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Religion and Slavery in Colonial New England

August 26 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Hear about enslavement in early New England and the ways that religious figured justified their participation in the slave trade

In this, our final history talk of the 2023 season, Dr. Kenneth Minkema will share his talk Religion and Slavery in Colonial New England.

While the colonial-period enslavement of persons of color and the business of the “slave trade,” or the kidnapping of free Africans, are usually assumed to have been foreign to New England, we are discovering the significant extent to which people of this region participated in–and profited from–enslavement and the slave trade. A vital justification for slavery was provided by religious belief and by the Bible as it was interpreted by white colonizers at that time.

In this presentation, Dr. Kenneth Minkema will examine some of the theological, religious, and biblical rationales for the institution of slavery, as expressed in the Puritan and Dissenting tradition inherited by many of the English colonizers of New England. Prominent ministers of western Massachusetts, such as Jonathan Edwards of Northampton, along with others, enslaved people of color. As the eighteenth century wore on, however, critiques of the slave trade and, eventually, of slavery itself emerged, helping to set the stage for a nation-wide debate and eventual armed conflict.

Kenneth P. Minkema is the Editor of The Works of Jonathan Edwards and Director of The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, with an appointment as Research Scholar at Yale Divinity School.

This lecture will be held on Zoom. Attendees will receive an email 1-2 days in advance of the talk with the link to access the Zoom presentation.

Presenter Kenneth Minkema


August 26
11:00 am - 12:00 pm


The Bidwell House Museum

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