Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education

John G. Fee

fee-250John Gregg Fee (1816-1901) was born into a Presbyterian slaveholding family in Bracken County, Kentucky. He attended college for two years in Oxford, Ohio, and graduated from Augusta College in Augusta, Kentucky, a college founded by Kentucky Methodist abolitionists James and Arthur Thome. He received his theological training at Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 1855, against the backdrop of the end of the Mexican American War, passage of the Missouri Compromise, which authorized and funded the Fugitive Slave Law, formation of the Republican Party for the abolition of slavery, and Plains Indians ceding their lands in exchange for a reservation system, abolitionist Presbyterian minister John Gregg Fee (1816-1901) established Berea College. Fee and other Berea College founders believed that to oppose slavery without opposing the American caste system would continue to breed social inequality. From its founding, the college was an anomaly — an interracial, co-educational, cohabitating institution, opposed to slavery and caste within an antebellum, slaveholding South. To break the system of caste, the school founders committed themselves to providing a church and free education to all. Basing his argument for inclusive education on a strict understanding of the Christian gospel, in 1847 Fee published an antislavery manual in Maysville, Kentucky. His writing advocated the oneness of the entire human race, an extremely controversial belief in his day, in which he stated “God hath made of one blood all nations of men.”

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