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Gallery: Reconstruction-Era Houses of Worship

Many Americans' beliefs about slavery, abolition, and Reconstruction were rooted in religion.

For abolitionist Northerners, victory was God's mandate to change the South. Missionaries founded schools for former slaves and attempted to convert Southern Christians to their anti-slavery views.

For former slaves, the church defended new hopes for freedom. They viewed Emancipation as God's deliverance from bondage. Black churches became not only centers of political action, but also of economic development and education.

For many Southern whites, Confederate defeat caused a religious crisis. In their eyes, slavery had been a thoroughly Christian, mutually beneficial system for both slaves and masters, because blacks as a race needed the paternal care of whites. According to this view, slavery itself was not wrong; rather, masters simply had not looked after the Christian needs of their slaves well enough.

Browse a gallery of historic Reconstruction-era houses of worship.

page created on 12.19.03
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Reconstruction: The Second Civil War
About the Film | Forty Acres and a Mule | Plantations in Ruins | Black Legislators
Northerners in the South | Access to Learning | Slave to Sharecropper | The Negro Question
In God We Trust | White Men Unite | State by State | Teacher's Guide

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Reconstruction: The Second Civil War American Experience

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