Charles Hodge, Francis Grimké, and the Doctrine of Human Unity in the Critique of Race Prejudice


No issue embroiled nineteenth century Americans in fierce debate like slavery. Though many in the founding generation believed slavery to be on its way out at the close of the eighteenth century, the “peculiar institution” experienced rapid and sustained growth in the early decades of the nineteenth.[2] Debate taxed the most gifted minds of the day as they attempted to sort out the social, practical, moral, and religious implications of a system rife with abuses and contradictions in a nation ostensibly committed to liberty and equality.

The roles and views of famous Reformed theological figures in this context come under intense scrutiny today, with students of church history often demanding to know which “side” theologians were on. It is often assumed that two radically different theologies and sets of policy solutions did battle for the soul of post-Civil War America, with Black Americans on the one side and self-interested white supremacists on the other. Yet history, unsurprisingly, presents more nuanced realities.

One instance of such nuance can be found in a comparison of the renowned Charles Hodge (1797-1878) and one of his African American students at Princeton, Francis J. Grimké (1850–1937). Hodge’s response to slavery was grounded in a biblicist hermeneutic and strong doctrine of human unity–principles which Grimké enthusiastically inherited. For Hodge, these principles led to moderate critiques of both American slavery and elements of abolitionism. For Grimké, however, they necessitated going much further–both with regard to slavery, and its ongoing legacy in postbellum America.

How was it possible for teacher and student, working from two strongly held and shared convictions, to come down differently on racial matters of such great import? To understand this, we must first understand the men in question.

Charles Hodge and the Doctrine of Human Unity

Charles Hodge remains one of the most influential American theologians of the nineteenth century.[3] During his long career at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1822 to 1878, Hodge mentored over three thousand students and wrote nearly two hundred articles as editor of the Princeton Review.[4] From his mentor Archibald Alexander (1772–1851), Hodge learned “the Princeton paradigm,” which placed a heavy emphasis on Common Sense philosophy, biblical revelation, and a commitment to piety.[5]

Biblicist Theological Method

Hodge’s theological method can be fairly described as “biblicist.” This has become something of a dirty word in Reformed theology of late, but not so in Hodge’s context.[6] Hodge believed that the Bible contains only truth, and that all truths either come from Scripture or are authenticated by it.[7] He described the Bible as the very Word of God, fully inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by human authors.[8] Divine inspiration granted the Bible infallible authority since it contained “all extant revelations of God.”[9] Hodge allowed for no higher authority than the Word.

The authority of the Bible hemmed Hodge in from indulging personal preferences. Hodge refused to bind someone’s conscience on anything “not taught directly or by necessary implication in the Holy Scriptures.”[10] Like his esteemed teacher before him, Hodge considered theology a science, and the Bible represented the field of inquiry for the theologian. To do right theology, a theologian must study the Bible as other scientists study their field.[11] By this standard Hodge set “a safeguard and a limit” on the task of the theologian, who “can no more construct a system of theology to suit his fancy, than the astronomer can adjust the mechanism of the heavens according to his own good pleasure.”[12] All reasoning, philosophy, and systems must derive from the Bible, which steers theologians away from more speculative doctrinal or ethical formations. This restriction had major implications for Hodge’s understanding of human unity.

Hodge refused to bind someone’s conscience on anything “not taught directly or by necessary implication in the Holy Scriptures”

The Doctrine of Human Unity

Theological anthropology occupied a central place in the nineteenth century debates surrounding human origins, which predated Charles Darwin’s (1809–1882) theory of natural selection. Scientists such as Samuel George Morton (1799-1851) and Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), interested in the differences between people groups developed the theory of polygenesis, reviving eighteenth century theories which explained the differences between racial, ethnic, and regional groups by positing them as different species of humanity. Polygenesis rejected the biblical account that all humanity descended from Adam and Eve, or that differing environments created differences among humanity.[13]

Hodge condemned polygenesis, in part for the way it contradicted the biblical doctrine of human unity, but also because it severed individuals from the universal offer of salvation in Christ. Were all humanity not descended from one fallen set of parents, the universal offer of salvation would be rendered ineffective.[14] In such a case, that which Hodge considered “in the very nature of the gospel,” the full unity of all believers, would be lost.[15] In these debates, Hodge refined his theological anthropology, as articulated in his Systematic Theology, through his polemical writings against polygenesists, working this into his teaching.[16] These refinements shaped how Hodge responded to the most pressing social issue of his day: American slavery.

Hodge’s Moderate Critique of Slavery

Hodge’s biblicism and doctrine of human unity led him to a moderate critique of slavery. He argued against defining slavery as a sin per se, finding no explicit prohibition against such a practice in Scripture, the “authoritative rule of truth and duty.”[17] His commitment to biblicism, then, prevented him from making sweeping condemnations.[18] However, that same commitment prevented him from defending slavery in all forms, and he demonstrated clearly his opposition to slavery as it then existed in the United States.[19]

Hodge argued for gradual emancipation, seeking to maintain a middle course between the two poles of immediate abolitionism and perpetual enslavement.[20] In his first essay on slavery, he actually focused his condemnation on the extreme tactics and rhetoric he saw in the abolitionist movement, such as blanket condemnations of any kind of slavery and other counterproductive methods.[21] As the sectional crisis grew, however, Hodge began to shift his attack to the pro-slavery argument, especially as articulated by fellow Christians. At the dawn of the Civil War he conceded that “a church which regards itself as commissioned to conserve and perpetuate slavery, and a church instinct with the principles and spirit of modern abolitionism, must both alike be offensive to God, and injurious to men.”[22] He also labeled Southern slavery “a crime against God and man.”[23] Hodge remained consistent in his criticisms in both directions, decrying as “unscriptural” both the idea of a wholesale rejection of slaveholding and “the slave laws of the South,” which were designed to perpetuate slavery.[24]

Hodge demonstrated clearly his opposition to slavery as it then existed in the United States.

Hodge allowed for the eventual equal citizenship of African Americans, despite what would now be regarded as a racially prejudiced view of their inferiority. In considering the possibility of suffrage, Hodge compared slaves to minors: “If therefore the blacks as a class are incompetent to exercise, with benefit to themselves or others, the privileges of personal or political liberty, then, as long as that incompetency continues, they have no right to those privileges.”[25] Hodge believed that the experience of slavery had left African Americans unprepared to engage in civic life but assumed they had the ability to acclimatize to the advantage of the privileges of liberty (with help).[26] Should gradual emancipation occur, slaves “should become citizens” as a “next step.”[27] Scholars debate the extent to which Hodge approved of suffrage for former slaves. For his part, reviewing his own words from 1836 thirty-five years later, Hodge interpreted himself to have predicted the full enfranchisement of slaves.[28]

While some products of Hodge’s Princeton became anti-slavery activists, others argued against integration. Hodge thus leaves a complicated legacy. How, then, should it be assessed? David Torbett contends that to do so, we must look at one of Hodge’s African-American students: Francis Grimké.[29]

Francis Grimké and the Princeton Influence

Francis James Grimké was born in 1850, the son of prominent South Carolina planter Henry Grimké (1801–1852) and his slave, Nancy Weston Grimké (1812–1895). Nancy inculcated Francis and his brothers in the Christian faith and sent them to a Presbyterian church for religious instruction.[30] After the Civil War, he attended Lincoln University, where he received regular instruction in the Bible and the Westminster Catechism.[31] As part of his religious instruction at Lincoln, Grimké also read Charles Hodge’s The Way of Life, which introduced him to “the uncompromising orthodoxy for which Princeton Seminary was famous.”[32] Grimké graduated as valedictorian in 1870 and in 1875, the Presbytery of Philadelphia received him as a candidate for ministry. He then enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary.[33]

Grimké arrived at Princeton with fortuitous timing. Hodge had published his Systematic Theology four years prior, so Grimké had the opportunity to study the book with the author in the final class to receive Hodge’s full sequence of theological instruction.[34] According to Grimké’s biographer, “in this fashion a large part of Charles Hodge’s thought became the permanent furniture of Grimké’s mind.”[35]

Grimké and Biblicism

Nothing from Grimké’s Princeton education proved more foundational than his commitment to the Bible as the inspired and revealed word of God. In his fiftieth anniversary sermon, Grimké declared that the challenges of modernism to Christianity “have not affected in the least my perfect faith in the Bible.”[36] He dismissed the “Higher Critics and the Modernists” for having nothing “to show that is comparable with the mighty achievements of the old gospel and the old faith in the Bible as the word of God.”[37] Likewise, he implored young ministers to commit themselves to learning and teaching the Bible “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, in season and out of season.”[38]

Grimké often described the Bible in terms reminiscent of Hodge’s writings. Writing in 1931, fifty-four years after his graduation, Grimké praised a recent book defending the Bible against critics, calling the Bible “the inspired Word of God and the infallible rule of faith and practice.”[39] In matters of doctrine, private devotion, and public ministry, Francis Grimké held to a biblicism in continuity with his Princeton education.

Grimké, like Hodge, derived his doctrine of human unity from his Princetonian biblicist theological method

Grimké and the Doctrine of Human Unity

Like his professor, Grimké developed his anthropological assumptions from Scripture, and stood in continuity with him on the doctrine of human unity. Grimké, like Hodge, derived the doctrine from texts such as Genesis 1,[40] Acts 17:26,[41] and Colossians 3:11.[42] Grimké often used “Hodgeian” language to describe humans as “rational, immortal, responsible beings created in the image of God.”[43] The doctrine of the image of God was foundational in human unity and had practical applications for Grimké. Because God created all humans in his image, all humans have inherent dignity and therefore no individual, much less an entire race, may be treated as inferior.[44] Grimké described humans as united not only in their original created status but also in their sinful state. For Grimké, all humans stood in a fallen position that required the grace and intervention of God. Grimké declared,

“The spiritual needs of men, of all men, are fundamentally the same. It does not make any difference whether they are white, black, brown, red, or yellow…they are all human beings; they are all sinners on their way to eternity and judgment.”[45]

“All men of all races stand upon precisely the same footing,” and therefore, “the same gospel is to be preached to all.”[46]

Grimké, like Hodge, derived his doctrine of human unity from his Princetonian biblicist theological method, and it had significant implications for the practice of ministry. While the ministry of the gospel took preeminence, his convictions led him to offer forceful critiques of the status quo for African Americans in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, going beyond the moderate critiques of his teacher.

Grimké’s Critique of Racial Prejudice

Despite the continuity observed thus far, Grimké differed from his professor in his application of doctrine. As a Black pastor leading a Black congregation during the “nadir” of the Black experience in America, Grimké’s context prompted strident critiques of racial prejudice in America, and especially in the American church.[47]

Grimké took up the pastorate of Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. in 1878–the same year Hodge died, and one year after Rutherford B. Hayes assumed the presidency and federal troops withdrew from former Confederate states. After the overthrow of Reconstruction (1865–1877), African Americans witnessed their rights dissipate as segregation and racial violence increased.[48] Grimké’s pastorate coincided with the rise of Jim Crow segregation, when racial violence and lynchings of African Americans became more common.

One question African Americans faced during this time was how they ought to respond to racial prejudice. For Grimké, the only proper response involved a reliance upon the Bible and God’s power to bring about unity. He remained aware of the growing threat of segregation and the “danger, in view of the terrible ordeal through which we are now passing, and have been passing for some time, of losing heart.”[49] He determined the best way to serve his congregation involved soberly acknowledging these challenges and pointing toward the ultimate ground of hope: what Grimké called “the religion of Jesus Christ” and the power of a sovereign God to work through prayer.[50]

In the pulpit, Grimké often drew attention to recent instances of prejudice, before imploring his congregation “to stay ourselves on God…to make Him our refuge and strength.”[51] If God is on the side of those who love him, then “the important thing for us, therefore, is to get on God’s side, and to stay on His side.”[52] If the people devoted themselves to God and to passing on the faith to their children, then “this same God will be our God.”[53]

Due to his doctrinal commitments, Grimké believed few things could be more antithetical to Christianity than racial prejudice. In “Christianity and Race Prejudice,” his most systematic investigation into the subject, he laid out the principles impressed on Christians by “the religion of Jesus Christ.”[54] The Fatherhood of God sets “the whole plane of humanity” as equal children of God, created in His image.[55] By implication, “the human race is one” because “of one blood God hath made all the families of the earth.”[56] Christians have a special unity that goes beyond the general brotherhood of man because, according to Colossians 3:11, they are one in Christ. These principles, as well as ones dictating Christian behavior toward others, contradict all forms of race prejudice for Grimké.[57] Any impulse that would treat a person differently based on race cannot be justified by Christian faith or Scripture.

Grimké relied on the doctrine of human unity to call out the hypocrisy within American churches

Grimké relied on the doctrine of human unity to call out the hypocrisy within American churches concerning race. Because of the antithesis between Christianity and racial prejudice, Grimké found hypocrisy within American Protestantism intolerable. He saw racial prejudice “in almost absolute control” of churches and Christians who practiced segregation. He deemed this control a humiliating failure of duty on the part of the American church, a failure that could only be remedied by either repudiating Christianity or earnestly seeking to teach and obey Christ’s teachings of the essential unity of mankind and the need to love one’s neighbor.[58] Churches, according to Grimké, could not serve God and segregation.

Grimké offered similar strident opposition to such thinking within his own church circles. When two different Southern Presbyterian denominations, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. in 1888 and then the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1905, moved to reunite with Grimke’s Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., they both offered reunion on the condition of segregating African Americans into separate presbyteries. Though the 1888 union proposal failed, the one in 1905 succeeded, despite Grimké’s opposition.[59] In both cases, Grimké rooted his critique in the essential unity of the races. Drawing on Colossians 3:11, Grimké argued Jesus “did not die for one race, but for all races. What difference does it make to Him, whether a man is white or black?”[60] Any plan that would separate the governing bodies of the denomination based on race “is contrary to the whole spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ” and “there isn’t a line or syllable in the inspired record to justify any such course as that” proposed by the “unchristian, Negro-hating sentiment in the South.”[61]

Grimké had little patience for the religious hypocrisy involved in racial prejudice. In no uncertain terms, he decried white church members who took part in a “bloody riot” in Wilmington, North Carolina, that resulted in the murder of dozens of African Americans, and destroyed the property of hundreds more: “I know that the religion…they possess is not Christianity. It is a miserable lie to say that it is.”[62] He counted a Wilmington minister, who used a portion of his sermon the following Sunday to praise the white men who led the attack, among the “hypocrites in the pulpit” who “have brought the religion of Christ into contempt.”[63] To associate such prejudice with the name of Christianity revolted Grimké. In both instances he condemned the root of the prejudice as the rejection of the essential human unity of all people. Grimké could only conclude that the Christianity they practiced “[was] not the Christianity of Christ and of the apostles; [was] not the Christianity of the Bible.”[64] Grimké attacked racial prejudice and hypocrisy out of a Christian faith shaped first by the Bible. Grimké’s commitment to Scripture, and the doctrine of human unity derived therein, informed and supported his critiques of race prejudice.

Grimké decried white church members who took part in a “bloody riot” in Wilmington, North Carolina

Alongside his condemnation of current racial prejudices, Grimké believed in the power of the gospel to change America for the better. In contrast to the false Christianity that tolerated or supported segregation and race prejudice, he saw the power of “true, real, genuine Christianity” when “white men and women under its regenerating influence lose entirely the caste feeling, to whom the brother in black was as truly a brother as the brother in white.”[65] Grimké wanted Christians to know that “Christianity is not clay in the hands of the world-spirit to be moulded by it; but is itself to be the moulder of public sentiment and everything else.”[66] A Christianity founded on the Word of God had the power “to conquer all prejudices, to break down all walls of separation, and to weld together men of all races in one great brotherhood.”[67] Such a Christianity brought Grimké hope amid his struggles against race prejudice.


We have seen a distinct continuity between Hodge and Grimké in their methodology and theological convictions. Yet the two men ended up applying these very differently to the circumstances of their respective eras. Hodge lived during the era of established slaveholding and the Civil War; Grimké came of age in the postbellum era and the nadir of African American Civil Rights. Grimké’s Princetonian biblicism, far from making him subservient to the status quo in terms of race and racial prejudice, brought him to a thorough critique of what he saw as outright hypocrisy. Hodge, however, was led by the same doctrine to offer merely a moderate critique of slavery, and to also criticize aspects of abolitionism.

It may seem incongruous to compare Hodge and Grimké, given that they operated in distinct parts of the nineteenth century. Yet they have this much in common: both faced an undesirable racial status quo, to which they felt theologically compelled to respond. Yet they ended up doing so in very different ways.

How, then, do we account for the difference? We can but briefly sketch some suggestions as we conclude. We who recoil at anything that violates the true ontological equality of all people may wish Hodge to have gone further than he did; history forces us to wrestle with such disappointments and complexities. Grimké, by virtue of his different cultural and historical position in the postbellum Black church, was perhaps better positioned to turn the gem of Scripture and see the refractions of doctrine in different directions, or to greater extents, than Hodge was able to see. Whilst Reformed readers today may share Hodge’s conventions regarding Scripture and human unity, we may see in him a failure of imagination regarding the implications of his doctrine. Yet whatever deficiencies we may find with Hodge, Grimké shows that the fault cannot be attributed to the theology per se: the same doctrines led one to a moderate response to the racial status quo, and the other to a more severe one. Grimké’s example shows us at the very least that context matters, and different sociocultural contexts will lead to different points of emphasis or application. But he also demonstrates how Christians from a theologically orthodox position are able to speak into the most pressing issues of the day, not in spite of their theological convictions but because of them.

Adam E. Peterson is a Ph.D. student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary studying African American Church History from the Civil War to the civil rights movement. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife and children.

  1. This essay was originally delivered as a paper at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Denver, Colorado.

  2. For a brief summary of American views of slavery in the post-revolutionary era, see Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 508-542.

  3. Biographical details on Charles Hodge are drawn from Leonard J. Trinterud, “Charles Hodge (1797-1878): Theology — Didactic and Polemical,” in Sons of the Prophets: Leaders in Protestantism from Princeton Seminary, ed. Hugh Thomson Kerr (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963); W. Andrew Hoffecker, Piety and the Princeton Theologians: Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, and Benjamin Warfield (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 1981); W. Andrew Hoffecker, Charles Hodge: The Pride of Princeton (Phillipsburg, N.J: P & R Publishing, 2011); Paul C. Gutjahr, Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

  4. John W. Stewart, “Introducing Charles Hodge to Postmoderns,” in Charles Hodge Revisited: A Critical Appraisal of His Life and Work, ed. James H. Moorhead and John W. Stewart (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2002), 1.

  5. Stewart, “Introducing Charles Hodge,” 11-12. For more on “the Princeton paradigm,” see John W. Stewart, Mediating the Center: Charles Hodge on American Science, Language, Literature, and Politics (Princeton: Princeton Theological Seminary, 1995), 21–28.

  6. Mark A. Noll, ed., The Princeton Theology 1812-1921: Scripture, Science, and Theological Method from Archibald Alexander to Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 117, see also 25-27.

  7. Hodge, Systematic Theology. 3 vols. (1872. Reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1982), 1:38.

  8. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:153, 156.

  9. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:182.

  10. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:183. Hodge, ever the faithful Presbyterian, here alluded to the Westminster Confession of Faith 1.6.

  11. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (1872. Reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1982), 1:10.

  12. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:15, 18-19.

  13. Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 8, 15, 44–51, 58–60. Hodge addressed his main critiques of polygenesis against the writings of Morton and Agassiz. Gutjahr, Charles Hodge, 326-330.

  14. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:557.

  15. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:810-811.

  16. Henry Justin Ferry, “Francis James Grimké: Portrait of a Black Puritan” (PhD diss., Yale University, 1970), 95–101.

  17. Hodge, “Slavery,” 275.

  18. David Torbett, Theology and Slavery: Charles Hodge and Horace Bushnell (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2006), 77.

  19. Charles Hodge, “Slavery,” The Biblical Repertory and Theological Review 8, no. 2 (April 1836): 268–305.

  20. Torbett, Theology and Slavery, 91–92.

  21. Hodge, “Slavery,” 270, 301.

  22. Charles Hodge, “The Church and the Country,” The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review 33, no. 2 (April 1861): 342–376.

  23. Charles Hodge, “President Lincoln,” The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review 37, no. 3 (July 1865): 438.

  24. For his part, Grimké displayed little of the reservations toward abolitionism that Hodge did. He often gave addresses celebrating the life and work of prominent abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, John Greenleaf Whittier, and John Brown. See Carter Woodson, ed., The Works of Francis J. Grimké, Volume I: Addresses Mainly Personal and Racial, (Washington D.C.: The Associated Publishers, 1942), 34-71, 81-101, 101-122, 122-141.

  25. Hodge, “Emancipation,” 591.

  26. Hodge, “Emancipation,” 603.

  27. Hodge, “Slavery,” 305.

  28. Charles Hodge, “Retrospect of the History of the Princeton Review,” The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review Index (1871): 17.

  29. Torbett, Theology and Slavery, 178-181.

  30. Ferry, “Francis James Grimké,” 21-24.

  31. Ferry, “Francis James Grimké,” 45-52.

  32. Ferry, “Francis James Grimké,” 58.

  33. Ferry, “Francis James Grimké,” 75–76.

  34. Ferry, “Francis James Grimké,” 100.

  35. Ferry, “Francis James Grimké,” 95-96. Grimké also left an impression on Hodge as well, who reportedly “reckoned him equal to the ablest of his students.” Carter G. Woodson, “Introduction” in Woodson, ed., Works, Vol. I, x. In an analysis of Grimké’s early sermons, Ferry found references to several prominent American theologians, including Charles Hodge. Ferry, “Francis James Grimké,” 139n3.

  36. Francis J. Grimké, “MS Sermon, July 1, 1928 (John 12:32),” quoted in Ferry, “Francis James Grimké,” 86.

  37. Francis Grimké in Carter G. Woodson, ed., The Works of Francis J. Grimke, Volume III: Stray Thoughts and Meditations (Washington, D.C.: The Associated Publishers, 1942), 501.

  38. Francis J. Grimké, “Christ’s Program for the Saving of the World,” 1937, Box 40-6, Folder 309, Francis J. Grimké Papers.
  39. Grimké, Works, Vol. III, 631. Grimké’s language mirrored Hodge’s Systematic Theology: “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore infallible, and of divine authority in all things pertaining to faith and practice.” Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:152.

  40. Grimké, Works, Vol. I, 319-323; Works, Vol. II, 335.
  41. Grimké, Works, Vol. I, 319, 448..

  42. Grimké, Works, Vol. I, 450, 524.

  43. Grimké, Works, Vol. III, 52, 68, 85, 320, 366. Hodge described humans as “rational and immortal,” “rational, free, and responsible” and grounded those attributes in “the image of God” in humanity. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:49, 56, 97-99.

  44. Grimké, Works, Vol. I, 319-320, 372, 448, 565, 596; Works, Vol. III, 169, 380. As demonstrated below, the image of God served as a crucial aspect of the doctrine of human unity in Grimké’s critique of race prejudice.

  45. Grimké, “Religious Aspect,” 155.
  46. Grimké placed the need for the gospel at the center of his anthropology. Grimké, Works, Vol. I, 321.

  47. Rayford W. Logan, The Betrayal Of The Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes To Woodrow Wilson (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997). The first edition of the book ran under the title The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, 1877–1901, published in 1954 under Dial Books. Logan determined 1901 to be the absolute nadir of American race relations, though other scholars have placed the date as late as 1923.

  48. Allen C. Guelzo, Reconstruction: A Concise History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 129–130. Guelzo’s volume provides an excellent overview of the era he deems “the ugly duckling of American history.”

  49. Francis J. Grimké, “The Negro: His Rights and Wrongs, The Forces For and Against Him,” in Woodson, Works, Vol. I, 237.

  50. See Grimké, “The Negro: His Rights and Wrongs,” 251, 267, 274-278.

  51. Grimké, “God and the Race Problem,” in Works, Vol. I, 374.

  52. Grimké, “God and the Race Problem,” 376.
  53. Grimké, “God and the Race Problem,” 377.

  54. Francis J. Grimké, “Christianity and Race Prejudice, May 29, 1910, and June 5, 1910,” in Woodson, Works, Vol. I, 442-473.

  55. Grimké admits that this principle led him to stop calling certain people “poor white trash” because “we have no right to call any human being…trash.” Grimké, “Christianity and Race Prejudice,” 447.

  56. Grimké, “Christianity and Race Prejudice,” 448.

  57. Grimké, “Christianity and Race Prejudice,” 451-454.

  58. Grimké, “Christianity and Race Prejudice,” 456, 459, 464, 466.

  59. Full details of both affairs are found in Henry Justin Ferry, “Racism and Reunion: A Black Protest by Francis James Grimké,” Journal of Presbyterian History 50, no. 2 (1972): 77–88.

  60. Francis J. Grimké, An Argument against the Union of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (Washington, D.C.: Hayworth Publishing House, 1904), 6.

  61. Grimké, Argument against Union, 8, 11.

  62. Grimké, “Christianity and Race Prejudice,” 268. For more on the event, see David Zucchino, Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2020).

  63. Grimké, “The Negro: His Rights and Wrongs,” 246.

  64. Grimké, Works, Vol. III, 2, 4; cf. 19, 351-352.

  65. Grimké, “The Negro: His Rights and Wrongs,” 269. In this series of sermons, Grimké dismissed the power of the government, the primary political parties, or violence as a ground for hope, but directed his listeners to a Christianity that could form them into people of character and change the hearts and minds of its opponents.

  66. Grimké, “Christianity and Race Prejudice,” 471.

  67. Grimké, “The Negro: His Rights and Wrongs,” 267. Cf Grimké, “Christianity and Race Prejudice,” 463.


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