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Slavery, is it worth it?
An (imaginary) public debate between two preachers.
by Rit Nosotro
There is a free black preacher and a southern preacher that are good friends, but they rarely see each other, because their always on the road. And when they do see each other they never talk about slavery, the one subject they disagree on. The southerner respects free blacks and has no problem with them, but he believes that it is OK to have slaves, he is a traveling preacher, or more like a traveling guest speaker in the south. The black preacher believes that it is wrong to have slaves, he travels around in the south preaching, where he can, to the slaves on different plantations, and to anyone else that will listen. One day a mutual pastor friend of theirs asks both of them to come to his church. He wants to have a discussion on slavery. This preacher’s congregation is mixed, there are blacks and whites, and people who believe in slavery and people who don’t. The two preachers agree to the discussion. This takes place a few years before the civil war.
Reverend Isaac Ross: Is a well-known black preacher, a bachelor who travels from plantation to plantation preaching to the slaves. He too was once a slave and knows how hard the work is, sometimes he helps out at a plantation for a little while before moving to the next one. He is kind, respectful, and has a loud, booming voice, which he often accents with strong hand movements. He preaches very strongly against slavery now that he is free. He is a huge, kind looking man with a powerful build, dark brown eyes, and short curly black hair.
Reverend John Robbins: Is a traveling preacher, or guest speaker. He is respectful to everybody, even slaves. He doesn’t mind free blacks and is very courteous to them but he feels that it is OK to have slaves. He is also kind, respectful, and well known. He is also a large man with a muscular build, beautifully clear, kind hazel eyes, short brown hair, and a beard and mustache. Reverend John preaches with a loud clear voice, which is accompanied by much gesturing.
Reverend Andrew Watkins: Reverend Andrew is the pastor at First Christ Church. He is a mutual friend of Reverends Isaac and John. It was he that came up with the idea of the discussion. He is well known for not being partial to people, which is good because he pastors a mixed church. He is a rather tiny man compared to John and Isaac, but even though shorter then both; he still has the same muscular build. He has light brown hair, with a beard and mustache, a deep, medium loud voice, and piercing yet kind blue eyes.
People Watching the Discussion: A good mix of whites and blacks. A somewhat lively group of both men and women.
This play will take place in a church setting. There is a low stage and two lecterns, one on each side of the stage. Behind these are chairs for Isaac and John to sit in. Then facing these are rows of pews for the onlookers to sit in.
ISAAC: (Shakes John‘s hand) Heidi John!
JOHN: (Shakes Isaac’s hand) Heidi Isaac! Hire yew been? Long time since I’ve seen you round these here parts.
ISAAC: Could says the same bout yo'self. Been fine though and hows bouts yo'self?
JOHN: Just dandy. So ya ready to go at it today?
ISAAC: Yes-siree, you can bet I am. Hows a bouts you?
JOHN: Ready as can be. We’ll give um a whoppin good show.
ISAAC: Yes-siree we will.
(Reverend Andrew comes out of the church.)
ANDREW: (Shakes hands with both John and Isaac.) Heidi, John and Isaac! It’s been a right long time sense we’ve all been gathered t'gether like this.
(John and Isaac nod in agreement, and say, sure has.)
ANDREW: Well I’ve come out to see if y’all are a ready to start your discussion.
John and Isaac: (In unison) Yes-siree let’s start that thar discussion.
(The three of them go inside. Reverend Andrew rings the bell to call everyone inside. Everyone that was talking on the grass goes into the church.)
(Inside the church)
(Everyone is seated. John and Isaac sit on opposite sides of the sanctuary facing the lectern that they will be using.)
ANDREW: (Stands up in front of the congregation on the stage.) Thank y'all for a comin' here today. This heres a right special treat to have these two genlemen here to show us somef the goods and bads of slavery. (Walks over and motions to Isaac to stand up.) Rev. Isaac Ross heres a good friend of mine. A former slave himself he knows the hardships of slavery and now that hes a free he preaches to anyone who’ll listen about why we should put an end it. he will be a showin us the bad side of slavery today. (Walks over to John and motions him to stand up.) Reverend John Robbins here is also a good friend o mine and o Reverend Isaac’s. Reverend John rspects black people, slave or free, but blieves that its OK to hold slaves. He’ll be a showin us today the good of slavery.
(John and Isaac walk to the middle of the stage and shake hands; they then walk to their different lecterns and sit in the chairs provided behind the lecterns.)
ANDREW: The first point that we’ll gunu be discussin tday is why you think it’s a OK or a not OK to hold slaves? Rev. John let’s a start with you.
(John stands up and walks to his lectern. Andrew sits down in his chair.)
JOHN: I believe that it’s OK to hold slaves because, numer one, I aint seen no commanment written anywheres that says, thou shall not have slaves. Numer two, look at all of them peoples in the Bible who held slaves, or servants, Abrham, Joseph, David, Isaac, now I’m sure that yall know which Isaac I mean. Right? Isaac son of Abrham. All of these Gawd fearin men, but they had slaves and servants, and look at Jeffson, Washinton, and many of our other founding fathers, they had slaves even though they believed that slavery was wrong, it’s cause they needed them. Just like now with our huge plantations we need hard cheep workers, and ifn we can get that usin black slaves then that’s what we’re all a gunna to use.
Some of the white men in the crowd nod heads in agreement.
(John steps back and sits down in his chair on the stage. Andrew gets up and walks to the front.)
ANDREW: Thank ya Rev. John. Now Rev. Isaac its a your turn to tell usall why you despise slavery.
(Isaac stands up from his chair and walks up to his lectern. Andrew sits back down in his seat.)
ISAAC: Well as some of ya’ll might know, I was a slave. So I know first hand how hard life as a slave can be. So I suggest that before ya’ll go supportin slavery, why don’t ya’ll try livin it for a while. I think that then ya’ll ll either change your minds or, be glad your not the one doin the work, but hopefully if that don’t change your mind, ya’ll ll go a little easier on your slaves. Yeah, Jeffson, and Washinton had slaves, but they weren’t cruel and heartless to em. I don’t believe that any human bein should have to go through some of the things I’ve seen done to some slaves. Beatins, havin their families split up, and other even crueler “punishments” or so they call em. I say their unnecessary cruelties.
From the black people, and the supporting whites in the congregation you hear amens and see head nods.
(Isaac steps back and sits back down on his chair. Andrew stands up and walks to the front.)
ANDREW: Thank ya Rev. Isaac. Now I think a we’all move to the subject of, do ya feel slavery is biblical? Rev. Isaac lets a start with you this a time.
(Isaac stands back up and walks back to his lectern. Andrew sits back down in his seat.)
ISAAC: I don’t believe that slavery is biblical. I believe that Gawd
never intend for there to be slavery. I believe that slavery was something that
came after that there fall of man.
Slavery I feel is not biblical because, thar was a time in Israel that them thar Israelites held thar fellow Israelites as slaves. Gawd told them that theyall needed to let all of them thar Israelite slaves go free, cause he didn’t want them Israelites to be a holdin a fellow Israelite in bondage. So if Gawd didn’t want the Israelites a holdin each other in bondage, why would he want us to a hold each other, fellow men and women, in bondage? Also, when God told Abrham that his descendents would go into Egypt and be slaves thar, he also told him that he would punish the country that enslaved em. I think that Gawd’ll do that to any country that persecutes their fellow human beings by a holdin em in slavery.
You hear more amens and see more head nodding for the black congregation and supporting whites.
(Isaac sits down in his chair. Andrew stands up and walks to the front.)
ANDREW: Thank ya Rev. Isaac. Now to hear from you Rev. John. Do you believe slaverys biblical?
(Andrew sits back down in his chair. John stands up and walks to his lectern.)
JOHN: I blieve that slavery is biblical. I blieve it’s a biblical cause of Noah's’ Curse. This curse was put on Ham and his decednts. The people that poplated the contnent of Africa, the Hamitic people. This curse put on em by Ham’s father, Noah, said that the descendnts of Ham would be the lowest of slaves to is brothers. So if the Hamitic people poplated Africa, then the rest of usall here wouldf came from the descndents of Shem and Japheth, the brothers of Ham. So that would mean that the blacks are suposed to be our slaves, according to Noah. That thar’s why I feel slavery is biblical.
You hear a few grunts and see a few head nods.
(John sits back down in his chair. Andrew stands up and walks to the front.)
ANDREW: Thank ya Rev. John. Now I’s thinks it be time to take a little break. Let’s all a mossy on outside and get some fresh ear before we’all move on to the subject of slavery and politics.
(Everyone gets up and starts talking. Some of the men along with the reverends go outside to have a smoke.)
MAN #1: (To Reverends John, Andrew, and Isaac) Smoke?
ANDREW: Yes I believe I wll have a one.
JOHN: Yes, thank ya.
ISAAC: No, thank ya.
(There is a moments pause as the men light their cigarettes.)
MAN #1: So have yall heard of that thar new idear a goin round town?
(Head shakes all around.)
MAN #1: It says that a smokin them cigarettes and cigars supposed to be good for ya.
MAN #2: What in the world they a sayin that for?
MAN #3: Yeah, and who here started this here crazy idear?
MAN #1: On of them crazy baccy farmers that’s who started this madness. He’s a hopin to boost his baccy sales this year.
MAN #2: That’s madness. What do you think Rev.
ANDREW: I think, it’s a scandalous.
JOHN: That thars what I think too.
ISAAC: I think that it be just wrong. Just think of all that extra work his slaves ll be doin. It just aint right. Some a getn rich at the expense of others. Hesa getting rich by enslaving them thar blacks and by deceiving all yall whites. Some people aint just hard on thar slaves, thar cruel to thar fellow freemen too.
The other men nod sadly in agreement.
(The men are done smoking and throw the butts of their cigarettes away.)
ANDREW: Well, now that weall’ve had a good smoke, and it was just so healthy for us.
(All the men laugh)
ANDREW: Letsall go back inside and a finish up that thar discussion.
(The men walk back inside the church, talking as they go. Rev. Andrew rings the bell again and everyone else goes back inside, and take their seats again. Reverend Andrew stands up and walks to the front.)
ANDREW: Now that we’ve all had that thar nice break let’s get back to that thar discussion. We are now lookin at the topic of constitutional slavery. Is slavery constitutional? John let’s a start with ya.
(Andrew sits back down and John stands up and walks to his lectern.)
JOHN: I don’t believe that thars a way to say that slaverys constitutional. Even if weall want to believe that it is. Our foundin fathers didn’t want slavery, and they wrote up the Constitution. So I don’t see how slavery can be constitutional, but why shouldn’t it be constitutional? Our foundin fathers had slaves. How come they didn’t put anything in the constitution on slavery? Well cause they didn’t isn’t it alright for us to have slaves? I say it is.
Grunts and head nods.
(John sits back down. Andrew stands up and walks to the front.)
ANDREW: Thank ya Rev. John. Now Rev. Isaac it’s your turn, do ya believe that slaverys constitutional.
(Andrew sits down. Isaac stands up and walks to his lectern.)
ISAAC: No I don’t believe that slaverys constitutional. The Constitution aint got notin in it that supports slavery, and our founding fathers didn’t support slavery even though theyall had slaves. So why’d they put something in the Constitution that would contradict what a majority of them believed? That human life is precious and conscrated by Gawd and that all human life is worth pertectin no matter what the backround of the person. Freedom was so important to the foundin fathers they were willin to lay down their lives, fortunes, and their honor to obtain it.
(Isaac sits down. Andrew stands up)
ANDREW: Thank ya Rev. Isaac. And with that famous quote, weall conclude this slavery discussion thank ya both very much for a bein here. Ya’ve both given us some good infermation today on slavery. Thank ya also to yall who came today to listen to this here lively discussion on slavery. I’m sure that yall ll walk away from it with much to mull over.
(The three men shake hands and everyone goes outside to socialize.)