Baptists and the American Civil War: October 11, 1864

californiaToday in the United States elections are held for several governorships as well as the U.S. House and one-third of the Senate. Southern politicians in Richmond hope that peace candidates will make gains, but their hopes are to no avail as Republicans increase their strength in statehouses and in Washington.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln‘s chances of re-election next month are thus increased, as is the likelihood that the United States will pursue the war against the Southern Rebellion until the Confederacy is defeated.

On the West coast, California Baptists are solidly supportive of Lincoln and his prosecution of the war. Meeting this week for their annual convention in Santa Clara, California Baptist delegates, as reported by the local newspaper today, hear a report from the Freedmen’s Bureau and unanimously pass a resolution on “The State of the Country.”

Whereas, The Christian religion teaches its possessors to cherish a peculiar attachment to the country of their birth, or adoption, especially if its civil and social institutions are favorable to the security of life, the enjoyment of liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, whereas, the Southern Confederacy, so called, is wickedly striving to break in pieces and destroy the Government under which we and our fathers have enjoyed all these blessings; therefore

‘Resolved, That as Christians and as Baptists, we desire to bear witness to the value of the Government under which we live, and to declare that we are, and always have been, loyal citizens; and that at a time like this, neutrality is no less a crime than rebellion.

Resolved, That the guilt of all the bloodshed, the treasure wasted, and wretchedness indicted in the course of the war, must rest on the heads of those who inaugurated it.

Resolved, That by God’s blessing on the counsels of our rulers, and the movements of our armies, there are cheering indications of a speedy close of the war.

Resolved, That even if our hopes of early peace be disappointed, yet, because we believe in God, we shall still look for the conflict to terminate, when it does end, in the vindication of the authority of the Government, the abolition of human slavery, and the establishment of all the interests of this nation, on a basis of durable prosperity and true glory.

Resolved, That the many and great educational influences of this war furnish a most noticeable, if not answerable, compensation for all the ruin it has wrought, and that, therefore, God has not visited us by it in judgment, but in very faithfulness, has afflicted us.

Resolved, That as the war opened new and wide fields of Christian philanthropy, it is our duty to mark the Providence and follow it; and that among the benevolent enterprises already in successful working, the Sanitary and Christian Commissions and the Feedman’s Association, deserve and should receive our cordial and generous support.

Sources: “Baptists in Session at Santa Clara,” Daily Alta California, Volume 16, Number 5336, 12 October 1864 (link); “United States House of Representative Elections 1864” (link);  Freewill Baptist Quarterly, Volume 12, October 1864, p. 419 (link); Jack Birdwhistell, “Excerpts from the Diary of B. F. Hungerford, A Kentucky Baptist Pastor During the Civil War,” Baptist History and Heritage, April 1979, Vol. 14 No. 2