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Like the Congregationalists, Presbyterians represented the Calvinist viewpoint within the Protestant movement.

Presbyterians took part early in the movement for the abolition of slavery in America. The Presbyterian Synod of New York and Philadelphia came out against slavery in 1787. In May 1818, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church took a forceful stand against slavery:

We consider the voluntary enslaving of one part of the human race by another as a gross violation of the most precious and sacred rights of human nature; as utterly inconsistent with the law of God which requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves; and as totally irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the Gospel of Christ, which enjoin that "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."

Thomas Jefferson was not an admirer of Presbyterianism. In 1822, he wrote in a letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper:

The atmosphere of our country is unquestionably charged with a threatening cloud of fanaticism, lighter in some parts, denser in others, but too heavy in all. I had no idea, however, that in Pennsylvania, the cradle of toleration and freedom of religion, it could have arisen to the height you describe. This must be owing to the growth of Presbyterianism. The blasphemy and absurdity of the five points of Calvin, and the impossibility of defending them, render their advocates impatient of reasoning, irritable, and prone to denunciation.

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