Baptists and the American Civil War: January 7, 1861

Alabama’s secession convention begins in Montgomery. Among the delegates is James DeVotie. One of the most respected preachers in the state, DeVotie had pastored (in succession) Montgomery First Baptist, Tuscaloosa First Baptist, and Siloam Baptist in Marion. While pastoring Siloam, DeVotie helped establish Howard College (now Samford University) and held a variety of elected positions in state and national Southern Baptist life. He also served as editor of the Alabama Baptist, and is a lifelong advocate of public education in Alabama.

DeVotie had been among the 293 voting delegates at the founding meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Augusta, Georgia, in 1845. He was one of fourteen Alabama Baptists who attended the Augusta gathering.

A secessionist, DeVotie votes for disunion and remains a loyal Confederate throughout the war. Serving as a chaplain in the Confederate Army, he refuses to accept payment for his services, on the principle of separation of church and state.

For more information on James DeVotie, see Wayne Flynt, Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the Heart of Dixie (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998). Photo: Alabama’s Secession Banner, “Touch Me Not” written in Latin (link)