Baptists and the American Civil War: July 12, 1865

Samuel Augustus Hayden

Samuel Augustus Hayden

This month Samuel Augustus Hayden (1839-1918), Louisiana native and Baptist minister, is released from Johnson’s Island Prison in Ohio.

The war interrupted Johnson’s ministerial training as he enlisted in Company B, Sixteenth Regiment, Louisiana Infantry. Fighting in Shiloh (April 1862) and other western theater battles, Johnson rose to the rank of captain prior to being captured at Nashville in December 1864, where he remained until his release by Union officials.

Returning to the ministry in Louisiana, Johnson is called to pastor the First Baptist Church of Clinton in 1868. For the next fifteen years he pastors various churches, first in Louisiana, then in Texas.

Awarded an honorary doctorate by Baylor University in 1881, he afterwards purchases and becomes the editor of the Texas Baptist newspaper in 1883, wherein he advocates, successfully, for the consolidation of Texas Baptist work. In 1886 the newspaper becomes the Texas Baptist and Herald, as Hayden becomes influential among the state’s Southern Baptists.

Schisms, however, descend upon Texas Baptist life. Finding himself in prolonged disagreements with other Texas Baptist leaders in the 1890s, Hayden leaves the Baptist General Convention of Texas (Southern Baptist) and aligns with the Baptist Missionary Association (Landmark) in 1902. Yet later he seeks reconciliation of Baptists in Texas. Although harmony among Texas Baptists does not come to pass, before his death Hayden personally puts behind him the bitter controversies which had consumed some two decades of his life.

Sources: “Hayden, Samuel Augustus,” Texas State Historical Association (link); “Samuel Augustus Hayden” (link); Joseph Everett Early, A Texas Baptist Power Struggle: The Hayden Controversy, Denton, Tex.: University of North Texas Press, 2005 (link)