Back to top

Address to Christians of All Denominations on the Inconsistency of Admitting Slave-Holders to Communion and Church Membership


Prize contest essay published in 1831 by the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.

Evan Lewis (1782-1834) was an active Quaker abolitionist and co-editor, with Marcus Gould, of the monthly journal The Friend, or Advocate of Truth (1828-1833). He edited the US edition of Thomas Clarkson’s The History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, by the British Parliament (1816) and published various religious tracts in Philadelphia.

Lewis argued that "the negro slavery of the United States and the West Indies has no parallel in the practice of the nations of antiquity" (12) and that there were no legitimate argumentative grounds for slavery in the Bible. Thus he called on religious congregations "to exclude from membership all who will not emancipate their slaves." (14) Advocacies of the nature that Lewis advanced were rising throughout the 1830s, leading to divisions in major church movements. Lewis recommends the position of the Quakers on this subject to the Presbyterians and Baptists, who were beginning to engage in this debate over slavery and the limits of church fellowship.

- Joe Lockard