Racial Justice Resources: History Bookshelf – Primary Sources

— Alabama Slave Code of 1852: Includes sections of law requiring certain white men to form vigilante “patrols” in addition to the existing law enforcement officers managed by a minority of the population.

— Douglass, Frederick. “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” (1852)

— John Wesley’s “Thoughts on Slavery”: Georgia Colonists’ Changing Laws on Slavery and Freedom is a Case Study in Anglo-Americans’ Decision-Making, a good exercise to discuss people’s decision-making, undermining some white descendants’ excuse that enslavers “did not know any better.” Note each of the arguments enslavers used to justify their practice of chattel slavery, cited and refuted by Wesley.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

— Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?” (c1851)

— Finkelman, Paul. Defending Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Old South: A Brief History with Documents. 2003. In their own words.

— Furman, Richard. “Defense of Slavery.” In Exploring the Christian Heritage: A Reader in History and Theology. Eds. C. Douglas Weaver, Rady Roldán-Figuero, and Brandon Frick. Baylor University Press, 2012: 154-7.

— Gaustad, Edwin, Mark Noll, and Heath Carter, eds. A Documentary History of Religion in America Fourth Edition. Eerdmans, 2018. Eminent (and one of my favorite) historian Gaustad also authored Faith of the Founders: Religion and the New Nation, 1776-1826. Foreword by Randall Balmer. Baylor University Press, 2011. Because so many people today argue about what happened in Vast Early America in the 17th-19th centuries regarding religion, it’s important to read work curated by the best scholars in the field. These are a start. Note the ones they cite.



— Mississippi Secession Document: Practically all of the individual state secession documents are available on-line or are coming on-line.

— Last Seen: “recovering the stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade. You can search thousands of Information Wanted Ads taken out by former slaves to look for your ancestors.”

— The Southern Baptist Convention, “Duties of Masters to Servants [i. e. Slaves]” (1851). Essays by three Southern Baptist clergymen, the winning essays of a contest to see who could write the best arguments for slavery.