Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Alexander McLeod's stand against slavery

...It was in 1800 and the story is recounted in chapter four of McLeod's biography :

In the fall of 1800, a call was made on Mr. McLeod to the pastoral charge of the united congregations of the city of New York, and Coldenham, in Orange county, in the same State. Mr. McLeod demurred, on the plea that there were slaveholders among the subscribers to the call. He urged this fact as reason for rejecting the call. The Presbytery now having this subject regularly brought before them, determined at once to purge our section of the church of the great evil of slavery. They enacted that no slaveholder should be allowed the communion of the church. Thus, at Mr. McLeod’s suggestion, the subject was acted upon, even before he became a member of Presbytery, and this inhuman and demoralizing practice was purged from our connection. It is true, it only required to be mentioned, and be regularly brought before the Court. There was no dissenting voice in condemning the nefarious traffic in human flesh. From that period forward, none either practising or abetting slavery in any shape, has been found on the records of our ecclesiastical connection.
[Source : Wylie, Samuel Brown, D.D., Memoir of Alexander McLeod, D.D., New York (New York: Charles Scribner, 145 Nassau Street, 1855), page 51.]

Alexander McLeod
[ 1774-1833]
The portrait shown above is that of the frontispiece to the Memoir of Alexander McLeod. It is from a painting by the famous firm of Waldo and Jewett. Compare the above work with the portrait, also by Waldo and Jewett, which is currently on display in the PCA Historical Center, shown below..

While McLeod's denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, suffered a split in 1833, that portion of the split that his son affiliated with eventually became part of the Presbyterian Church in America in 1982. Thus McLeod's significance for the PCA.
A few of the Reformed Presbyterian congregations that have continued to this day and that are now part of the PCA include :

  • Reformed Presbyterian Church in Duanesburgh, NY [organized in 1795]
  • First Reformed Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA [organized in 1800]
  • Bethel Reformed Presbyterian Church, Sparta, IL [organized in 1819]
  • Third Reformed Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA [organized in 1846]
  • and Grandcote Reformed Presbyterian Church, Coulterville, IL [organized in 1850], among others.
This second portrait appears to show a somewhat younger Alexander McLeod. Do you agree?
Click here to see the two portraits side by side

Click here to read more of McLeod's biography.
[the first four chapters have been prepared in pdf format]

Click here to read McLeod's exposition of his position, Negro Slavery Unjustifiable
[The text of this document is presented as a pdf file in order to preserve the format of the original printing. Working from an original copy of the work, Mr. Otis Pickett, an intern at the PCA Historical Center, carefully prepared the text such that the page content, typestyle, line breaks and pagination resemble as closely as possible the work as it was printed in 1802.]

Wylie, Samuel Brown, Memoir of Alexander McLeod, D.D. New York: Charles Scribner, 1855. {HC, inscribed by John Niel McLeod.} — PDF adobe

The Papers of Alexander McLeod and those of his son, John Niel McLeod, have been located and can be accessed at the Archives of the University of Delaware. Their collection was donated to the University in 1972 and processing was completed late in 2005, making the materials now available to researchers. The finding aid to the collection can be viewed online at http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/findaids/mcleod.htm


A bibliography of the published works of Alexander McLeod is presented here in chronological order.
Where copies are available at the PCA Historical Center, "{HC}" follows the entry. We are seeking copies of all titles not currently held.
Links to off-site digital editions are shown by the indication "PDF adobe".

Negro slavery unjustifiable - a discourse.
New York: T. & F. Swords, 1802), 42pp.; 24cm. {HC}
Reprinted, Glasgow: Printed by Stephen Young, 1804, 40pp.; 21cm.;
Reprinted, Paisley : Alex. Gardner ; Glasgow, 1846 3rd ed., vii, [5]-32 p.; 22 cm.
Reprinted, New York: A. McLeod, 1860 10th ed., 46pp.
Digitized text prepared in pdf format by the PCA Historical Center, 2006, working from the 1802 edition. A digital scan of the eleventh edition is available off-site: — PDF adobe

1803 Messiah, governor of the nations of the earth, a discourse. New York: Printed by T. & J. Swords, 1803, 47pp. {HC}


The Ecclesiastical Catechism, being a series of questions, relative to the Christian church, stated and answered, with the Scripture proofs
. Danville [Vt.]: Printed by Ebenezer Eaton, 1807, v, 112pp. [first edition in 1806?]— PDF adobe


The Constitution, Character, and Duties of the Gospel Ministry : A sermon, preached at the ordination of the Rev. Gilbert McMaster, in the First Presbyterian Church, Duanesburgh.
New-York: Printed by J. Seymour, 1808, 72pp.; 21cm. {HC}

Introduction to The Duty and Doctrine of Baptism : in thirteen sermons, by Thomas Bradbury. New York: Published by William Barlas, 1810, 310pp.; 18cm.; Introduction and Notes by Alexander M'Leod and John B. Romeyn

Wylie, Samuel B. and Alexander M’Leod, An Address to the Members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church; recommending Exertions for Raising a Fund for the Support of the Theological Seminary (New York : Published by S. Whiting & Co., Theological and Classical Booksellers, 96 Broadway. Paul & Thomas, Printers, 1811), 10, [2] pp. {HC}
Reprinted as The constitution of the theological seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church : with an address, &c.by Samuel B. Wylie and Alexander M'Leod. New-York: S. Whiting & Co., 1811, 12pp.; 23cm.

The Larger Catechism.
New-York: Stereotyped and printed by J. Watts & Co., for Whiting & Watson, 1813, 142pp. — PDF adobe


The Character, History, Death, and Resurrection of "The two witnesses."
Edinburgh: W.P. Kennedy, 1843, 3rd ed., 24 p.; 21 cm. Indicated as having first been published in 1814; a fourth edition, also published in 1843, is extant.

Lectures upon the principal prophecies of the Revelation
(New York: Whiting and Watson, 1814), xii, 480pp.; 23cm. {HC} — PDF adobe

A Scriptural View of the Character, Causes, and Ends of the present War (New-York: Eastburn, Kirk and Co., 1815), 224pp.; 22cm. A second edition by the same publisher was issued in the same year. {HC} — PDF adobe

The Life and Power of True Godliness, described in a series of discourses
(New-York: James Eastburn and Co., and William Gilley, 1816), 424pp.; 23cm. {HC} — PDF adobe


Sermons begun 6 Jan'y A.D. 1822. New York : The author, 1822-1823, 229 p.; 16 cm.; one copy has been located at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.


Address to the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America, on their submitting to their consideration the Plan of Corresponding with the General Assembly.


The American Christian expositor : designed to promote the influence of sound principles and social order
. New York: H.C. Sleight, 1831-1833. Periodical: Monthly, 2 vol.; 22 cm. Copies of this title are preserved at the University of Delaware; Emory University (Pitts Theological Library); Jesuit-Krauss-McCormick Library; Princeton University; College of Wooster (OH); Miami University (OH); and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (PA).

Letters to James Renwick Willson (Beaver Falls, PA. Typescript prepared by Elizabeth F. Carson, 1987), 117 leaves; 29cm. One copy preserved at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (PA).

S.B. Wylie, in his biography of McLeod, notes that Rev. McLeod "also wrote the Historical part of the Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Book of Discipline, Form of Covenant, and other public documents; Six Essays on the Atonement; besides contributing largely to the Christian's Magazine; Evangelical Guardian; Evangelical Witness [a very poor digitization of this title]; American Christian Expositor ; and other periodicals."