Antebellum Missouri’s location at the intersection of North, South, and West makes it a location that allows one to examine regionalism in the United States in one location since Missouri contained characteristics of each region. Missouri also provides a view of how religion functioned for people in the antebellum United States. The institution of slavery transformed evangelical Christianity in the South from an influence with potential to erode slavery into an institution that was a bulwark for slavery. For African Americans, religion constituted part of their cultural resistance against the dehumanization of slavery. Through conjure, their traditional religion, they sought control over their own lives and practical tools to aid them with everyday issues. Christianity also provided control over their destiny and a belief system, that in their hands, affirmed the sinfulness of slavery and confirmed that it was their right and their destiny to be free.
Kevin D. Butler is associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Chapter 1 Northern and Antislavery Evangelicals in Missouri
Chapter 2 The Conjure Tradition in Missouri Slave Communities
Chapter 3 Saving Souls and Controlling Slaves: The White Church
Chapter 4“Nobody Know But Jesus”: The Development of Christianity in the African American Community
Chapter 5 African American Independent Churches and the Urban Environment
Kevin D. Butler’s Slavery, Religion, and Race in Antebellum Missouri: Freedom from Slavery and Freedom from Sin is a concise and clear treatment of slavery in antebellum Missouri. It expertly dissects the religious ideology and institutions of the region, while offering a compelling portrait of slavery and politics as well. The work is ideal for the classroom as it is pithy and cogent. Kevin Butler’s history would work well in undergraduate and graduate courses on Missouri history, antebellum slavery, religion in America, and even general courses on the history of enslavement.