“If Slavery is a Divine Institute, I Believe We Will Be Successful”

April 21, 2017 | Civil War

Photograph of Members of the 57 Georgia Regiment

Officers and Cook of the 57th Georgia. Source.

Lieutenant William Cowper was a soldier fighting for the Confederacy in the 17th Mississippi. In October 1862, he wrote a letter to his mother after Stephen, a slave, ran away. In it, he expressed ideas of God and his justice that many today would find very foreign:

I don’t know that I much regret the loss of Stephen. I have thought that this war was ordered by Providence, as a means of settling definitely and conclusively the question of slavery: if slavery is a divine institute, I believe we will be successful, that our independence will be recognized and the Southern Confederacy will be established as a Government with slavery as its great distinctive feature. if on the contrary, slavery is a curse and obnoxious to an All Wise and Good Creator I believe that he will make this war, the means of abolishing it from the face of the earth. I have the greatest confidence in the wisdom of God, and believe that all things work together for good to them that we love.

From The Hour of Our Nation’s Agony: The Civil War Letters of Lt. William Cowper (Knoxville, The University of Tennessee Press: 2007). p. 102.

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