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H. B. (Henry Bidleman) Bascom.

The Methodist Church property case. Report of the suit of Henry Bascom, and others, vs. George Lane, and others, heard before the judges Nelson and Betts, in the Circuit Court, United States, for the Southern District of New York, May 17-20, 1851 online

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Online LibraryH. B. (Henry Bidleman) BascomThe Methodist Church property case. Report of the suit of Henry Bascom, and others, vs. George Lane, and others, heard before the judges Nelson and Betts, in the Circuit Court, United States, for the Southern District of New York, May 17-20, 1851 → online text (page 17 of 87)
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interest connected with the printing establishments at Charleston, Richmond, and
Nashville, which now belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church.

" ' 5. That when the annual conferences shall have approved the aforesaid change
in the sixth restrictive article, there shall be transferred to the above agent of the
Southern Church so much of the capital and produce of the Methodist Book Concern
as will, with the notes, book accounts, presses, &c., mentioned in the last resolution,
bear the same proportion to the whole property of said Concern that the travelling
preachers in the Southern Church shall bear to all the travelling ministers of the
Methodist Episcopal Church ; the division to be made on the basis of the number of
travelling preachers in the forthcoming minutes.

" ' 6. That the above transfer shall be in the form of annual payments of $25,000 per
annum, and specifically in stock of the Book Concern, and in Southern notes and ac-
counts due the establishment, and accruing after the first transfer mentioned above ;
and until the payments are made, the Southern Church shall share in all the net
profits of the Book Concern, in the proportion that the amount due them, or in arrears,
bears to all the property of the Concern.

" ' 7. That Nathan Bangs, George Peck, and James B. Finley be, and they are
hereby appointed commissioners to act in concert with the same number of commis-
sioners appointed by the Southern organization, (should one be formed,) to estimate
the amount which will fall due to the South by the preceding rule, and to have full
powers to carry into effect the whole arrangements proposed with regard to the divi-
sion of property, should the separation take place. And if by any means a vacancy
occurs in this board of commissioners, the Book Committee at New-York shall fill
said vacancy.

" ' 8. That whenever any agents of the Southern Church are clothed with legal
authority or corporate power to act in the premises, the agents at New- York are
hereby authorized and directed to act in concert with said Southern agents, so as to
give the provisions of these resolutions a legally binding force.

" ' 9. That all the property of the Methodist Episcopal Church in meeting-houses,
parsonages, colleges, schools, conference funds, cemeteries, and of every kind within
the limits of the Southern organization, shall be forever free from any claim set up
on the part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, so far as this resolution can be of
force in the premises.

" '10. That the Church so formed in the South shall have a common right to use
all the copy-rights in possession of the Book Concerns at New-York and Cincinnati,
at the time of the settlement by the commissioners.

" '11. That the book agents at New- York be directed to make such compensation
to the conferences South, for their dividend from the Chartered Fund, as the com-
missioners above provided for shall agree upon.

' ' That the bishops be respectfully requested to lay that part of this report requir-
ing the action of the annual conferences, before them as soon as possible, beginning with
the New-York Conference.' "

That is all we shall read from the Book of Proofs No. 1. What remains, belongs
to our friends on the other side, if they think it necessary to introduce it. I will



90

now proceed to read that part of the evidence which relates to the organization of
the Church under this Plan of Separation. I read from the Book of Proofs No. 2,
page 1:

" 1. History of proceedings of the Delegates from slaveholding States, at their meet-
ing in the City of New - York, on the day after the adjournment of the General
Conference of 1844.

" At that meeting, they adopted the following plan of action as proper to be recom-
mended to the conferences represented by them :

' With a view to promote uniformity of action in the premises, we beg leave to
submit to your consideration the expediency of concurring in the following plan of
procuring the judgment of the Church within the slaveholding States, as to the pro-
priety of organizing a Southern division of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the
United States, and of effecting such an organization should it be deemed necessary :

" ' 1. There shall be a convention held in Louisville, Kentucky, to commence the
1st of May, 1845, composed of delegates from the several annual conferences within
the slaveholding States, appointed in the ratio of one for every eleven members.

" ' 2. These delegates shall be appointed at the ensuing session of the several an-
nual conferences enumerated, each conference providing for the expenses of its
own delegates.

" ' 3. These several annual conferences shall instruct their delegates to the proposed
convention on the points on which action is contemplated conforming their instruc-
tions, as far as possible, to the opinions and wishes of the membership within their
several conference bounds.'

" They also sent abroad the following address :

" < ADDRESS

" ' To the Ministers and Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the
Slaveholding States and Territories.

" ' The undersigned, delegates in the late General Conference of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, from thirteen annual conferences in slaveholding States and Ter-
ritories, would most respectfully represent that the various action of the majority
of the General Conference, at its recent session, on the subject of slavery and aboli-
tion, has been such as to render it necessary, in the judgment of those addressing
you, to call attention to the proscription and disability under which the Southern
portion of the Church must of necessity labour in view of the action alluded to, un-
less some measures are adopted to free the minority of the South from the oppressive
jurisdiction of the majority in the North, in this respect.

" ' The proceedings of the majority, in several cases involving the question of
slavery, have been such as indicate most conclusively that the legislative, judicial,
and administrative action of the General Conference, as now organized, will always
be extremely hurtful, if not finally ruinous, to the interests of the Southern portion of
the Church ; and must necessarily produce a state of conviction and feeling in the
slaveholding States, entirely inconsistent with either the peace or prosperity of the
Church.

" ' The opinions and purposes of the Church in the North on the subject of slavery,
are in direct conflict with those of the South, and unless the South will submit to the
dictation and interference of the North, greatly beyond what the existing law of the
Church on slavery and abolition authorizes, there is no hope of anything like union
or harmony. The debate and action of the General Conference in the case of the
Rev. Mr. Harding, of the Baltimore Conference ; the debate and action in the case
of Bishop Andrew ; and the opinions and purposes avowed and indicated in a mani-
festo of the majority, in reply to a Protest from the minority against the proceedings
complained of, together with hundreds of petitions from the East, North, and West,
demanding that slavery, in all its possible forms, be separated from the Church ;
these, and similar demonstrations, have convinced the undersigned, that they cannot
remain silent or inactive without hazard and injustice to the different portions of the
Church they represent.

" ' They have, therefore, thought proper to invoke the attention of the Church in
the South to a state of things they are compelled to regard as worthy the immediate



91

notice and action of the Church throughout all the slaveholding states and territories.
The subject of slavery and abolition, notwithstanding the plain law of the Discipline
on the subject, was agitated and debated in the late General Conference, for five
successive weeks ; and even at the very close of the session, the aspect of things was
less satisfactory and more threatening to the South than at any former period ; and
under such circumstances of mutual distrust and disagreement, the General Confer-
ence adjourned.

" ' Some time before the adjournment, however, upon a Declaration made by the
Southern delegations, setting forth the impossibility of enduring such a state of
things much longer, the General Conference, by a very large and decided majority,
agreed to a plan of formal and pacific separation, by which the Southern conferences
are to have a distinct and independent organization of their own, in no way subject to
Northern jurisdiction. It affords us pleasure to state that there were those found
among the majority who met this proposition with every manifestation of justice and
liberality. And should a similar spirit be exhibited by the annual conferences in the
North, when submitted to them, as provided for in the Plan itself, there will remain
no legal impediment to its peaceful consummation.

" ' This Plan is approved by the undersigned as the best, and, indeed, all that can
be done at present, in remedy of the great evil under which we labour. Provision is
made for a peaceable and constitutional division of Church property of every kind.
The Plan does not decide that division shall take place ; but simply, and it is
thought securely, provides that it may, if it be found necessary. Of this necessity,
you are to be the judges, after a careful survey and comparison of all the reasons for
and against it.

" ' As the undersigned have had opportunity and advantages which those at a dis-
tance could not possess, to form a correct judgment in the premises, and it may be
expected of them that they express their views fully on the subject, they do not hesi-
tate to say, that they regard a separation at no distant day as inevitable ; and
further, that the Plan of Separation agreed upon is as eligible as the Southern con-
ferences have any right to expect at any time. We most respectfully, therefore, and
with no common solicitude, beseech our brethren of the ministry and membership in
the slaveholding States, to examine this matter carefully, and weighing it well in all
its bearings, try to reach the conclusion most proper under the circumstances. Shall
that which, in all moral likelihood, must take place soon, be attempted now, or are
there reasons why it should be postponed ?

; ' ' We deprecate all excitement ; we ask you to be calm and collected, and t
approach and dispose of the subject with all the candour and forbearance the occa-
sion demands. The separation proposed is not schism, it is nut secession. It is a
state or family, separating into two different states or families, by mutual consent.
As the " Methodist Episcopal Church " will be found north of the dividing line, so
the "Methodist Episcopal Church" will be found south of the same line.

" ' The undersigned have clung to the cherished unity of the Church with a firm-
ness of purpose and force of feeling which nothing but invincible necessity could
subdue. If, however, nominal unity must co-exist with unceasing strife and alien-
ated feeling, what is likely to be gained by its perpetuation T Every minister and
member of the Church in slave-holding States must perceive at once, that the con-
stant, not to say interminable, agitation of the slavery and abolition question in the
councils of the Church, and elsewhere, must terminate in incalculable injury to all
the Southern conferences. Our access to slave and master is to a great extent cut
off. The legislation of the Church in conflict with that of the State Church policy
attempting to control public opinion and social order must generate an amount of
hostility to the Church, impossible to be overcome, and slowly but certainly diminish
both the means and the hope of usefulness and extension on the part of the Church.

" ' Disposed, however, to defer to the judgment of the Church, we leave this sub-
ject with you. Our first and most direct object has been to bring it fully before you,
and, giving you an opportunity to judge and determine for yourselves, await your
decision. The minority from the South in the late General Conference, were most
anxious to adjourn the decision in the case of Bishop Andrew, with all its attendant
results, to the annual conferences and to the Church at large, to consider and decide
upon during the next four years as no charge was presented against the bishop, and
especially as this measure was urgently recommended by the whole bench of bishops,
although Bishop Hedding subsequently withdrew his name. The proposition, how



92

ever, to refer the whole subject to the Church, was promptly rejected by the ma-
jority, and immediate action demanded and had. But as all the facts connected with
the equivocal suspension of Bishop Andrew, will come before you in other forms, it
is unnecessary to detail them in this brief address, the main object of which is to
place before you, in a summary way, the principal facts and reasons connected with
the proposed separation of the Southern conferences into a distinct organization.'

' Adopted at a meeting of the Southern delegations, held in New-York, at the
close of the General Conference, June 11, 1844, and ordered to be published.

Signed on behalf of the Kentucky, Missouri, Holston, Tennessee, North Carolina,
Memphis, Arkansas, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and South
Carolina Annual Conferences.

tucki/, H. B. Bascom, William Gunn, H. H. Kavanaugh, E. Stevenson,
B. T. Crouch, G. W. Brush. Missouri, W. W. Redman, W. Patton, J. C. Berry-
man, J. M. Jameson. Holston, E. F. Sevier, S. Patton, T. Stringfield. Tennessee,
R. Paine, J. B. M'Ferrin, A. L. P. Green, T. Maddin. North Carolina, B. T. Blake,
J. Jamjeson, P. Doub. Memphis, G. W. D. Harris, S. S. Moody, W. M'Mahon,
Thomas Joyner. Arkansas, J. C. Parker, W. P. Ratcliffe, A. Hunter. Virginia,
J. Early, T. Crowder, W. A. Smith, L. M. Lee. Mississippi, W. Winans, B. M.
Drake, J. Lane, G. M. Rogers. Texas, Littleton Fowler. Alabama, J. Boring,
J. Hamilton, W. Murrah, G. Garrett. Georgia, G. F. Pierce, W. J. Parks, L.
Pierce, J. W. Glenn, J. E. Evans, A. B. Longstreet. South Carolina, W. Capers,
W. M. Wightman, C. Belts, S. Dunwody, H. A. C. Walker."

If your Honours please, I propose now to show the action of the several Southern
conferences upon the subject. I begin to read on page 7.

" The Kentucky Conference was the first in the Southern division of the Church
to meet after the adjournment of the General Conference. It convened on the llth
of September, 1844, and adopted the following resolutions, with but one dissenting
vote :

" ' Report of the Committee on Division.

" ' The committee to whom was referred the subject of the division of the Church
into two separate General Conference jurisdictions, and kindred subjects, have had
the same under serious consideration, and beg leave to report :

" ' That, enlightened as the conference is presumed to be, on the merits of the very
important subject upon which your committee have been called to act, it was not
deemed expedient to delay this report by an elaborate and argumentative investiga-
tion of the matters committed to them, in their various relations, principles, and
bearings ; they, therefore, present the result of their deliberations to the conference
by offering for adoption the following resolutions :

" ' 1. Resolved, That it is the deliberate judgment of this conference, that the
action of the late General Conference, virtually deposing Bishop Andrew, and also
their action in confirming the decision of the Baltimore Conference, in the case of
the Rev. F. A. Harding, are not sustained by the Discipline of our Church, and that
we consider those proceedings as constituting a highly dangerous precedent.

" ' 2. Resolved, That we deeply regret the prospect of division growing out of these
proceedings, and that we do most sincerely hope and pray that some effectual means,
not inconsistent with the interests and honour of all concerned, may be suggested and
devised, by which so great a calamity maybe averted, and to this end we recommend
that our societies be freely consulted on the subject.

" ' 3. Resolved, That we approve the holding of a convention of delegates from the
conferences in the slaveholding States, in the city of Louisville, on the first day of
May next, agreeably to the recommendation of the Southern and South-western dele-
gates in the late General Conference ; and that the ratio of representation proposed
by said delegates to wit, one delegate for every eleven members of conference be
and the same is hereby adopted ; and that this conference will elect delegates to the
proposed convention upon said basis.

" '4. Resolved, That should a division be found to be indispensable, the delegates
of this conference are hereby required to act under the following instructions, to wit :
that the Southern and South-western conferences shall not be regarded as a seces-
sion from the Methodist Episcopal Church, but that they shall be recognised in law,
and to all intents and purposes, as a co-ordinate branch of the Methodist Episcopal



93

Church in the United States of America, simply acting under a separate jurisdiction.
And further, that being well satisfied with the Discipline of the Church as it is, this
conference instruct its delegates not to support or favour any change in said Disci-
pline by said convention.

" ' 5. Resolved, That unless we can be assured that the rights of our ministry and
membership can be effectually secured according to Discipline, against future aggres-
sions, and reparation be made for past injury, we shall deem the contemplated divi-
sion unavoidable.

" ' 6. Resolved, That we approve the course of our delegates in the late General
Conference in the premises, and that we tender them our thanks for their faithful and
independent discharge of duty in a trying crisis.

" ' 7. Resolved, That the secretary of this conference be directed to have these
resolutions published in such of our Church papers as may be willing to insert them.

" ' All of which is respectfully submitted. M. M. HENKLE, Chairman.''

" Further Action in Reference to the Contemplated Convention,

" ' Resolved, by the Kentucky Annual Conference, That should the proposed con-
vention, representing the annual conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in
the slaveholding States, appointed to assemble in the city of Louisville, the first of
May, 1845, proceed to a separate organization, as contingently provided for in the
resolutions of this body on yesterday, then and in that event, the convention shall be
regarded as the regular General Conference, authorized and appointed by the several an-
nual conferences of the Southern division of the Church, and as possessing all the rights,
powers, and privileges of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church
in the United States, and subject to the same restrictions, limitations, and restraints.

" ' Resolved, That in order to secure the constitutional character and action of the
convention as a General Conference proper, should a separate organization take
place, the ratio of representation as now found in the 2d restrictive rule, one for
every twenty-one, shall prevail and determine the number of constitutional delegates,
taking and accrediting as such the proper number from each annual conference first
elected in order, and that the supernumerary delegates be regarded as members of
the convention to deliberate, etc., but not members of the General Conference proper,
should the convention proceed to a separate organization in the South Provided,
nevertheless, that should any delegate or delegates, who would not be excluded from
the General Conference proper, by the operation of the above regulation, be absent,
then any delegate or delegates present, not admitted by said regulation as member
or members of the constitutional General Conference, may lawfully take the seat or
seats of such absent delegates, upon the principle of the selection named above.

" ' Resolved, by the Kentucky Annual Conference, That we respectfully invite the
bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who may feel themselves disposed to do
so, to be in attendance at the contemplated convention, to be held in the city of
Louisville, Ky., in May, 1845.

" ' Resolved, by the Kentucky Annual Conference, That we appoint the Friday im-
mediately preceding the day fixed for the meeting of the proposed General Conven-
tion of the delegates of the conferences, as a day of fasting and prayer for the
blessing of Almighty God on the said convention.'

" The Missouri Conference adopted the following report and resolutions, from the
Committee on Division :

" Report of the Committee on Division.

" ' The committee to whom was referred the subject of a division of the Church
into two separate General Conference jurisdictions, together with the causes and
circumstances connected with the same, have bestowed upon it, in the most prayerful
and religious manner, all the time and attention they could command for the purpose,
and beg leave to present the following as their report :

" ' That inasmuch as the conference is presumed to be well informed on the merits
of the very important subject upon which the committee has been called to act, it
was not deemed necessary to delay this report by an extended and argumentative
investigation of the matters committed to them, in their various relations, principles,
and bearings ; they would, therefore, present the result of their deliberations to the
conference by offering for adoption the following resolutions :

" * Resolved, That we have looked for many years, with painful apprehension and



94

disapproval, upon the notation of the slavery and abolition subject in our General
< Conference, and now behold with sorrow and regret, the disastrous results which it
has brought about.

Resetted, That while we accord to the great majority of our Northern brethren
the utmost purity of intention, and while we would carefully refrain from all harsh
Denunciations, we are compelled to pronounce the proceedings of the late General
( 'onfercncr against Bishop Andrew, extra-judicial and oppressive.

: '.<>lrrd, That we deeply regret the prospect of separation growing out of
these proceedings, and that we do most sincerely hope and pray that some effectual
means not inconsistent with the interests and honour of all concerned, may be sug-
gested and devised, by which so great a calamity may be averted ; and to this end
we recommend that our societies be freely consulted on this subject.

" ' Resolved, That we approve the holding of a convention of delegates from the
conferences in the slaveholding States, in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, on the
1 st day of May next, agreeably to the recommendation of the delegates from the
Southern and South-western conferences, in the late General Conference ; and that
the ratio of representation proposed by said delegates to wit, one delegate for even'
eleven members of the conference be, and the same is hereby adopted ; and that
this conference will elect delegates to the proposed convention upon said basis.

" ' Resolved, That our delegates act under the following instructions, to wit :
to oppose the division of the Church, unless such division, under all the circum-
stances of the case, be found to be indispensable, (and consequently unavoidable ;)
and should such necessity be found to exist, and the division be determined on,
then, and in that event, that the Southern and South-western conferences shall not
be regarded as a secession from the Methodist Episcopal Church, but that they shall
be recognised in law, and to all intents and purposes, as a co-ordinate branch of the
Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America, simply acting under
a separate jurisdiction. And further, that being well satisfied with the Discipline of
the Church as it is. this conference instruct its delegates not to support or favour
any change in said Discipline by said convention.

" ' Resolved, That unless we can be assured that the rights of our ministry and
membership can be effectually secured according to the Discipline, against future
aggressions, we shall deem the contemplated division as unavoidable.

" ' Resolved, That should the proposed convention, representing the annual con-
ferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the slaveholding States, appointed to
assemble at the city of Louisville, Kentucky, the 1st of May, 1845, proceed to a
separate organization, as contingently provided for in the foregoing resolutions, then,
in that event, the convention shall be regarded as the regular General Conference,



Online LibraryH. B. (Henry Bidleman) BascomThe Methodist Church property case. Report of the suit of Henry Bascom, and others, vs. George Lane, and others, heard before the judges Nelson and Betts, in the Circuit Court, United States, for the Southern District of New York, May 17-20, 1851 → online text (page 17 of 87)