Kenneth Cleaver

Primary Subject Area

History, Church; History, United States


apologist, proslavery, slavery, Stringfellow, Thornton, Virginia


Historians have done a tremendous job at their inquiries into biblical proslavery ideology, even though their focus is primarily on the apologists’ arguments in regard to slavery. These historians gave the scholarly world a clear understanding of how and why men defended slavery, but they only focus on their proslavery thought, which creates an incomplete picture of the apologist.

This work focuses on a minister named Thornton Stringfellow who lived in Culpeper, Virginia during the nineteenth century, in the tumultuous time leading up to the American Civil War. By examining Stringfellow’s personal background, the historical events that took place during his life, and his lesser-known works, it is clear that Stringfellow should be remembered for much more than his proslavery ideology: he should be remembered as a well-educated man that toiled and labored most of his life fighting for the Christian faith. His primary focus in all of his writings was not slavery or even the events of the time. His primary purpose was to share the love of God through the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even if he believed that purpose could be best accomplished without the abolition of slavery.

By broadening the historians’ view of Stringfellow’s life and works, a new understanding of Stringfellow is created.