I was writing about the African blacks before the Civil War, when they were deliberately not being edified towards Christianity by the Christians in the South, because to do so, it would have meant they were human beings and shouldn't be kept as slaves.
This is not correct. There were plenty of cases where slaves were taught Christianity as well as learned to read and write. Case in point General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson supported with money and work a Sunday School for both freedmen and slaves. Here is a link to a letter from 1858 in the archives of Virginia Military Institute in which he describes how the school works:
I would have to look for it, but some time ago I read of an letter that he sent home during the Civil War which rather then news of the conflict, which people thought he would write about, he was sending funds to continue the school.
There were also numerous cases of slaves or former slaves who were literate and Christian. These include
Phillis Wheatley http://www.masshist.org/endofslavery/?queryID=57
Absolom Jones, born in slavery who taught himself to read, bought the freedom of his wife and himself and became the first Episcopal priest of African descent in the United States. http://www.aecst.org/ajones.htm
Benjamin Banneker, who had never been a slave, was educated and an important figure.
It was after the suppressed revolt led by Denmark Vesey in 1822 and particularly the Nat Turner Revolt in 1831 that there were more laws passed to forbid literacy. This was to prevent the slaves from reading abolitionist materials and to think of other ways of living.
What have you read that suggested that slaveholders did not try to teach Christianity to their slaves? Do you recall any sources please?
It was a text book of my granddaughters that was a compilation of letters from educated blacks. There were exceptions of course, and I did read a biography about an exceptionally bright black slave in the Caribbean that managed to educate himself and bought his freedom. I wish I could recall his name, but he had a successful business and spoke to Parlament against slavery. He later became a minister and married in Britain.
The one thing that made an impression on me was that he couldn't understand how the English people who were so kind in Britain could be so cruel in the Caribbean. These books also changed my mind about slavery in the South, since I couldn't imagine Southerners being any different pre Civil War than the way they are now. I gathered from these books that a bright black slave could gain favors and even an education, something that the others who were made to work in the fields could not. Also many of them were the illegitimate children or grandchildren of the slave owners, which was a step above what existed in the Muslim world. I had read that the black babies born in the harems were killed, which would account for the lack of mulatto's in the Islamic world.
One of the tales was about a minister that tried to speak English in the way the slaves spoke, that way they could understand him when he preached to them. He is the one that mentioned the 'hexes', which I personally attribute to the evil that seemed to permeat society at the time. The stories in the book did show a great deal of cruelty. His white congregation did get annoyed with him, since they felt he was being paid to minister to them and not to preach to the slaves.
As you know, there was a difference in the position of the slaves that worked in the fields and the brighter slaves that worked in the homes. I'm sure the nannies that nursed and raised the children of the owners were well loved and I'm sure they were Christian. I was shocked though at some of the stories, such as the black children running around naked even in cold weather.
As for the blacks being looked upon as not being fully human, it was a sign of the times. There is a book in the Smithsonian called: Apes and Angels, with caricatures of the Irish who at the time were considered white apes. These weren't only British caricatures. Many were American.