Baptists and the American Civil War: August 16, 1861

Cotton, the Engine of the Southern Economy

Cotton, the Engine of the Southern Economy

Today U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declares the 11 states of the Confederacy and southerners “in a state of insurrection against the United States.” Lincoln also deems all commercial trade to states outside the Confederacy as “unlawful” as long as the insurrection continues. Thus, the thriving cotton trade between the South and Border states is severely crippled.

Although at the moment southern cotton continues to be exported to England, the new law, coupled with the tightening Union blockade of southern ports, strikes at the heart of the Confederate economy. Apart from the ability to export large quantities cotton, the South has no viable prospect of generating significant sums of cash from trade.

Meanwhile, in a dark day for the free press, the U.S. government begins taking to court some allegedly pro-Confederate newspapers. The Brooklyn Eagle, New York Journal of Commerce, and New York Daily News are all forced to defend themselves in court.

As the basis of the southern economy is suddenly placed in great jeopardy and some northern newsmen tremble, Baptist churches in the South carry on their ministries. Today in LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, Mount Nebo Baptist Church ordains one William Reason to preach, while revival season is underway throughout the South. Revival attendees are largely women and children this year, as many Baptist men are off fighting for the Confederacy. During revival season, church rolls swell as individuals are brought under conviction of sin. This year, the horrors and uncertainty of war create additional anxiety in the minds of many, in some cases compelling sinners to come to Jesus.

Sources: President Lincoln’s Proclamation on Commerce in the States of Insurrection (link); Cotton trade with England (link); Mount Nebo Baptist Church (link); northern newspaper court trials (link)