Closing Off the Light
The following quotation was found on page 106 of Fergus M. Bordewich's Bound for Canaan, which is a history of the "Underground Railroad." Bordewich is describing the means by which slaveholders used the legal system to insure that slaves would remain in perfect ignorance. This goal was all-important to the maintenance of the slave system, and it was pursued assiduously, especially after the Nat Turner rebellion of 1832. For example, all blacks (slave or free) were banned from attending religious services unless accompanied by whites.
Where schools for slaves existed, they were suppressed. The Virginia House of Delegates declared, in 1832, "We have, as far as possible, closed every avenue by which light can enter . . . [their] minds. If we could extinguish the capacity to see the light, our work would be completed; they would then be on a level with the beasts of the field, and we should be safe.I am astonished by the sheer bluntness of this remark. And notice how completely at odds it is with the intent of the Gospel . . . a Gospel that these men professed. Amazing!