This version of "A Scriptural, Ecclesiastical, and Historical View of Slavery" is the original pamphlet written in 1864 by John Henry Hopkins, bishop of the Diocese of Vermont, and addressed to the Reverend Alonzo Potter of Pennsylvania, who opposed slavery and Hopkins' views.
The pamphlet claimed that the Bible did not forbid slavery, and although some might find it reprehensible, it cannot be deemed a sin. Hopkins concedes that Slavery could be deemed a “physical evil” but the strongly opposes the idea that it is a “moral evil”, saying “I condemn the institution of Slavery … But as a Christian I am compelled to submit my weak and erring intellect to the almighty”. Hopkins also uses his claim on a political basis, arguing that the Civil War was started by “ultra abolitionists”, who preached against the word of God and turned the Union against the South.
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About the Author
John Henry Hopkins was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1792 and came to the United States in 1801, where he later became an iron manufacturer in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania with Quartermaster Gen. James O'Hara. The War of 1812 having proved disastrous to his business, he studied law, and began practice in Pittsburgh.
In 1823, Hopkins entered the ministry of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in response to the call of Trinity Church in Pittsburgh, PA in which he was a vestryman. He also served as organist/choirmaster of Trinity Church from 1824-1830. In 1831, he accepted the charge of Trinity Church, Boston, and the next year was elected the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, taking also the rectorship of a church in Burlington. He took great interest in education and made heavy economic sacrifices for its promotion. After 1856, he devoted his whole time to the care of the diocese.
John Henry Hopkins was the eighth presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and served from January 13, 1865 to January 9, 1868. Largely through the efforts of Presiding Bishop Hopkins and his friend Bishop Stephen Elliott of Georgia, who was the presiding bishop of the breakaway Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America, the Northern and Southern branches of the Church were reunited after the end of the Civil War. Both men considered this crucial to the survival of the Church and the nation.
In 1864, a pamphlet titled A Scriptural, Ecclesiastical, and Historical View of Slavery written by John Henry Hopkins attempted to justify slavery based on the New Testament and gave a clear insight into the Episcopal Church's involvement in slavery.