Baptists and the American Civil War: April 29, 1861

As the month draws to a close, Georgia Baptists meet in Athens for their annual convention. Gathered corporately, delegates issue a statement “on the present political crisis” that declares:

“Whereas, the state of Georgia, in the legitimate exercise of her sovereignty, has withdrawn from the Confederacy known as the United States of America; and, for the better maintenance of her rights, honor and independence, has united with other States in a new Confederacy, under the name of the Confederate States of America; and whereas, Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, is attempting by force of arms, to subjugate these States in violation of the fundamental principles of American liberty; therefore,

1) Resolved, By the members of the Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia, that we consider it to be at once a pleasure and a duty to avow that, both in feeling and in principle, we approve, endorse and support the Government of the Confederate States of America.

2) Resolved, That while this Convention disclaims all authority, whether ecclesiastical or civil, yet as citizens, we deem it but a duty to urge the union of all people of the South in defence of a common cause; and to express the confident belief that, in whatever conflict the madness of Mr. Lincoln and his government may force upon us, the Baptists of Georgia will not be behind any class of our fellow citizens in maintaining the independence of the South by any sacrifice of treasure or of blood.

3) Resolved, That we acknowledge with devout thankfulness to Almighty God, the signal favor with which, up to this time, He has blessed our arms and our policy; and that the Baptist Churches of this State, be requested to observe the first and second days of June next, as days of fasting and prayer, that God will deliver us from all the power of our enemies and restore peace to our country.

4) Resolved, That the Confederate Government be requested to invite the churches of all denominations within the Confederacy, to unite in observing days of fasting and prayer.

According to convention minutes, “The whole assembly rose to their feet, in testimony of their unanimous approval” of the statement.

Source: “Minutes of the Thirty-Ninth Anniversary of the Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia,” 1861 (April 26, 27, 29).