Monday, October 29, 2018

Reading - 18C American Woman with a Book

1777-80 Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827) Mrs Samuel Mifflin reading with granddaughter Rebecca Mifflin Francis

Historian Jeffrey H. Richards of Old Dominion University tells the story of Samuel Davies, the first Presbyterian minister in Piedmont Virginia, who worked to educate slaves throughout the South in the 1750s. He was also the most committed & the most successful evangelical preacher who taught slaves to read, convinced that literacy was a precondition of Christian devotion. Davies, for all his belief in the inherent intelligence of slaves & the need to treat them humanely, was no abolitionist. He made the case to white owners that literate slaves would be “better Servants.”  Some owners claimed there were "practical" advantages in having literate slaves, since they could form a kind of middle management between the free whites & the illiterate field hands.