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THE SOUTHERN BAPTISTS IN THE CONFEDERACY W. Harrison Daniel in 1860 the southern baptists constituted the second largest aggregation of Protestants in the South, numbering in excess of 600,000 members . Prior to the Presidential election of 1860 many editors of Baptist weekly newspapers were concerned that the victory of a sectional party might disrupt the government. However, these men did not instruct their readers how to vote. They cautioned them to avoid the spirit of fanaticism, keep calm and moderate, ignore party, and vote for Christian men.1 Following the election of Abraham Lincoln, but before the secession of South Carolina, some Baptist newspapers, associational gatherings, and prominent clergymen publicly espoused secession. The first official secessionist statement by an ecclesiastical assembly in the South was issued by the Alabama Baptist State Convention, which met November 9-13, 1860. This resolution, which was proposed by Dr. Basil Manly,2 stated in part: At a moment when grave and serious issues face the country ... we have the profound conviction that the Union of the states has failed . . . we can no longer hope for justice, protection or safety from the Federal Union. . . . We hold ourselves subject to the call of proper authority in defense of the sovereignty and independence of the State of Alabama and of her right, as A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, Dr. Daniel is assistant professor of history at the University of Richmond. Acknowledgment for assistance in the preparation of this article is made to the Richmond Area University Center and The Southern Fellowship Fund. 1 For example, see Religious Herald, Richmond, Aug. 9, 1860; Southern Baptist, Charleston, Aug. 4, 1860; South Western Baptist, Tuskegee, Nov. 1, 1860. 2 A leader of Southern Baptists, and past president of the University of Alabama, Manly was known throughout the South. When the Confederacy was formed in Montgomery, Manly wrote his son: "I thank God . . . that I have lived, after thirty years of waiting, to see this result." Basil Manly Papers, University of Alabama Library. See also W. Stanley Hoole, ed., "The Diary of Dr. Basil Manly, 18581867 ," The Ahbama Review, TV ( 1951 ), 127. Hereafter cited as Hoole, "Manly." 389 390W. HARRISON DANIEL a sovereignty to withdraw from the Union; and to make arrangements for securing her rights.3 A few days later the Savannah River Baptist Association in South Carolina passed a resolution which declared that the election of Lincoln had "made us a distinct and separate people" and affirmed that "it is the duty of Christian gentlemen and patriots to sustain our beloved state at all hazards in the maintenance of her sovereignty and in the protection of her constitutional rights and liberty."4 The Charleston Baptist Association, which met two weeks after the election, proclaimed a position similar to that of their Savannah River brethren.5 In the third week of December, 1860, the Florida Baptist State Convention met at Monticello. This body adopted a resolution which expressed sympathy with those who were determined to maintain the integrity of the Southem states even if it meant the disruption of all existing political ties.6 Although there were some Baptist associations which advocated secession prior to the political separation of their state from the Union, the majority of them remained silent until after secession had occurred. Baptist newspapers in Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas expressed prosecession sympathies prior to their sister weeklies in Virginia and North Carolina. Except for the Baptist paper in Georgia, they all "took their stand" before their state seceded. However , there was a diversity of opinion among Baptists as to how secession should proceed. Rev. J. R. Graves, editor of the Tennessee Baptist, suggested that the entire South secede as a unit, and that the legislative bodies of the Southern states appoint delegates to a Southern convention . This convention should adopt a plan of united action. It should present the Federal government three demands: ( 1) that the Fugitive Slave Law be faithfully executed; (2) that property in the territories be protected; and (3) that an amendment be added to the Constitution guaranteeing slavery in the states where it now existed. If these demands were not favorably received, then the Southern states should leave the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 389-401
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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