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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861.
to themselves, whether they will serve God, or worship Devils—­whether they become christians, or remain heathens as long as they live:  as if either their souls were not worth the saving, or as if we were under no obligation of giving them any instruction:—­which is the true reason why so many of them who are grown up, and lived many years among us, are as entirely ignorant of the principles of religion, as if they had never come into a christian country:—­at least, as to any good or practical purposes.

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“I have dwelt the longer upon this head, because it is of the utmost importance, and seems to be but little considered among us.—­For there is too much reason to fear, that the many vices and immoralities so common among white people;—­the lewdness, drunkenness, quarrelling, abusiveness, swearing, lying, pride, backbiting, overreaching, idleness, and sabbath-breaking, everywhere to be seen among us, are a great encouragement to our Negroes to do the like, and help strongly to confirm them in the habits of wickedness and impiety.

“We ought not only to avoid giving them bad examples, and abstain from all appearance of evil, but also strive to set a daily good example before their eyes, that seeing us lead the way in our own person, they may more readily be persuaded to follow us in the wholesome paths of religion and virtue.

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“We ought to make this reading and studying the holy scriptures, and the reading and explaining them to our children and slaves, and the catechizing or instructing them in the principles of the Christian religion, a stated duty.

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“We ought in a particular manner to take care of the children, and instil early principles of piety and religion into their minds.

“If the grown up slaves, from confirmed habits of vice, are hard to be reclaimed, the children surely are in our power, and may be trained up in the way they should go, with rational hopes that when they are old, they will not depart from it.—­We ought, therefore, to take charge of their education principally upon ourselves, and not leave them entirely to the care of their wicked parents.—­If the present generation be bad, we may hope by this means that the succeeding ones will be much better.  One child well instructed, will take care when grown up to instruct his children; and they again will teach their posterity good things.—­And I am fully of opinion, that the common notion of wickedness running in the blood, is not so general in fact as to be admitted for an axiom.  And that the vices we see descending from parents to their children are chiefly owing to the malignant influence of bad example and conversation.—­And though some persons may be, and undoubtedly are, born with stronger passions and appetites, or with a greater propensity to some particular gratifications or pursuits than others, yet we do not want convincing instances how effectually they may be restrained, or at least corrected and turned to proper and laudable ends, by the force of an early care, and a suitable education.

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