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Slavery and racism in the United States run hand in hand and the silver screen is littered with dramatic representations of the hot, hazy environment of the Slave States at their height. The popular imagination is familiar with the white plantation house, the sugar cane and the cotton. Those who seek to peer deeper into the ways in which the people who filled those palaces and piles thought will be well served by ‘The Religious Instruction of the Negroes’. <br><br>As a Presbyterian minister and the son of a Plantation owner, Charles Colcock Jones is the epitome of the establishment voice for this time and place. His reflections will run profoundly counter to the modern reader’s sense of human equality but the ways in which he does and does not allow the humanity of the black population are in themselves fascinating. Read the praise he has for ‘colored ministers’ but brace for the descriptions of the flaws he believes he sees in the black population of the plantations he has visited. <br><br>He explores largely by accident the economic realities of the plantation, the requirements of the work force, the rhythms of the seasons, the high days and holidays. He takes a particularly pragmatic approach to proselytising, ready to sell down the river any denominational quirks for the overall objective of transmitting what he saw as the core elements of Christian doctrine. The twin threads of socially enforced bigotry and radicalism run through this tract and the opportunity to see that cognitive dissonance and step into the 19th century should not be missed.