colony of Georgia, a ban designed to prevent the formation of a planter class preoccupied with the acquisition of outsized wealth. The antislavery impulse in the British colonies often originated in a concern for the spiritual health of the slaveholder.6
Those preoccupied with the welfare of captive Africans typically advocated the conversion of slaves to Christianity. Before 1760, the humanitarian impulse was channelled into missionary work. This was as true in the new British and French American settlements as in the established Spanish and the Portuguese colonies. The Christianization of slavery was the aim of religious leaders as diverse as the Jesuit Anthony Vieira in Brazil, the Quaker George Fox in Barbados, and the Puritan Cotton Mather in Massachusetts. Dependence on lay patronage meant that the clergy had little room for independent action on the question of slavery, even if inclined. The slaveholding elite developed a habit of harassing or running off those ministers excessively critical of the established order. It seemed more practical and most useful to find ways to civilize slavery, to make slaveholding conform with the ideal of Christian servitude, and to render the institution more humane and more just, so that 'servants' and masters recognized and honoured their duties and obligations to each other. An attack on slavery, all understood, entailed also an attack on private property and the social order. The promotion of Christianity, by contrast, seemed to offer the most promising way to sanctify human bondage and restrain its worst abuses without fomenting revolutionary change.
These impulses received official support in the European capitals with overseas colonies, particularly in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In 1701, the Portuguese Monarch Peter II directed sugar-mill owners to allow slaves to cultivate their provision plots on Saturdays so that they would be free to attend religious services on Sundays. In the same year, the Church of England responded to the rapid growth of the British slave trade by establishing a missionary organization, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which was charged to promote conversion to the Anglican faith in the British colonies. Such endorsements of missionary work aimed to remind masters that they too owed obedience to higher authorities, both temporal and sacred. This orientation was most apparent in the CodeNoir promulgated in 1685 to provide a legal framework for slavery in the French Caribbean colonies. The Code Noir addressed almost every aspect of plantation life, the mode of justice, forms of punishment, the work regime, and the respective rights of masters and slaves. The first fourteen articles of the Code prescribed the various ways the Catholic Church was to shape the moral
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