Race in America

Black and white abolitionists, buoyed by the fervent evangelism of the Second Great Awakening, argued that collective atonement (literally, at-one-ment) was the surest path to both emancipation and the kingdom of God on earth. But atonement did not come calmly.

Historic photographs
The irrepressible conflict over slavery led to the ghastly Armageddon of the Civil War. The most destructive warfare ever in the Western Hemisphere killed twice as many Americans as died in World War II. Lincoln’s partial freeing of slaves, followed by his Gettysburg Address, transformed the carnage into an unequivocal war against slavery. Perfecting the abolitionists’ messianic language, Lincoln justified the slaughter as God’s retribution against both sides for perpetuating the sin of slavery, convinced that divine retribution would bear fruit in healing and reconciliation.

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1998

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