Baptists and the American Civil War: January 12, 1862

Richard FullerNew York Senator Ira Harris, an active Baptist and close friend of U.S. President (and former Baptist) Abraham Lincoln, today sends a note to Lincoln requesting that the president grant an audience, this day, with Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Fuller.

Harris’ note is as follows:

This note will introduce you to the Rev. Dr. Fuller, an eminent clergyman of Baltimore — my personal friend. He will present to you a matter of business in which he is deeply interested… I think he will be able readily to satisfy your strong claims to the justice of the government. Permit me to commend him to your kind attention.

Fuller, in reality, had already met Lincoln the previous spring, as part of a delegation of Baltimore residents concerned about the possibility of a Union troop buildup in Maryland. At that time, Fuller, president of the SBC, advised Lincoln to allow the South to secede peacefully, a suggestion that Lincoln dismissed as impractical.

Perhaps Harris does not know that Lincoln has already met Fuller. Regardless, the content of the conversation that takes place between Fuller and Lincoln is uncertain. That Harris, a prominent northern Baptist, is friend to Fuller may suggest that the former hoped that his southern friend had moderated his previously antagonistic views toward the president.

Source: Letter from Ira Harris to Abraham Lincoln, January 12, 1862 (link)