Reflection on Running A Thousand Miles For Freedom
The slave narrative Running a Thousand Miles For Freedom; Or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery tells the story of William Craft and his wife escaping the clutches of slavery to earn their freedom. The Crafts, both enslaved in the South, fled to the North in hopes of escaping slavery and earning their liberty. However, after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Crafts left the United States, seeking refuge in England. Throughout, the narrative William Craft discussed the relation between religion and slavery. Ultimately, highlighting the shortcomings of the argument for slavery.
In the narrative, Craft analyzes the link between American slavery and Christianity. He states that he and his wife did not experience the cruel and evil side of slavery, but they were deprived of all legal rights and could not call the bones that God gave them their own. Christian slaveholders claimed that “…God made the black man to be slave for the white (37).” Craft explains that they, the slaveholders, believe that every free colored persons was in open rebellion of heaven and that they, the slave owners, are the agents of God and may pour upon sinners unrestrained vengeance. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 highlights this type of thinking, since all free slaves living in the North could now be sold or taken back into slavery. William states that “this shameful conduct [slavery] gave me a thorough hatred, not for true Christianity, but for slave-holding piety (10).”; whereas piety is defined as devout fulfillment of religious obligations. One of the Bishops of Vermont stated, in a lecture, that “every Christian is authorised by the Divine Law to own slaves, provided they were not treated with unnecessary cruelty (97).” William argues that slavery was not approved by God. He clarifies that God was against slavery that in the Bible in the 23rd chapter of Deuteronomy, it is stated that “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.” Craft lists another example from the Bible stating “ hide the outcast. Bewray not him that wandereth. Let mine outcasts dwell with thee. Be thou a convert to them from the face of the spoiler.” Craft further supports his argument with the allusion of the south as Egypt and slaves as the Israelites. The Israelites enslaved in Egypt guided by God escaped slavery and headed to the promised land, Israel. The connection between the slaves and the Israelites is that they are both children of God, forced to submit to mankind and escape to a promise land of freedom.The argument is since God wanted the Israelites freed from chains, why would he want the American slaves in chains? Crafts argues that God is completely for the freedom of all. In addition, Craft attacks the integrity of Christian slave owners by stating that they are so eager “…to prostrate themselves before the great idol of slavery (98)” The slave owners were going against God’s word by worshipping a false and evil idol, slavery. Ultimately, Craft’s narrative forces the audience to question the true state of what makes one a true follower of the Almighty God.
In Craft’s slave narrative, he clarifies the clear distinction between blasphemy and the gospel. The actions of slaveholders were not only sins against fellow men and women, but disrespect toward God and the divine gospel. Slaveholders used the Bible as a way to suppress slaves, due to their inability to read and interpret the text. The usage of the Bible as a way to suppress others is not only used in the past but in the present. Currently in America and most of the world, Christians use the gospel as a way to suppress those who are homosexuals or anyone who disagrees with the Christian text. There are few passages that clearly define homosexuals as unnaturally and ungodly.Such as in Leviticus 18:22, it’s written that “you shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”. I do not know the true will of the Lord, but what I do know is that man does not decide what is right and holy. The true master of mankind and all it’s beings is God, creator of heaven and earth, a fact known by William Craft then and the mass majority of people today.