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Reading: “We Believed it to be honorable before God”: Religion in Enslaved Communities, 1840-1860


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“We Believed it to be honorable before God”: Religion in Enslaved Communities, 1840-1860


Courtney Ebersohl

Virginia Tech, US
About Courtney
Courtney Ebersohl will graduate from Virginia Tech in the Spring of 2019 with a history and French double major and a minor in art history. She has been the treasurer of Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society for the past two years and studied French language and culture in Caen, France in the Spring of 2017. She intends to achieve an advanced degree in history or archaeology and will focus on the socio-cultural history of underrepresented groups and how their material cultures reveal values and routines.
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The dehumanization of African people in the United States began with their capture and the exploitation of their labor and bodies, which white people justified through the conviction of their inherent superiority. Collective religious passion was an effective defensive measure, but it did not prevent slaveholders from exploiting black labor.  This paper will use testimonies and narratives to argue that religion in the South from 1840 – 1865 offered a social sphere within enslaved communities that relieved experiences of dehumanization under slavery. Although enslaved people did not always intend to challenge the institution of slavery, their actions demonstrated resistance to the objectives of slavery, especially their own dehumanization.
How to Cite: Ebersohl, Courtney. 2018. ““we Believed It to Be Honorable Before God”: Religion in Enslaved Communities, 1840-1860”. The Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review 7. DOI:
Published on 23 Apr 2018.


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