Baptists and the American Civil War: July 5, 1865

secret_service_1865Currency proved critical in the outcome of the war. The North was able to leverage its superior financial resources, including taking on massive quantities of debt. The South, on the other hand, never gained solid financial footing, hampered by an unbalanced economy dependent primarily on one raw product — cotton — whose value crashed due to a Union blockade. Although the Confederate States government printed currency, the paper became essentially worthless during the second half of the war, partially immobilized by rampant counterfeiting.

Today, in part due to the financial picture brought about by the war and its aftermath, the United States government establishes the Secret Service Division to suppress the growing problem of counterfeit currency in the restored Union.

Meanwhile, Baptist soldiers and officers of the South continue receiving paroles. Today James Polk Ayres (1838-1884), Texas Baptist layman and lawyer, receives his parole. Ayres (the family name later spelled Ayers) served in the 2nd Texas Cavalry and obtained a rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Following the war, Ayres is elected for two terms to the Texas House of Representatives.

Sources: “Secret Service History,” United States Secret Service (link); “James Polk Ayers,” FindAGrave (link); image, Public Broadcasting Corporation (link)