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Department/School of the Primary Author

History and Government

Keywords

Granville, Massachusetts, Rutland, Vermont, African-Americans-Massachusetts, Federalism, Congregational minister, early abolition

DOI

10.15385/jch.2019.4.1.2

Abstract

An introduction to the life and work of Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833), a neglected figure in American History as the first biracial pastor to lead an all-white Congregation in North America. The topic of this paper addresses an understudied and essential aspect of early America, political discourse from minority voices in the colonies. I hope to demonstrate in this paper how a particular early American minority worked as a change-agent despite the presence and practice of racism and slavery. Born in West Hartford, Connecticut and raised in Granville, Massachusetts, Haynes used the Bible, his voice, his agile mind, and a relentless work ethic to create a life on the Vermont frontier. Haynes served in the Continental army then pursued the adventure of a rural preaching ministry for himself, his Caucasian wife Elizabeth, and ten biracial children. For thirty years, Haynes commanded the pulpit of a Congregationalist church and used reason, logic, and wit to speak out publicly against the institution of slavery. Although Haynes maintained the respect and attention of many white parishioners, he never succeeded in forming ecclesiastical or nonreligious coalitions to combat slavery on a national level. Instead, Haynes chose to publish political sermons in support of the Federalist Party rather than exclusively publish his rational arguments against slavery. John Adams, who took office March 4 1797 as America’s second president, sacrificed family, wealth, and prestige to produce the early American republic. Haynes appreciated Adams as the Federalist successor to George Washington and as a fellow Massachusetts man who maintained a principled stance against slavery. As the Federalists lost control to Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic Republicans, Haynes limited his antislavery rhetoric and instead chose to publish elegant political commentary focused on national issues from 1798-1801. Haynes hoped to stem the tide and return the Federalist Party to power, while supporting the Federalist focus of national government, strong ties with Britain, and open interpretation to the Constitution. Given the rise of partisan politics in the early republic, Lemuel Haynes grew popular in several New England states not for his moral antislavery stance or skin tone but for his rational preaching and firm identity as a Federalist.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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