Slavery was the socioeconomic system under which black people in the United States were deprived of their personal freedom and compelled to perform labor or services without wages or personal liberties at the whim of their white masters; the persons/slaves were thereby considered property  and referred to as "chattel".  By virtue of the institution, slaves were held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase, or birth, and were deprived of their right to leave, to refuse to work, or to receive compensation in return for their labor.  Horrific human abuses took place in slavery, from the separation of families, physical abuse, rape and other forms of sexual abuse, to mutilation, murder, lynching and other unspeakable atrocities.  The institution of slavery has ended in the United States, but there are currently an estimated 27 million victims of various forms of slavery worldwide.


Destructive System

This scene was presented before me to illustrate the selfish love of slavery, and the desperate measures which the South would adopt to cherish the institution, and the dreadful lengths to which they would go before they would yield. The system of slavery has reduced and degraded human beings to the level of the brutes, and the majority of slave masters regard them as such. The consciences of these masters have become seared and hardened, as was Pharaoh's; and if compelled to release their slaves, their principles remain unchanged, and they would make the slave feel their oppressive power if possible. It looked to me like an impossibility now for slavery to be done away. God alone can wrench the slave from the hand of his desperate, relentless oppressor. All the abuse and cruelty exercised toward the slave is justly chargeable to the upholders of the slave system, whether they be Southern or Northern men. 

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1861), 266

The system of slavery…has ruined our nation…

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1862), 255

In this land of light a system is cherished which allows one portion of the human family to enslave another portion, degrading millions of human beings to the level of the brute creation. The equal of this sin is not to be found in heathen lands.

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1862), 258

The whole system of slavery was originated by Satan, who delights in tyrannizing over human beings. Though he has been successful in degrading and corrupting the black race, many are possessed of decided ability, and if they were blessed with opportunities, they would show more intelligence than do many of their more favored brethren among the white people.

Review and Herald, January 28, 1896

Divine Perspective

I was shown how our leading men have treated the poor slaves who have come to them for protection. Angels have recorded it.

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1862), 257

At the Conference at Roosevelt, New York, August 3, 1861, when the brethren and sisters were assembled on the day set apart for humiliation, fasting, and prayer, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon us, and I was taken off in vision and shown the sin of slavery, which has so long been a curse to this nation.

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1862), 264

I was shown that it mattered not how much the master had paid for human flesh and the souls of men; God gives him no title to human souls, and he has no right to hold them as his property. Christ died for the whole human family, whether white or black. God has made man a free moral agent, whether white or black. The institution of slavery does away with this and permits man to exercise over his fellow man a power which God has never granted him, and which belongs alone to God. The slave master has dared assume the responsibility of God over his slave, and accordingly he will be accountable for the sins, ignorance, and vice of the slave. He will be called to an account for the power which he exercises over the slave. The colored race are God's property. Their Maker alone is their master, and those who have dared chain down the body and the soul of the slave, to keep him in degradation like the brutes, will have their retribution. The wrath of God has slumbered, but it will awake and be poured out without mixture of mercy.

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1863), 358

The Lord's eye is upon all His creatures; He loves them all, and makes no difference between white and black, except that He has a special, tender pity for those who are called to bear a greater burden than others.

Our Duty to the Colored People, March 21, 1891

Was it God's purpose that the colored people should have so much guilt and woe in their lives? No.

Review and Herald, December 3, 1895

The Lord God of heaven, by whom all actions are weighed in the golden balances of the sanctuary, looks upon the thousands of colored people, our neighbors, who, in their destitution, are spreading their cases before the Giver of all mercies and blessings.

General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 23, 1899

Race is nothing in the sight of God.

Manuscript 31, 1900

Love of Liberty

Love of liberty leads the poor slaves to leave their masters and risk their lives to obtain liberty. They would never venture to leave their masters and expose themselves to the difficulties and horrors attending their recapture if they had not as strong a love for liberty as any of us. The escaped slaves have endured untold hardships and dangers to obtain their freedom, and as their last hope, with the love of liberty burning in their breasts, they apply to our Government for protection; but their confidence has been treated with the utmost contempt. Many of them have been cruelly treated because they committed so great a crime as to dare to make an effort to obtain their freedom.

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1862), 257

They were ambitious to obtain their freedom, and sought in every possible way to obtain it. At times their deferred hope caused them to flash out with indignation, and they were forced to suffer such fearful punishments that their courage was broken, and to all outward appearances their spirits were subdued. But others planned for years, and finally were successful in gaining their freedom. Many of these have filled positions of trust.

Review and Herald, January 21, 1896

Human Life Abuses

All the abuse and cruelty exercised toward the slave is justly chargeable to the upholders of the slave system, whether they be Southern or Northern men.

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1862), 266

Who is it that held these people in servitude? Who kept them in ignorance, and pursued a course to debase and brutalize them, forcing them to disregard the law of marriage, breaking up the family relation, tearing wife from husband, and husband from wife? If the race is degraded, if they are repulsive in habits and manners, who made them so? Is there not much due to them from the White people?

Our Duty to the Colored People, March 21, 1891

Many of the slaves had noble minds, but the fact that their skin was dark, was sufficient reason for the Whites to treat them as though they were beasts.

Review and Herald, December 17, 1895

We should remember that many among the colored people who have been entrusted with God-given ability, who had intellectual capabilities far superior to those of the masters who claimed them as their property, were forced to endure every indignity, and their souls groaned under the most cruel and unjust oppression.

Review and Herald, January 21, 1896

Fugitive Slave Laws

At the Conference at Roosevelt, New York, August 3, 1861, when the brethren and sisters were assembled on the day set apart for humiliation, fasting, and prayer, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon us, and I was taken off in vision and shown the sin of slavery, which has so long been a curse to this nation. The fugitive slave law was calculated to crush out of man every noble, generous feeling of sympathy that should arise in his heart for the oppressed and suffering slave. It was in direct opposition to the teaching of Christ. God's scourge is now upon the North, because they have so long submitted to the advances of the slave power.

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1862), 264

We have men placed over us for rulers, and laws to govern the people. Were it not for these laws, the condition of the world would be worse than it is now. Some of these laws are good, others are bad. The bad have been increasing, and we are yet to be brought into strait places. But God will sustain His people in being firm and living up to the principles of His word. When the laws of men conflict with the word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be. The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful master, and man has no right to take God's workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own. 

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1862), 201 

Magnanimous Spirit

But though they have been despised and neglected of men, God has given special help and enlightenment to many who were in slavery. He has illuminated their darkness when they were in the most unfavorable circumstances, and they have revealed to the world the elements of the greatness in Christian character. Many of the black race have been rich in faith and trust in God. They have manifested divine compassion for those whom they could help.

Review and Herald, November 26, 1895

Slavery’s Baggage

Those who study the history of the Israelites should also consider the history of the slaves in America, who have suffered, who have been educated in crime, degraded, and oppressed, and left in ignorance to perish.

Review and Herald, December 17, 1895

All heaven beholds with indignation human beings, the workmanship of God, reduced by their fellow men to the lowest depths of degradation and placed on a level with the brute creation. Professed followers of that dear Saviour whose compassion was ever moved at the sight of human woe, heartily engage in this enormous and grievous sin, and deal in slaves and souls of men. Human agony is carried from place to place and bought and sold. Angels have recorded it all; it is written in the book.

The tears of the pious bondmen and bondwomen, of fathers, mothers, and children, brothers and sisters, are all bottled up in heaven. God will restrain His anger but little longer. His wrath burns against this nation and especially against the religious bodies that have sanctioned this terrible traffic and have themselves engaged in it.

Such injustice, such oppression, such sufferings, is looked upon with heartless indifference by many professed followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. And many of them can themselves inflict, with hateful satisfaction, all this indescribable agony; and yet they dare to worship God. It is solemn mockery; Satan exults over it and reproaches Jesus and His angels with such inconsistency, saying, with hellish triumph, "Such are Christ's followers!"

These professed Christians read of the sufferings of the martyrs, and tears course down their cheeks. They wonder that men could ever become so hardened as to practice such cruelty toward their fellow men. Yet those who think and speak thus are at the same time holding human beings in slavery. And this is not all; they sever the ties of nature and cruelly oppress their fellow men. They can inflict most inhuman torture with the same relentless cruelty manifested by papists and heathen toward Christ's followers. Said the angel, "It will be more tolerable for the heathen and for papists in the day of the execution of God's judgment than for such men."

The cries of the oppressed have reached unto heaven, and angels stand amazed at the untold, agonizing sufferings which man, formed in the image of his Maker, causes his fellow man. Said the angel, "The names of the oppressors are written in blood, crossed with stripes, and flooded with agonizing, burning tears of suffering. God's anger will not cease until He has caused this land of light to drink the dregs of the cup of His fury, until He has rewarded unto Babylon double. Reward her even as she rewarded you, double unto her double according to her works; in the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double."

Early Writings, 275-276

Price of Freedom

The destruction of the Southern army was so great that they had no heart to boast. The sight of the dead, the dying, and the wounded gave them but little courage to triumph. This destruction, occurring when they had every advantage, and the North great disadvantage, caused them much perplexity. They know that if the North have an equal chance with them, victory is certain for the North. Their only hope is to occupy positions difficult of approach, and then have formidable arrangements to hurl destruction on every hand.

The South have strengthened themselves greatly since their rebellion first commenced. If active measures had then been taken by the North, this rebellion would have been speedily crushed out. But that which was small at first has increased in strength and numbers until it has become most powerful.

Other nations are intently watching this nation, for what purpose I was not informed, and are making great preparations for some event. The greatest perplexity and anxiety now exists among our national men. Proslavery men and traitors are in the very midst of them; and while these are professedly in favor of the Union, they have an influence in making decisions, some of which even favor the South. 

I was shown the inhabitants of the earth in the utmost confusion. War, bloodshed, privation, want, famine, and pestilence were abroad in the land. As these things surrounded God's people, they began to press together, and to cast aside their little difficulties. Self-dignity no longer controlled them; deep humility took its place. Suffering, perplexity, and privation caused reason to resume its throne, and the passionate and unreasonable man became sane, and acted with discretion and wisdom.

Testimonies, Volume 1 (1861), 266-268 [Conference at Roosevelt, New York, August 3, 1861]

Righteous Restitution

After so great a wrong has been done them, should not an earnest effort be made to lift them up? The truth must be carried to them. They have souls to save as well as we…. They [the black race] have been wounded by a so-called Christian nation.

Our Duty to the Colored People, March 21, 1891

They have been left by the wayside, and decided efforts will have to be made to counteract the wrong that has been done them.

Review and Herald, November 26, 1895

The American nation owes a debt of love to the colored race, and God has ordained that they should make restitution for the wrong they have done them in the past.

Review and Herald, January 21, 1896


One of the difficulties attending the work is that many of the white people living where the colored people are numerous are not willing that special efforts should be put forth to uplift them. When they see schools established for them, when they see them being taught to be self-supporting, to follow trades, to provide themselves with comfortable homes instead of continuing to live in hovels, they see the possibility that selfish plans will be interfered with--that they will no longer be able to hire the Negro for a mere pittance; and their enmity is aroused. They feel that they are injured and abused. Some act as if slavery had never been abolished. This spirit is growing stronger as the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the world, and in many places it is impossible now to do that work which could have been done for the colored people in past years.

Much might have been accomplished by the people of America if adequate efforts in behalf of the freedmen had been put forth by the Government and by the Christian churches immediately after the emancipation of the slaves. Money should have been used freely to care for and educate them at the time they were so greatly in need of help. But the Government, after a little effort, left the Negro to struggle, unaided, with his burden of difficulties.

Some of the strong Christian churches began a good work, but sadly failed to reach more than a comparatively few; and the Seventh-day Adventist Church has failed to act its part. Some persevering efforts have been put forth by individuals and by societies to uplift the colored people, and a noble work has been done. But how few have had a part in this work which should have had the sympathy and help of all!

Noble efforts have been put forth by some Seventh-day Adventists to do the work that needed to be done for the colored people. Had those who were engaged in this work received the co-operation of all their ministering brethren, the result of their work would now be altogether different from what it is. But the great majority of our ministers did not co-operate, as they should have done, with the few who were struggling to carry forward a much-needed work in a difficult field.

Testimonies, Volume 9 (1909), 204-205