Baptists and the American Civil War: June 20, 1862

Abraham LincolnU.S. President Abraham Lincoln, influenced in his youth by the anti-slavery Primitive Baptist church of his upbringing, is moving ever closer to officially making emancipation a goal of the war against the Southern Confederacy.

Today Lincoln meets with a delegation of Progressive Friends (a Quaker organization working with other anti-slavery advocates), who urge him to move forward on emancipation. Lincoln’s response, in part, is recorded thus:

The President … said that he felt the magnitude of the task before him, and hoped to be rightly directed in the very trying circumstances by which he was surrounded.

Wm. Barnard addressed the President in a few words, expressing sympathy for him in all his embarrassments, and an earnest desire that he might, under divine guidance, be led to free the slaves and thus save the nation from destruction. In that case, nations yet unborn would rise up to call him blessed and, better still, he would secure the blessing of God.

The President responded very impressively, saying that he was deeply sensible of his need of Divine assistance. He had sometime thought that perhaps he might be an instrument in God’s hands of accomplishing a great work and he certainly was not unwilling to be. Perhaps, however, God’s way of accomplishing the end which the memorialists have in view may be different from theirs. It would be his earnest endeavor, with a firm reliance upon the Divine arm, and seeking light from above, to do his duty in the place to which he had been called.

Source: “Remarks to a Delegation of Progressive Friends,” Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, The Abraham Lincoln Association (link)