Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Some conclusions may be drawn as to the success—or failure--of the Church's relationship with the slaves in nineteenth-century Virginia by constructing a narrative of the general attitudes held by the Episcopal Church (the bishops and other clergy and the laity) and the actions resulting from them. The years from 1830 to 1860 are the most fruitful period of the century in revealing through sermons, letters, newspapers, and books the Church's ideas concerning the institution of religious instruction for the slaves and their place in the life of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia. Because many of the attitudes prevalent among the members of the diocese towards the slaves were rooted in the past, and much of the social influence of the nineteenth-century Episcopal Church resulted from its historic roots in the established church of the Colonial period, it is necessary to look at the seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Anglican Church as it related to the problem of Christianizing the slaves. During the period from the Revolution to approximately 1830 the Episcopal Church in Virginia was involved in a severe struggle for its own survival, and consequently took little notice of the religious life of the Negroes. There were no positive developments in the denomination's position on pastoral care and church involvement for the slaves. The half-century of neglect did, however, have significance through fostering indifference among the laity to the spiritual needs of their slaves.