Baptists and the American Civil War: January 31, 1865

13th_amendmentToday the 13th Amendment passes in the House of Representative, thus clearing the United States Congress. The amendment abolishes slavery, declaring “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Now, the amendment will go to the states for ratification.

Among those who vote for the 13th Amendment this day is Kentucky congressman Green Clay Smith. A Baptist layman, Smith risks the wrath of many of his fellow Kentuckians by voting to abolish slavery.

Sherman’s forces, meanwhile, arrive at Lawtonville, South Carolina. As will be the case with many other communities to come, the Federals burn much of the town.

Among the buildings not destroyed is the Pike Creek Baptist Church meeting house. Founded in 1775, the Pike Creek church was an outgrowth of the South’s oldest Baptist Church, the First Baptist Church of Charleston. Sherman spares the church building, utilizing it as a hospital.

Many other Baptist churches in South Carolina will not be so fortunate.

Sources: 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery, including image (link); Barry Craig, “How Four Kentucky Congressmen Helped End Slavery” Louisville Courier-Journal, January 29, 2015 (link); Lawtonville fighting (link); Michael M. DeWitt Jr., Hampton County Guardian, April 7, 2011 (link); “Lawtonville Baptist Church Celebrates Another Centennial” (link)