WMU News

Saillant speaks at Library of Congress

Oct. 1, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- The impact of theologian Jonathan Edwards' work on those opposing the U.S. slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries will be the focus of a talk by a Western Michigan University professor at the Library of Congress this week.

Dr. John Saillant, professor of English and history at WMU, will speak as part of a celebration of the American theologian's 300th birthday. His address is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 3, at the Library of Congress.

Saillant's talk will address how African-Americans used Edwards' writings in their arguments against the slave trade and slavery during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

"What Edwards' ideas accomplished was to encourage black people to interpret the Bible," says Saillant. "The result was that the Bible gave evidence from God's word to argue for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery."

The Library of Congress is the world's largest library with more than 126 million items in inventory. It functions as the research center for Congress and for the American public.

Saillant's area of expertise is colonial history, with an emphasis on black abolitionist literature prior to 1830. He has recently published a monograph, "Black Puritan, Black Republican: The Life and Thought of Lemuel Haynes, 1753-1833," and an edition of documents, "Face Zion Forward."

Saillant has been a member of the WMU faculty since 1997. Before coming to WMU, he taught at Brown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Brown University in 1979, 1981 and 1989, respectively.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 616 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400