Baptists and the American Civil War: January 11, 1865

Civil War States MapIn Washington, D.C., the debate over the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery continues. Most congressmen are of the opinion that peace is not possible without the eradication of slavery, although some Northern congressmen are as firmly convinced of the godliness of black slavery as are Southern whites.

White supremacy, in short, is not confined to the South.

Nonetheless, the state of Missouri, through a constitutional convention today, immediately emancipates all remaining enslaved persons in the state. African Americans in Missouri are thus free, although equality will have to wait.

Meanwhile, today’s South Carolina Confederate Baptist urges readers to set aside depression and put their faith in the principle and the rightness of the Southern cause.

A false theory, underlies, to some extent, the depression induced by our recent military failures. At the beginning of the struggle, every favorable circumstance–even the state of the weather–was hailed as the expression of Heaven in our favor; and many ventured to interpret the mind of the Almighty, from these contingent events. Now that success, and what they deem the tokens of divine favor, have shifted to the other side, their faith fails them.

The only confidence worth any thing is that which rests upon principle. The clouds and the winds were never designed to teach man his duty; and only they, who looked upon the tempest which shattered the fleet of the foe, as a sign of Heaven’s displeasure, will regard Sherman’s march through Georgia, under the mellow light of our Indian summer, as a token of His favor. The fall of Savannah settles no moral principle. The triumphant advance of a vast disciplined army, leaves the question of constitutional right untouched. Even the final success of the enemy would prove nothing against our cause.

If we believe that the war, in which we are engaged, is just, we must look upon disaster and suffering as the appointment of Providence, and bear them with becoming spirit. It is a poor thing to surrender principle, at the approach of danger, or under the pressure of calamity. Ten bitter persecutions failed to shake the faith of God’s people, in the divinity and power of Christianity. “True blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church.”

… The apprehension of a raid extinguishes [the hopes of many], crushes their courage, and they cry out, in dismay, that the country is lost. But the army, and the better class, at home, are prepared to make any sacrifices, which may be required for the achievement of independence. If we believe our cause to be right, let us breast manfully the present tide of disaster, and from danger pluck security. Above all, let us receive, with submission and reverence, the rebuke of the Lord’s chastisement, and endeavor to become an humbler and holier people.

The author, in contending that final defeat by the Union “would prove nothing against our cause,” prepares his readers, as have other some other writers in the past two years, to view ultimate victory as above and beyond the battlefields. Thus as the Confederacy sinks, the Lost Cause mythology, previously rooted, sprouts forth defiantly.

Source: “Slaves and Emancipation,” The Civil War in Missouri (link); “Present Depression,” Confederate Baptist, January 11, 1865