The debate over slavery in America was essentially a religious debate. All sides claimed the authority of the Bible and the Christian tradition. The slaveowners invoked Paul and pointed to the fact that slavery had existed in Christian countries since the time of Christ. Free blacks who agitated for the emancipation of their fellow blacks invoked the narrative of liberation in the Book of Exodus, in which Moses led the captive Israelites to freedom: “Go down, Moses, way down to Egypt land and tell old Pharaoh, let my people go.”