Baptists and the American Civil War: January 9, 1864

Civil War States MapThis week’s Georgia Baptist Christian Index reprints an extract from a sermon preached on August 21, 1863, a Confederate fast day, by Sylvanus Landrum, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Savannah. The sermon reiterates the right of the Southern states to secede and their righteousness in so doing in order to preserve the “security, prosperity and happiness of the people.” Of course, “people” does not apply to African slaves, who have no rights; their lot is to toil in poverty in order that the white race might prosper and be happy.

And yet, this new year has dawned with no security, prosperity or happiness in sight for most white southerners.

Home front troubles are evident foremost in the poverty in which many are now living. Inflation is wildly out of control: whereas in January 1862 $100 worth of gold was equal to $120 in Confederate currency, now $1800 in Confederate currency is equal to $100 worth of gold. At the same time, soldiers’ salaries have remained the same as at the beginning of the war.

With the entire South thus spiraling rapidly into a full-scale economic disaster, the Confederate government this month prints yet more money, inflating currency all the more. Enterprising Northerners join in the mayhem by printing counterfeit Confederate notes, making matters all the worse for the floundering Southern economy.

And these are just the beginnings of much greater economic turmoil in the Confederacy.

Sources: Sylvanus Landrum, “The Battle is God’s,” Christian Index, January 8, 1864 (preached August 21, 1863); “Money, Money, Money: Soldier Pay in the American Civil War,” National Park Service (link); see also Mark Thornton and Robert Burton Ekelund, Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 2004 (link)