Baptists and the American Civil War: May 20, 1863

Civil War States MapThe annual convention of the American Baptist Missionary Union, hosted by the First Baptist Church of Cleveland, Ohio, is in its second day.

Most of the day is spent listening to reports from foreign American Baptist missionary fields. While the war at home overshadows missionary efforts far away, the Union maintains a strong and vibrant presence on many foreign fields.

In addition to missionary reports, the “committee on the state of the country” offers a resolution concerning the “slaveholders rebellion”:

Whereas, The officers and members of the American Baptist Missionary Union, at their last annual meeting in May, 1862, unanimously adopted a series of resolutions, characterizing “the war now waged by the national government to put down the unprovoked and wicked rebellion that has risen against it, and to establish anew the reign of order and of law, as a most righteous and holy one, sanctioned alike by God and all right thinking men,” and also expressive of their conviction that “the principal cause and origin of this attempt to destroy the government has been the institution of slavery, and that a safe, solid, and lasting peace cannot be expected short of its complete overthrow,”

Therefore, Resolved, First, That the developments of the year that has since elapsed, in connection with this attempt to destroy the best government on earth, have tended only to deepen our conviction of the truth of the sentiments which we then expressed, and which we now and here solemnly reiterate and re-affirm.

Resolved, Secondly—That the authors, aiders and abettors of this slaveholders’ rebellion, in their desperate efforts to nationalize the institution of slavery, and to extend its despotic sway throughout the land, have themselves inflicted on that institution a series of most terrible, and fatal, and suicidal blows, from which, we believe, it can never recover; and they have themselves thus fixed its destiny and hastened its doom; and that, for thus overruling what appeared at first to be a terrible national calamity to the production of results so unexpected and glorious, our gratitude and adoration are due to that wonder-working God, who still “maketh the wrath of man to praise Him, while the remainder of that wrath He restrains.” Psalm 76: 10.

Resolved, Thirdly, That in the recent acts of Congress, abolishing slavery forever in the District of Columbia and the Territories, and in the noble Proclamation of the President of the United States, declaring freedom to the slave in States in rebellion, we see cause for congratulation and joy; and we think we behold the dawn of that glorious day, when, as in Israel’s ancient jubilee, “liberty shall be proclaimed throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Lev. 25: 10.

Resolved, Fourthly, That, as American Christians, we rejoice in the growing sympathy of the enlightened portion of our Christian brethren in Great Britain and other European nations, with the government and people of the United States in this righteous war; and that while we cordially thank our friends across the water for all expressions of their confidence and approval, we embrace this opportunity of assuring them that in our judgment, the United States possesses within herself the means, the men, and the courage necessary for the suppression of this rebellion; and that while we ask no assistance from other nations, we will brook no intervention or interference with our national affairs while engaged in this arduous struggle, which we believe wjll soon be completely successful in utterly suppressing and subduing this rebellion.

Resolved, Fifthly, That we hereby pledge ourselves, as ministers and as Christians and patriots, to sustain the President of the United States and his associates in the administration, by our prayers, our influence, and our personal sacrifices, till this rebellion shall be subdued, and peace, upon the basis of justice, freedom and union, shall be again restored.

Freedom is the cause of Christ and nation as these American Baptists once again voice Christian patriotic and nationalistic sentiments.

Source: Baptist Missionary Magazine, American Baptist Missionary Society, Boston: Missionary Rooms, 1863, Vol. 43, No. 7, pp. 205-219 (link)