Feb 25, 2007

Know Your Evangelicals: Nathan Lord

Name: Nathan Lord (1792 - 1870)

Why you should know him: Lord abandoned abolitionism to promote the morality of the slave trade, which set him apart from his Northern intellectual and spiritual peers. Lord claimed that abolitionism places human intuition above God's will, human reason above God's word.

President of Dartmouth (1828 - 1863)

Graduate of Bowdoin and Andover Theological Seminary

A Letter to J.M. Conrad... on Slavery (1860)
A northern presbyter's second letter to ministers of the gospel of all denominations on slavery (1855)

Background: According to Dartmouth University,
The relative brevity of the Dana and Tyler administrations was more than offset by the long tenure of President Nathan Lord. A graduate of Bowdoin College and a Congregational minister, Lord remained at the helm of Dartmouth College for 35 years, longer than any president except John Wheelock. Lord was an independent thinker, an athlete and a strict disciplinarian. He is said to have preached scripture from memory, unbeknownst to his audience to whom his eyes were always camouflaged by dark glasses. Lord was also a prodigious fund raiser, establishing the College's first alumni association and securing $50,000 in a general solicitation that enabled Dartmouth to build Thornton and Wentworth Halls, the two Greek Revival buildings flanking Dartmouth Hall.

Under the leadership of Nathan Lord Dartmouth enjoyed considerable growth, both in student enrollments and in the physical campus. But many of Lord's strongly held views brought him into conflict with the campus and the external world. He looked on academic awards and other symbols of student achievement as subversive forces in what he considered to be the higher pursuits of virtue and wisdom, and held strong pro-slavery views. As the nation entered into Civil War, those views became more and more repugnant to Dartmouth's constituencies, including several prominent alumni, among them Amos Tuck (1835) and Gilman Marston (1837), a general in the Union Army. Finally, in 1863, the Dartmouth Trustees were asked to remove Dr. Lord from office. Instead, he tendered his resignation.
According to Wilbur Smith,
One of its greatest presidents, under whom Dartmouth experience unusual growth, Nathan Lord (1828-1863), was one who, says the latest historian of Dartmouth, "based the entire philosophy of life upon a belief in the literal accuracy and inerrancy of Holy Writ . . . He was insistent that God should be the main spring of all the activities of man." It was Nathan Lord himself who, in a famous letter to the alumni of Dartmouth College on its anniversary in 1869, said: "For Christ the college was founded and has been administered. To Christ all its influence in all time belongs."
Quote: "[Slavery] is wisely adapted to the ruder portions of mankind, and, in some conditions of the social state, necessary to its best interests, or to its preservation, during the appointed time."

Quote: "Domestic slavery breaks up the power of undisciplined and barbarous hordes, and prevents their destructive combinations.... The New Testament, equally with the Old, recognizes the natural institution, reflects its peculiar light back upon it, and confirms it as a natural ordinance of God."

Related: Wikipedia Entry on Lord
Primary sources on the great American debate over slavery

[topic via olvlzl the heretic. Apologies to Joe Carter.]

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