Rabble-rousing with the Ten Commandments

“Jesse McBride was an antislavery preacher from the Wesleyan Church. He came to North Carolina from Ohio and preached to congregations in Guilford and surrounding counties. [In 1850] McBride gave a young white girl a pamphlet [suggesting] that slaveholders lived in violation of the [Ten] Commandments. He was charged with violation of an 1830 North Carolina statute that made it a crime knowingly to circulate or publish a pamphlet with a ‘tendency’ to cause insurrection or resistance in slaves.

“The press account does not discuss McBride’s legal arguments sufficiently to know how guarantees of free press and religious liberty were applied or even if the issues were raised….At any rate, McBride was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for one year, to stand in the pillory for one hour and to 20 lashes. He was released as part of an agreement that he leave the state.”

— From “The 1859 Crisis over Hinton Helper’s book, ‘The Impending Crisis'” by Michael Kent Curtis, Chicago-Kent Law Review, 1993

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