Baptists and the American Civil War: October 11, 1865

Civil War States MapSome Baptist churches North and South during the war hosted political meetings, discourses or politicized sermons. In the North, calls for freedom for all were typically voiced, while such meetings in white Baptist churches of the South insisted upon the maintenance of freedom for whites only.

One church that hosted political meetings in the North was the First Freewill Baptist Union Society of Canandaigua, a church founded in 1840.

Today the church holds its annual business meeting, during which the war-era political meetings are recalled and a decision is made to forbid such gatherings in the future.

The annual meeting of the First Free Will Baptist Union in Canandaigua was held at the meeting house in Cheshire October 11, 1865. The house was duly called to order; when Levie Haskel was elected chairman for the evening. The meeting then made choice of C. B. Ward as their clerk for the ensuing year. The meeting was not called at its annual or at any special meeting in 1864; it became necessary to elect two trustees at this meeting. Luvel Hutchins was then chosen for five years. Levi Haskell to fill a vacancy for four years. On motion of A. A. Brown it was resolved to rescind the motion of 1863 at the Annual Meeting, to exclude political meetings from the meeting house. It was then moved and voted that the moneys in the hands of A. A. Brown which were raised for a celebration proposed but were not used should be applied to repairs on the meeting house.

The Free Will congregation is one of many Baptist churches hoping to return to a more normal existence in the wake of the Civil War.

Source: “Record Book of the First Freewill Baptist Union Society of Canandaigua,” Transcribed by Kevin Andrew Cotter (link)