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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 20 of 87)
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" 8. That we do most cordially approve of the course of our delegates in the late
General Conference, in the premises, and that we tender them our sincere thanks
for their faithful and independent discharge of duty in a trying crisis.

" 9. That the secretary of this conference be directed to have the foregoing
preamble and resolutions published in the South- Western Christian Advocate.

" All which is respectfully submitted.

" F. E. Pitts, Joshua Boucher, F. G. Ferguson, G. W. Dye, P. P. Neely, W. D.
F. Sawrie. Jno. W. Hanner, A. F. Driskill, R. L. Andrews."

The following resolutions were adopted by the conference :
" ' Resolved, That this conference invite the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, to attend the convention at Louisville, Kentucky.

" ' Resolved, That the preacher in charge of each circuit and station, shall lift a
collection before the first day of April next, to defray the expenses of our delegates to
the convention at Louisville, Kentucky. The funds so collected shall be handed
over to the nearest delegate, or forwarded to the editor of the South- Western
Christian Advocate, and shall be equally distributed among the delegates in proportion
to their expenses ; and should any surplus accrue, it shall be returned to the conference
at its next session, and shall be applied as the other conference funds, in making up
the deficiency of our preachers, &c.' "

On the resolution of the Holston Conference, suggesting a plan of a compromise,
it was unanimously

" ' Resolved, That sympathizing as we do with our brethren of the Holston Con-
ference in the feeling of deep regret for the necessity of a separation of the Southern
portion of our Church from the Northern, and willing as we would be to preserve the-
union of our beloved Church, upon principles safe and just to ourselves and conser-
vative of the Discipline ; yet, inasmuch as any proposition for a compromise of exist-
ing difficulties, which might be proposed with any probability of success, should come
in an authoritative manner from the Northern section of the Church, and believing
the plan proposed by the Holston Conference, would, if generally adopted by the
South, utterly fail to meet the object contemplated, therefore we cannot agree to the
proposition.' "

The proceedings of the Memphis Conference, to which the learned gentleman re-
ferred, are as follows :

" The committee to whom was referred the subject of the division of the Church
into two separate General Conference jurisdictions, and all matters connected there-
with, after solemnly and prayerfully deliberating upon the same, present the follow-
ing report : Inasmuch as the conference is presumed to be well informed on the
merits of the subject, we deem it unnecessary to consume time, by entering into an
extended and argumentative investigation of the various relations, principles, and
bearings of the same, but proceed at once to offer the following resolutions for the
action of the conference :

" Resolved, 1. That it is the deliberate judgment of this conference, that the ac-
tion of the late General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, virtually dc-



107

posing Bishop Andrew, and also their action in affirming the decision of the Baltimore
Annual Conference in the case of the Rev. F. A. Harding, are not sustained by the
Discipline of our Church, and that we consider these proceedings as constituting a
highly-dangerous precedent.

" 2. That we deeply regret the prospect of division growing out of these proceed-
ings, and do most sincerely and devoutly pray to the great Head of the Church, that
some effectual means, not inconsistent with the interests of the cause of Christ, or
the honour of all concerned, may be suggested and devised, by which so great a ca-
lamity may be averted, and our long-cherished union preserved and perpetuated.

" 3. That we approve the holding a convention of delegates from the conferences
in the slaveholding States, in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, 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 on said basis.

" 4. That should a division be found to be indispensable, the delegates of this con-
ference are hereby required to act under the following instructions, to wit : that the
Southern and South- Western conferences shall not be regarded as having by such
division seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church ; but they shall be recognised
in law, and to all intents and purposes, as a co-ordinate branch of the Methodist Epis-
copal Church in the United States of America, simply acting under a separate juris-
diction. And further, that being well satisfied with the Discipline of the Church as
it now is, this conference instructs its delegates not to support or favour any change
in said Discipline by said convention, only so far as is necessary to perfect a South-
ern organization.

" 5. That unless we can be assured that the rights of our ministry and member-
ship will be effectually secured, according to Discipline, against future aggressions,
and full reparation be made for past injury, we shall deem the contemplated division
unavoidable.

" 6. That should the proposed convention, representing the annual conferences of
the Methodist Episcopal Church in the slaveholding States, appointed to assemble
at the city of Louisville, on the first day of May, 1845, proceed to a separate organi-
zation, as contingently provided for in the foregoing resolutions ; then, and in that
event, the convention shall be regarded as the regular General Conference, autho-
rized and appointed by the several annual conferences of the Southern division of the
Church, and as possesssing all the rights, powers, and privileges of the General Con-
ference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and sub-
ject to the same restrictions, limitations, and restraints.

" 7. That in order to secure the constitutional character and action of the conven-
tion, as a General Conference proper, should a separate organization take place, the
ratio of representation as it now stands in the second restrictive rule, one for every
twenty-one, shall prevail, and determine the constitutional delegates, taking as such
the proper number from each annual conference, first elected in order, and that the
remaining delegates be regarded as members of the convention to deliberate, but not
members of the General Conference proper, should the convention proceed to a sepa-
rate 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 foregoing regulation, be absent, then any delegate or delegates pre-
sent, not admitted by said regulation as a member or members of the constitutional
General Conference, may lawfully take the seat or seats of such absent delegates upon
the principles of selection before named.

" 8. That we have witnessed with sorrow and disapprobation, alike the violence-
manifested by some at the South, and the ultraism displayed by others at the North ;
and that we regret exceedingly that any annual conference should have deemed it
necessary to refuse to concur in the recommendation of the late General Conference
to alter the sixth restrictive article : nevertheless, we shall entertain for our brethren
of the North the feeling of Christian kindness and brotherly love.

" 9. That we heartily approve the entire course pursued by our delegates at the
late General Conference.

" 10. That we cordially invite such of our bishops as may deem it proper, to be
present at the contemplated convention in Louisville.



108

"11. That it be made the duty of each preacher to take up a public collection in
every congregation under his charge, for the purpose of defraying the expenses of the
delegates to the convention ; and that such collections be taken up previous to the
first Sabbath in April next, and immediately transmitted to some one of the delegates ;
and that the delegates be required to report to the next annual conference the sums
received by them for this purpose, together with the amount expended by them in
attending said convention.

12. That the secretary of this conference be instructed to forward the foregoing
to the South- Western Christian Advocate for publication, with a request that all other
Church papers copy.

" Moses Brock, Joseph Travis, Thomas Smith, M. J. Blackwell, J. T. Baskerville,
D. J. Allen, B. H. Hubbard, William Pearson, A. T. Scruggs."

The Mississippi Conference adopted the following preamble and resolutions :

" The committee to whom was referred the subject of the contemplated division
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, have endeavoured to examine the subject care-
fully, and in a spirit of reliance upon the teachings of the word of God for direction.

" Your committee can but deplore the existence of such causes as compel the
Church of our choice to meditate a severance of that union which has so long ex-
isted, and which, under God, has contributed so efficiently to the spread of Scriptu-
ral holiness through these lands. But we are fully convinced that justice to our-
selves, as well as compassion for the slaves, demand an unqualified disapproval of
the action of the late General Conference first, in confirming the decision of the
Baltimore Conference, in the case of Rev. F. A. Harding ; and secondly, in virtually
suspending Bishop Andrew from the episcopacy, not only without law or usage, but
in direct contravention of all law, and in defiance of a resolution adopted by the Gene-
ral Conference of 1840, which provides, 'that under the provisional exception of the
general rule of the Church on the subject of slavery, the simple holding of slaves, or
mere ownership of slave property, in the States or Territories where the laws do not
admit of emancipation and permit the liberated slave to enjoy freedom, constitutes
no legal barrier to the election or ordination of ministers to the various grades of of-
fice known in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and cannot therefore
be considered as operating any forfeiture of right in view of such election and ordi-
nation.'

" With the abstract question of slavery we are not now concerned, nor do we re-
gard it as a subject on which the Church has a right to legislate ; neither are we
disposed in this report to state the full extent of our grievances, or to investigate the
reasons which impose upon us the necessity of planning an amicable separation.
Your committee deeply regret the injury which may be inflicted upon our beloved
Zion by the intemperate and unjust denunciation of the whole North by those who
have occasion to complain of the illegal and oppressive course pursued by the ma-
jority of the late General Conference, and most earnestly recommend the exercise of
that charity which ' suffereth long and is kind.' As the result of our prayerful exami-
nation of the subject in all its bearings, we offer the following resolutions for your
consideration and adoption :

" Resolved, 1 . That the decisions of the late General Conference in the cases of
Rev. F. A. Harding and Bishop Andrew, were unauthorized by the Discipline of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, and that a tame submission to them upon the part of
the Church in the slaveholding States, would prevent our access to the slaves, and
expose us to 'suspicions destructive to our general usefulness.

"Resolved, 2. That as no authorized plan of compromise has been suggested by the
North, and as all the propositions made by the Southern delegates were rejected, we
regard a separation as inevitable, and approve the holding of a convention, to meet
in Louisville, Kentucky, on the first day of May next, agreeably to the recommenda-
tion of the Southern and South- Western delegates to the late General Conference ;
and that the ratio of representation proposed by said delegates to wit, one delegate
for every eleven members of the annual conferences be, and the same is hereby
adopted, and that this conference will elect delegates to the proposed convention
upon said basis. Provided, however, that if. in the providence of God, any plan of
compromise, which in the judgment of our delegates will redress our grievances, and
effectually secure to us the full exercise and peaceable enjoyment of all our disci-



109

plinary rights, should be proposed in time to prevent disunion, we will joyfully em-
brace it.

" Resolved, 3. That our delegates to said convention shall be empowered to co-
operate with the delegates to said convention from the other conferences, in adopting
such measures as they shall deem necessary for the complete organization of a
Southern Church, provided that it conform in all its essential features to the Disci-
pline of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

" Resolved, 4. That the course pursued by our immediate representatives in the
late General Conference, was and is approved by us.

" Resolved, 5. That the conciliatory spirit evinced by our general superintendents
entitles them to the unqualified approbation of the whole Church, and that we do
most cordially invite them to attend the proposed convention.

" All of which is respectfully submitted.

" D. O. Shattuck. William H. Watkins, John G. Jones, B. Pipkin, L. Campbell,
John N. Hamill, A. T. M. Fly, David M. Wiggins, W. G. Gould."

" Eighty-one voting concurring in the change of the sixth restrictive rule none
non-concurring."

" Resolved, That the first Friday in May next be set apart as a day of special fast-
ing and prayer for the superintendence and direction of Divine Providence, with
regard to our Church difficulties, that the delegates may act so as to bring the
greatest glory to God and the most good to his Church."

" The committee to whom was referred the resolutions of the Holston Confer-
ence, have had the same under consideration, and although we hold ourselves in
readiness to accept any plan of pacification which obliterates the distinction between
Northern and Southern Methodists, we do not regard the resolution of the Holston
Conference as sanctioned by the North, or practicable in itself. Therefore,

" Resolved, That this conference do not concur.

"D. 0. Shattuck, William Hamilton Watkins, John G. Jones, B. Pipkin, L.
Campbell, J. N. Hamill, A. T. M. Fly, D. M. Wiggins, Wm. G. Gould."

" Seventy-three non-concurring none concurring."

The following report and resolutions were adopted by the Arkansas Conference :

" The committee to whom were referred the several subjects connected with the
prospective division of the Methodist Episcopal Church, have had the same under
calm and prayerful consideration, and beg leave to present the following as the result
of their honest deliberations.

" Being well convinced that the members of this body have not been inattentive
to the proceedings of the General Conference, and that they have not failed to derive
some information from the numerous addresses and communications that have ap-
peared in our periodicals, your committee have not been disposed to waste their time,
nor insult your judgments, by detailing the many circumstances, which, were you
differently situated, would require amplification, they, therefore, present to your
minds for consideration and action, the subjoined resolutions :

" 1. Resolved, That it is the decided opinion of this conference, that the Disci-
pline of the Methodist Episcopal Church does not sustain the action of the late
General Conference in the cases of Rev. F. A. Harding and Bishop Andrew.

" 2. Resolved, That we approve the suggestions of the bishops, as well as the
request of several Southern delegates, which contemplated the postponing of the
action of the General Conference, until the wishes of the whole Church could be
consulted.

" 3. Resolved, That, as we see no probability that reparation will be made for past
injuries, and no security given that the rights and privileges of the ministry and
membership in the slaveholding conferences will be equally respected, we believe it
is the imperative duty, if not the only alternative, of the South, to form a separate
organization. Nevertheless, should honourable and satisfactory propositions for pa-
cification be made by the North, we shall expect our delegates to favour the perpe-
tuation of the union.

" 4. 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
first day of May, 1845, agreeably to the recommendation of the delegates from the
Southern and South- Western conferences, in the late General Conference.



110

"5. Resolved. That t-hould the proposed convention, representing the Methodist
Episcopal Church in the slaveholding States, appointed to assemble at Louisville, Ken-
tucky, the first day 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 authorized and appointed by the several
tiinual conferences in 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 of America, and subject to the same restrictions, limi-
tations, and restraints.

" 6. 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 second restrictive rule, one for
every twenty-one, shall prevail and determine the 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 con-
vention to deliberate, 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 a member or mem-
bers of the constitutional General Conference, may lawfully take the seats of such
absent delegates, upon the principle of selection named above.

" 7. Resolved, That, as %ve are well satisfied with the Discipline of the Methodist
Episcopal Church as it is, we hereby instruct our delegates to said convention not to
favour any change therein.

" 8. Resolved, That, though we feel ourselves aggrieved, and have been wounded,
without cause, in the house of our friends, we have no disposition to impute wrong
motives to the majority in the late General Conference, and no inclination to endorse
those vindictive proceedings had in some portions of the South, believing it to be the
duty of Christians, under all circumstances, to exercise that charity which beareth all
things.

" 9. Resolved, That the preachers take up collections on their several circuits and
stations, at an early period, and hand the money collected to their presiding elders,
that the delegates may receive the whole amount collected before they shall be re-
quired to start for Louisville.

" 10. Resolved, That we tender our warmest thanks to our representatives in the late
General Conference, for the stand which they took, with others, in defence of our
T)isciplinary rights.

"11. Resolved, That the bishops generally be, and they hereby are, requested,
if it be congenial with their feelings, to attend the convention at Louisville.

" 12. Resolved, That we recommend to our people the observance of the first of
May next as a day of humiliation and prayer, that the Divine presence may attend
the deliberations of the convention.

"John Harrell, Fountain Brown, J. B. Annis, Jacob Custer, Alexander Avery,
J. F. Truslow."

The Virginia Conference adopted the following preamble and resolutions :

" The committee to whom was referred the resolutions of the late General Con-
ference, recommending to all the annual conferences at their first approaching ses-
sions, to authorize a change of the sixth restrictive article, so that the first clause
shall read, ' They shall not appropriate the produce of the Book Concern nor of the
Chartered Fund to any purpose, other than the travelling, supernumerary, superan-
nuated, and worn-out preachers, their wives, widows, and children, and to such other
purposes as may be determined on by the votes of two-thirds of the members of the
General Conference,' and to whom was also referred the Address of the Southern
delegates in the late General Conference, recommending a Southern Convention, to
be held in Louisville, Kentucky, on the first day of May, 1845 ; together with the
proceedings of various primary and quarterly conference meetings within the bounds
of the Virginia Conference on the subject of a separation from the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, beg leave
to report :

" That, having maturely considered these subjects, they do not deem it necessary



Ill

to present an argument upon the various topics submitted to them ; but that the
duty assigned them will probably be more satisfactorily accomplished in the following
series of resolutions, namely :

"Resolved, 1. That we concur in the recommendation of the late General Con-
ference to change the sixth restrictive article of the Discipline of our Church.

" Resolved, 2. That, from the ample sources of information before your com-
mittee, in numerous primary meetings, which have been held in various charges
within our pastoral limits, and the proceedings of quarterly meeting conferences,
which we have the most sufficient reason to regard as a fair and full exponent of the
mind and will of the membership upon the subject of the action of the recent General
Conference, and the propriety of division, we are of opinion, that it is the mind of
the laity of the Church, with no exception sufficient to be regarded as the basis ol"
action, that, whilst they seriously deprecate division, considered relatively, and most
earnestly wish that some ground of permanent union could have been found, they see
no alternative, and therefore approve of a peaceable separation in the present circum-
stances of our condition ; and in this opinion and this determination your committee
unanimously concur.

" Resolved, 3. That we concur in the recommendation of the Southern delegates in
the late General Conference, that there be a Southern Convention, to be held in
Louisville, Kentucky, on the first day of May, 1845 ; and in the objects of this con-
oention, as are contemplated in the address of the Southern- delegates.

" Resolved, 4. That while we do not propose to dissolve our connexion with the
Methodist Episcopal Church, but only with the General Conference of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, we are, therefore, entitled to our full proportion of all the rights
and privileges appertaining to the property of the Church. Nevertheless, our dele-
gates to the convention to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, in May, 1845, are hereby
instructed not to allow the question of property to enter into the calculation whether
or not we shall exist as a separate organization.

" Resolved, 5. That the action of the late General Conference in the case of
Bishop Andrew, was in violation of the provisional rule of the Discipline on the sub-
ject of slavery, and in derogation of the dignity and authority of the episcopal office :
it was, therefore, equally opposed to the rights of the Southern portion of the Church,
and to those of the incumbents of the episcopal office. But more than this : it was
an effort to accomplish, by legislative action, what it was only competent for them
to do, if at all, by regular judicial process : the very attempt was an acknowledgment
that there was no rule of Discipline, under which he could either be deposed or cen-
sured, and that the General Conference, being unrestrained by the authority of law,
was supreme. Thus, both the episcopal office and its incumbents were taken from
under the protection of the constitutional restriction, and the provisional rule of Dis-



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 20 of 87)