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This idea appealed to Bayley but Cuffee died before the project could get well underway. In this period the American Colonization Society was established in , to encourage free blacks to emigrate to a colony it established as Liberia in West Africa in the antebellum years. It was supported by both slaveholders and abolitionists, who thought for different reasons that free blacks might have more opportunity in their own society in Africa.

While most free African Americans wanted to make their lives in the United States with rights that recognized their citizenship, some did emigrate. Bayley and his wife Thamar were among them, going in after their children were grown. He served as a Methodist missionary and worked as a farmer. They lived near the main settlement of Monrovia. In he published a book about the colony, describing its products and society. In it he expressed an ambivalent attitude toward the African natives, describing them as "benighted" and in need of Christianity, but he was also hopeful about potential autonomy for African Americans in the colony.


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In the 19th century, African Americans petitioned various levels of government on a variety of issues. When necessary, they used the courts. Numerous individuals addressed the topics of personal freedom and economic discrimination in their appeals. To explain his thinking about using the legal avenues open to him, Solomon Bayley wrote: "I thought where the law made liberty the right of any man, he could not be wrong in trying to recover it. He was successful in gaining an out-of-court settlement that included his master's accepting an arrangement whereby he could buy his freedom over time.

Other African Americans were also sometimes successful in petitioning the courts to right wrongs if their masters violated the law. Louis, Missouri and in Louisiana, hundreds of slaves filed freedom suits , challenging the grounds of their enslavement and sometimes winning freedom. The legal justifications for the institution of slavery included exceptions. Slaves claimed the right to freedom based on Native American ancestry where Native American slavery had been prohibited , or on masters knowingly holding them in free states past the limits set by those states' laws.

For decades before the Civil War, state courts often observed a precedent of "once free, always free", until the Dred Scott ruling by the United States Supreme Court. Bayley's memoir, A Narrative of Some Remarkable Incidents in the Life of Solomon Bayley , is one of the earliest of the genre known as slave narratives. Published in London in , it is forty-eight pages in length. It was based in part on correspondence between Bayley and Hurnard.

Bayley expresses his religious faith throughout, in his escape, his efforts to buy freedom for himself and his family, and other trials. He was a Methodist who saw his life through a Christian perspective. His escape and recapture are covered in detail.

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Yolanda N. Pierce has explored Bayley's memoir and four other slave narratives from the standpoint of slave agency. Raboteau noted that she said the plot line of most of them "constitutes a picaresque journey of incredible incidents, Their rhetorical structure frequently oscillates between an interpretive perspective that is sometimes in the same paragraph both African and Western. Raboteau noted that Bayley was inspired to compassion by his Christian faith, drawing from it to grapple with challenges in slavery and as a free man.

For instance, he belonged to the same Methodist class meeting as his wife's master, who threatened to see Thamar and Bayley's infant daughter. Bayley wrote in his memoir that it was extremely difficult. In Bayley published his "A Brief Account of the Colony of Liberia", based on his emigration to the African colony and work there as a missionary. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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  • Solomon Bayley. By country or region. Opposition and resistance. Abolitionism U. Biography portal. Carole Marks, University of Delaware, , Quote Thus, slave owners could not benefit from breeding slaves as in a state like Virginia. Slave narratives. Slave Narrative Collection.

    About Christianity

    Robert Adams c. Texts from the Bible, which most slaves could not read, were explicated by verses from the spirituals. Slaves forbidden by masters to attend church or, in some cases, even to pray, risked floggings to attend secret gatherings to worship God. Do whatsomever your master tells you to do. Slaves faced severe punishment if caught attending secret prayer meetings. Slaves devised several techniques to avoid detection of their meetings.

    He would bend forward and speak into or over a vessel of water to drown the sound. Many slaveholders granted their slaves permission to attend church, and some openly encouraged religious meetings among the slaves. Baptisms, marriages, and funerals were allowed to slaves on some plantations with whites observing and occasionally participating. Annual revival meetings were social occasions for blacks as well as for whites. Masters were known to enjoy the singing, praying, and preaching of their slaves. The religious format varied from plantation to plantation for the slaves.

    The fields was forgotten, the light chores was hurried through, and everybody got ready for the church meeting. It was out of the doors, in the yard. But the white folks on the next plantation would lick their slaves for trying to do like we did.

    Hell Without Fires: Slavery, Christianity, and the Antebellum Spiritual Narrative

    No praying there, and no singing. Some masters did not allow their slaves to go to church and ridiculed the notion of religion for slaves because they refused to believe that Negroes had souls. Sometimes the newly regenerate came up from the baptismal waters shouting for joy at being made new in the Lord. She shouted and sung fer three days, going all over de plantation and de neighboring ones, inviting her friends to come to see her baptized and shouting and praying fer dem. She went around to all de people dat she had done wrong and begged dere forgiveness.

    She sent fer dem dat had wronged her, and told dem dat she was born again and a new woman, and dat she would forgive dem. She wanted everybody dat was not saved to go up wid her. All de niggers joined in singing. Usually illiterate, the slave preacher often had native wit and unusual eloquence.

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    Carefully watched and viewed with suspicion, the preacher had to straddle the conflict between the demands of conscience and the orders of the masters. That I done lots. By comparison with other slaves, some preachers were privileged characters. The preacher spoke of the need of atonement for sin. Were the slave preachers a force for accommodation to the status quo or a force for the exercise of slave autonomy? The weight of slave testimony suggests that the slaves knew and understood the restrictions under which the slave preacher labored, and that they accepted his authority not because it came from the master but because it came from God.

    They respected him because he was the messenger of the gospel, one who preached the word of God with power and authority, indeed with a power which sometimes humbled white folk and frequently uplifted slaves. What must be recognized is that they emerged as communal songs, heard, felt, sung and often danced with hand-clapping, foot-stamping, headshaking excitement.


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    • In W. He might well have added a fourth characteristic, the conversion experience.

      Solomon Bayley

      The experience of conversion was essential in the religious life of the slaves. At the center of the evangelical Protestant tradition, the tradition which slaves increasingly made their own, stood the experience of conversion. Some slaves rejected Christianity and preserved their traditional African beliefs or their belief in Islam.

      Other slaves accepted Christianity of a different type—Catholicism. Relatively few slaves, mainly concentrated in southern Louisiana and Maryland, were Roman Catholics. According to a generous estimate, the number of black Catholics, free and slave, at the time of emancipation was one hundred thousand [out of approximately four million]. The predominant religious tradition, then, among the slaves and their descendants in the United States was evangelical Protestantism. Slaves believed that God had acted, was acting, and would continue to act within human history and within their own particular history as a peculiar people, just as long ago he had acted on behalf of another chosen people, biblical Israel.