Baptists and the American Civil War: August 5, 1861

Mary Beckley Bristow

Mary Beckly Bristow

Kentucky, an officially neutral state to this point, moves toward the Union as newly-elected legislators take office today. The elected officials strong Union sympathies match the sentiments of a majority of Kentuckians.

Not all the state’s residents, however, are pleased with the new legislature. Mary Beckley Bristow, a member of the Sardis Baptist Church in Union, reflects upon developments in her state and related family happenings:

Went down to spend the day with Brother & Sister Shannon. Found Sister Stansifer very unhappy at the idea of her sons going South to fight for their rights and firm principles, as our State, Ky., has again gone from a dead and buried Union with our bitter enemies. I think if I had sons I could with pleasure arm and send them off for the fight, but I recollect I have never been tried, and therefore it is impossible for me to tell how or what I should do. The result of the election last Monday made my heart very sad. Often have I internally asked the question, “What, will Ky. go with the North against her own interest in every sense of the word?” The idea would render me very unhappy. . . .

Also today, U. S. President Abraham Lincoln signs the Revenue Act, America’s first income tax. Specifically levied to support the war effort, the Act places a three percent tax on persons with income over $800. The Act defines income as, “derived from any kind of property, or from any professional trade, employment, or vocation carried on in the United States or elsewhere or from any source whatever.” Money raised from the act enables the North to win the war. The law is repealed in 1871. In 1913, ratification of the 16th amendment establishes a permanent federal income tax.

Sources: Bristow (link); 1861 Revenue Act (link)