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A tract arguing against post-emancipation segregation in the Methodist Church, by Rev. Thomas Pearne, a leading church figure (Dayton, Ohio: n.p., 1876). Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.


Rev. Thomas Pearne (1820-1901) was a leading figure of nineteenth-century American Methodism.  Born in western New York to English immigrant parents, he studied at Cazenovia Seminary and joined the ministry in 1837.  Until 1851 he served in central New York and northern Pennsylvania.  From 1851-1865 he organized the Methodist Church in Oregon, then returned east to Tennessee to participate in Reconstruction activities.  He was appointed US consul to Jamaica in 1870, where he spent four years.  Pearne concluded his career in the Cincinnati Conference, where he functioned as a Methodist minister.  For further, see Pearne, Sixty-One Years of Itinerant Christian Life in Church and State (Cincinnati: Curtis and Jennings, 1899). 

The present text emerges from the post-emancipation debates within US Christian churches concerning treatment of blacks.  In this tract, Pearne argues against segregation and denounces “color-caste” as a social and theological evil.  Early in his career, Pearne had encountered the divisiveness of the slavery question at the 1844 General Conference where the Methodist Church split between slave-holders and opponents of slavery.  He argues in this tract that the Methodist Church should not repeat its history of divisiveness by segregating itself along the color line.  Pearne calls for a fully integrated church, both in the laity and ministry.  Despite this anti-segregationist position, Pearne employs repeated racial stereotypes in his writing and was, at the time of the tract’s publication, the secretary of the American Colonization Society, dedicated to sending emancipated slaves to Africa.  Pearne’s theology called for formal integration and spiritual equality between black and white church members, but his cultural and political orientation favored separation and removal of black ex-slaves from the United States. 

— Joe Lockard