John Hughes and a Catholic Response to Slavery in Antebellum America - Essay Example

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The paper 'John Hughes and a Catholic Response to Slavery in Antebellum America' presents Catechism by Christian tradition which is a way of teaching and memorizing the doctrines of Christianity. The format of catechisms is typical: a set of questions followed by their answers…
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John Hughes and a Catholic Response to Slavery in Antebellum America
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It has highly simplified language, made so in order to facilitate understanding to the slaves. Simple and comprehensive words are used; and the concept and ideas encompass all personal, social and historical contexts. Everything is, however, conveyed in a simple manner because the purpose was to teach the doctrines of Christianity to the slaves. Interestingly, all such principles were chosen from the Bible with which they could be controlled by their masters. It is obvious from the text that this catechism belongs to the nineteenth century when slavery was not yet abolished.
The method of instruction is direct and precise; it, however, has double meanings to be conveyed the listeners. Thus this catechism for slaves was written by keeping in mind the general psychology of the slaves. The methodology thus adopted was to control them by religion. Fear of God was stronger for them than fear of master- that is why one can hear the undertones in it. It is systematically written to convey the underlying meanings of the White master. The series of questions is designed to tune the subconscious minds of the slaves and to control them by the voice of Church. ‘Who gave you a master and a mistress? God gave them to me.’(Line3-4)
The slaves are urged to keep themselves busy, as ordained by God. The White master commands them to remain busy by referring to the work that God himself does; the work he assigned to Adam and Eve, and the angels who please Him all the time. The antagonist in the scene is the Devil, who makes their heart wicked and urges them to be lazy. They are reprimanded for their sins and laziness in the last lines of this catechism.
It represents the mentality of the Whites that how they controlled their slaves socially, by binding them into their crafted version of religion. The language was thus chosen that would not be susceptible to double meanings. However, it is pretty obvious that the slaves could easily understand the meaningfulness of the text of catechism. One can have an insight into the mindset of the Whites back in the nineteenth century. Slavery of the Blacks had given them great advantages; they were successfully able to expand their plantations in the South of America with the exemplary hard work and sacrifice of the Blacks.
Though it is not possible to deduce the race to which it is addressed; but it is obvious that it is meant for both genders: Q. Did Adam and Eve have to work? A. Yes, they had to keep the garden. (lines 19-20) The tone of the text also implies that it is meant for an inferior social class- probably slaves, who are made to understand the religious importance of their slavery. Read More
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