Baptists and the American Civil War: June 21, 1865

Civil War States MapToday U.S. President Andrew Johnson appoints Lewis Parsons (1817-1895), New York native and Alabama lawyer, as provisional governor of Alabama. In the months following Parsons oversees the repeal of the state’s Ordinance of Secession and the abolishment of slavery. He serves as provisional governor until December, eventually returning to law practice.

Meanwhile in Caroline, Virginia, former slaves who were members, not of their own volition, of the white-led Liberty Baptist Church leave and from their own congregation. So numerous had blacks been in the area that they had outnumbered white members of the Liberty congregation. Now, free in body and soul, they form the Bethlehem Baptist Church, an autonomous African American congregation.

The Bethlehem church is one of many autonomous black Baptist churches formed this month in the South.

Sources: “Reconstruction: Appointment of Lewis E. Parsons as Provisional Governor of Alabama,” New York Times, June 22, 1865 (link); “Lewis Eliphalet Parsons,” Alabama Department of Archives and History (link); Roger Braxton, African Americans of Spotsylvania County, Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2008, p. 13 (link)