As slavery continued to thrive in the United States, slave traders, many of whom called themselves Christian, participated in the business of selling human beings. As the economy of the South was growing, more and more labor was needed, and so many enslaved Africans who lived north of the deep South were sought as laborers whose work would create the economy which grew as the country grew. Human beings were captured in Maryland and made to walk the nearly five hundred miles to South Carolina and beyond, chained together with metal collars around their necks and chains around their hands and feet. They were made to walk anywhere from ten to twenty miles a day. They were not allowed to bathe while they made the journey, so they were filthy, their bodies infested with lice and other pesky and dangerous insects. One route sometimes used in the trek to the Deep South took them past the US Capital, that bastion which was supposed to represent the ideals and values of America. It was embarrassing to lawmakers who saw them pass. Though they believed in and supported slavery, they did not like to see the raw evidence of their hypocrisy. It bothered them, as it did some religious leaders, but neither group was willing to eliminate the institution of slavery.
From our beginning as a nation, we were not one, and the church, as opposed to being a harbinger of justice and morality, showed itself to be incapable of preaching that God’s love was inclusive of everyone. Both the church and the state, when it came to racism, were weak from the start.
From “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America” by Susan K. Williams Smith