Asa Mahan was a college educator, a pastor, and a passionate abolitionist. He was a champion for higher education for African American students and women.
As an opponent of slavery, Mahan advocated for the immediate freedom of slaves. Mahan left his position as a board member of Lane Theological Seminary when the school prohibited students from talking about slavery. Mahan then became the first president of Oberlin College on the condition that the staff and students must be allowed freedom of speech and the school must admit African American students. As president of the college, Mahan encouraged students and faculty to support the freedom of slaves and advocate for the rights and equality of African Americans and women. These viewpoints eventually cost Mahan his job when he chose to resign rather than change his views, as requested by the college.
Mahan succeeded in forcing the college to admit African American students (only the second college to do so). He also succeeded in higher education for women. As Mahan wrote in his autobiography, "I have no occasion to be ashamed to have it universally known that I am the first man in the history of the race who conducted women through a full course of liberal education..."
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Mahan became a devoted Christian at the age of 18. Mahan believed in his relationship with Jesus and that he was going to have eternal life through Jesus. Mahan advanced equality because of his belief in Jesus and the gospel message.
In his book “The True Believer: His Character, Duty, and Privileges,” Mahan wrote, “It is a fundamental design of Christ, in the plan of redemption, that the principles of the gospel, or the law of love, shall be carried out and exemplified by the believer, in every condition and relation in life-- that he shall eat, and drink, and clothe his body, demean himself in the family, in the church, and before the world, and regulate all his interests and transactions with his fellow-men, under the influence of the same spirit of love by which Christ was induced to ‘become poor for our sakes, that we, through his poverty, might be made rich.’”
Mahan also wrote, “It is the privilege and duty of every Christian to possess this glory, not only in eternity, but in this life. It is given, as remarked above, for the express purpose of inducing the world to believe in Christ.”