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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 22 of 87)
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could not be considered immoralities or official delinquencies, and so entirely depend-



117

ent for their very existence upon the caprice or varying notions of every General
Conference, that they could not either be classified or designated.

" The foregoing views we consider the embodiment of public opinion throughout
our conference. The sentiments of our people in primary meetings, in quarterly
conferences, as expressed in the most solemn forms, sustain the course of our delega-
tion in the General Conference, and approve and even demand an organization which
shall transfer the slaveholding conferences from the jurisdiction of me North. The
unanimity of the people we verily believe to be without a parallel in the history of
Church action, and therefore feel ourselves perfectly justified in recommending to
your body the adoption of the following resolutions, viz :

" 1. Resolved, That we will elect delegates to the convention to be held in Louis-
ville, in Kentucky, on the 1 st of May next, upon the basis of representation proposed
and acted on by the other conferences ; viz., one delegate for every eleven members
of our conference.

" 2. Resolved, That our delegates be instructed to co-operate with the delegates
from the other Southern and South-Western conferences, who shall be represented in
the convention, in effecting the organization of a General Conference, which shall
embrace those annual conferences, and in making all necessary arrangements for its
going into operation, as soon as the acts of the said convention shall have been
reported by the several delegations to their constituents, and accepted by them, ac-
cording to such arrangements as may be made by the convention for carrying the
same into effect.

" 3. Resolved, That our delegates be instructed to use all prudent precautions to
secure that portion of the Book Concern and Chartered Fund of the Methodist Epis-
copal Church, to which the annual conferences represented in the convention, shall
be unitedly entitled, and all the property to which the several annual conferences are
entitled to them severally ; and that to this end, they be requested to obtain the
written opinions of one or more eminent lawyers ; but that in the event they must
either abandon the property, or remain under the jurisdiction of the General Confer-
ence of the Methodist Episcopal Church, constituted as it now is, they be left to the
exercise of a sound discretion in the premises.

" 4. Resolved, That our delegates make a report to this body at its next session,
of all their acts and doings in the aforesaid convention, and this body shall not be
bound by any arrangements therein made, until after it shall have accepted and ap-
proved them in conference assembled.

" 5. Resolved, That our delegates be, and they are hereby instructed not to agree
to any alterations in the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but that the
Discipline adopted under the new organization, shall be that known and recognised
as the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, with such
modifications only as are necessary formally to adapt it to the new organization.

li 6. Resolved, That we consider ourselves as an integral part of the Methodist
Episcopal Church in the United States, and that we have done no act, nor do we
authorize any act to be done in our name, by which our title to be so considered shall
be forfeited, unless in the event contemplated in the last clause of the third resolution
it becomes necessary so to do.

" 7. Resolved, That we highly appreciate the devotion of our venerable senior
bishop to the constitution and Discipline of the Church, and his uncompromising
firmness in maintaining both the one and the other, and hereby assure him of our in-
creased confidence and affection.

"8. Resolved, That our beloved Bishop Andrew has endeared himself to the
preachers and people of the Southern Church, by resisting the constitutional dictation
of the majority of the late General Conference, and that we cordially approve his
whole action in the case, and welcome him to the unrestricted exercise of his episco-
pal functions among us.

" 9. Resolved, That the course of our delegates in the trying circumstances by
which they were surrounded during the last session of the General Conference, meets
our entire approbation.

" 10. Resolved, That we concur in the alteration of the sixth restrictive rule, as
recommended by the resolution of the General Conference.

"11. Resolved, That we do not concur with the Holston Conference in the reso-
lution proposed by them, regarding it as tending only to embarrass the action of the
convention, without the slighest promise of good to either division of the Church.



118

" L. Pierce, Thomas Samford, Ignatius A. Few, Samuel Anthony, Isaac Boring,
George F. Pierce, Joan W. Talley, W. D. Matthews, J. B. Payne, Josiah Lewis."

" It was further resolved, that the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church be
requested to attend the convention of Southern delegates to be held at Louisville in
May next."

The following report was unanimously adopted by the Florida Conference :

" The committee to whom was referred the subject of the action of the late Gene-
ral Conference in the cases of Bishop Andrew and F. A. Harding ; also the report
of the committee of nine in the late General Conference on the subject of a peace-
able separation of the Church ; also the resolution of the Holston Conference on the
same subject, submit the following resolutions, to wit :

" 1. Resolved, That we disapprove of the course of the late General Conference
in the cases of Bishop Andrew and F. A. Harding.

" 2. That we heartily approve the proposed Plan of Separation as adopted by the
General Conference, under which the Southern and South-Western conferences are
authorized to unite in a distinct ecclesiastical connexion.

" 3. That we .are satisfied that the peace and success of the Church in the South
demand a separate and distinct organization.

" 4. That we commend and admire the firm and manly course pursued by Bishop
Andrew under the trials he has had to encounter, and that we still regard him as
possessing all his episcopal functions.

" 5. That the course pursued by our venerable senior superintendent, Bishop
Soule, in defending the Discipline of our Church, has served but to endear him to us
more and more, and we heartily approve his course in inviting Bishop Andrew to
assist him in his episcopal visitations.

" 6. That we tender our warmest thanks to all those brethren who voted in the
minority in Bishop Andrew's case.

" 7. That we approve of the proposed convention to be held in Louisville the first
of May next, and will proceed to elect delegates to said convention.

" 8. That we do not concur in the resolution of the Holston Conference, proposing
the election of delegates for forming a plan of compromise.

" 9. That we do concur in the recommendation of the late General Conference for
the change of the sixth article in the restrictive rules in the Book of Discipline, al-
lowing an equitable pro rota division of the Book Concern.

" P. P. Smith, T. C. Benning, R. H. Lucky, J. W. Yarbrough, R. H. Howren,
"\V. W. Griffin, A. Peeler, A. Martin, S. P. Richardson."

The Texas Conference adopted the following report and resolutions :

" The committee to whom were referred certain acts of the late General Con-
ference, causing and providing for a division of the Methodist Episcopal Church, or
the General Conference thereof, and sundry communications pertaining thereto, have
had the same under solemn and prayerful consideration, and beg leave to present
the following report :

" In view of the numerous expositions and arguments, pro and con, with which
the Christian Advocates have teemed for some months, on the merits of the highly-
important subject upon which your committee have been called to act, they presume
that the conference is too well enlightened to need an elaborate and argumentative
investigation of them, in their multifarious relations and bearings ; they, therefore,
respectfully present the following resolutions, as the result of their deliberations :

"Resolved, 1. That we approve of the course of the Southern and South-Western
delegates in the late General Conference ; and that their independent and faithful
discharge of duty, in a trying crisis, commands our admiration and merits our thanks.

" 2. That we deeply deplore the increasingly-fearful controversy between the
Northern and Southern divisions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, on the institu-
tion of domestic slavery, and that we will not cease to pray most fervently to the
great Head of the Church for his gracious interposition in guiding this controversy
to a happy issue.

" 3. That we approve the appointment of a convention of delegates from the con-
ferences in the slaveholding States, in the city of Louisville, on the first of May next,



119

by the Southern and South- Western delegates in the late General Conference ; and
also, the ratio of representation proposed by said delegates to wit, one delegate for
every eleven members of the Conference ; and that we will elect delegates to the
proposed convention upon said basis, to act under the following instructions, to wit :
To endeavour to secure a compromise between the North and South ; to oppose a
formal division of the Church before the General Conference of 1848, or a general
convention can be convened to decide the present controversy. But should a divi-
sion be deemed unavoidable, and be determined on by the convention, then, being
well satisfied with the Discipline of the Church, as it is, we instruct our delegates
not to support or favour any change in said Discipline, by said convention, other than
to adapt its fiscal economy to the Southern organization.

" 4. That we approve of the dignified and prudent course of the bench of bishops,
who presided in the late General Conference.

" 5. That it is the sense of this conference, that the Rev. John Clarke, one of our
delegates to the late General Conference, entirely misrepresented our views and
sentiments, in his votes in the cases of Rev. F. A. Harding and Bishop Andrew.

" 6. That we appoint the Friday immediately preceding the meeting of the pro-
posed general convention of the delegates of the Southern and South- Western con-
ferences, as a day of fasting and prayer for the blessing of Almighty God on said
convention, that it may be favoured with the healthful influence of his grace, and
the guidance of his wisdom.

" Chauncey Richardson, Robert Alexander, Samuel A. Williams :"

The Alabama Conference adopted the following preamble and resolutions .

"The committee appointed by the conference to take into consideration the sub-
ject of a separate jurisdiction for the Southern conferences of the Methodist Episco-
pal Church, beg leave to report : That they have meditated with prayerful solici-
tude on this important matter, and have solemnly concluded on the necessity of the
measure. They suppose it to be superfluous to review formally all the proceedings
which constitute the unhappy controversy between the Northern and Southern por-
tions of our Church, inasmuch as their sentiments can be expressed in one sentence,
They endorse the unanswerable Protest of the minority in the late General Con-
ference. They believe that the doctrines of that imperishable document cannot be
successfully assailed. They are firm in the conviction that the action of the ma-
jority in the case of Bishop Andrew was unconstitutional. Being but a delegated
body, the General Conference has no legitimate right to tamper with the' office of a
general superintendent his amenableness to that body and liability to expulsion by
it, having exclusive reference to mal-administration, ceasing to travel, and immoral
conduct. They are of opinion that Bishop Andrew's connexion with slavery can come
under none of these heads. If the entire eldership of the Church, in a conven-
tional capacity, were to constitute non-si aveholding or even abolitionism a tenure by
which the episcopal office should be held, or if they were to abolish the office, they
doubtless could plead the abstract right thus to modify or revolutionize the Church
in its supreme executive administration ; but before the General Conference can
justly plead this right, it must show when and where such plenary power was dele-
gated to it by the only fountain of authority the entire pastorate of the Church.
Your committee are, therefore, of opinion, that the General Conference has no more
power over a bishop, except in the specified cases of mal-administration, ceasing to
travel, and immorality, than over the episcopacy, as an integral part of our ecclesi-
astical polity. It can no more depose a bishop for slaveholding than it can create a
new Church.

" Your committee deeply regret that these ' conservative ' sentiments did not
occur to the majority in the late General Conference, and that the apologists of
that body, since its session, have given them no place in their ecclesiastical creed,
but on the contrary have given fearful evidence that the proceedings in the case of
Bishop Andrew are but the incipiency of a course, which, when finished, will leave
not a solitary slaveholder in the communion which shall be unfortunately under their
control. The foregoing sentiments and opinions embody the general views ex-
pressed most unequivocally throughout the conference district since the late General
Conference, by the large body of the membership, both in primary meetings and
quarterly conferences.



120

" The committee, therefore, offer to the calm consideration and mature action of
the Alabama Annual Conference, the following series of resolutions :

" 1. Rcsolttd, That this conference deeply deplores the action of the late General
Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the case of our venerable super-
intendent, Bishop Andrew, believing it to be unconstitutional, being as totally desti-
tute of warrant from the Discipline as from the word of God.

" 2. That the almost-unanimous agreement of Northern Methodists with the
majority, and Southern Methodists with the minority of the late General Con-
ference, shows the wisdom of that body in suggesting a duality of jurisdiction to
meet the present emergency.

" 3. That this conference agrees to the proposition for the alteration of the sixth
restrictive rule of the Discipline.

" 4. That this conference approves of the projected convention at Louisville, in
May next.

" 5. That this conference most respectfully invites all the bishops to attend the
proposed convention at Louisville.

" 6. That this conference is decided in its attachment to Methodism, as it exists
in the Book of Discipline, and hopes that the Louisville convention will not make
the slightest alteration, except so far as may be absolutely necessary for the forma-
tion of a separate jurisdiction.

" 7. That every preacher of this conference shall take up a collection in his
station or circuit, as soon as practicable, to defray the expenses of the delegates to
the convention ; and the proceeds of such collection shall be immediately paid over
to the nearest delegate or presiding elder, and the excess or deficit of the collection
for the said expenses shall be reported to the next conference, which shall take action
on the same.

" 8. That the Friday immediately preceding the session of the convention, shall
be observed in all our circuits and stations, as a day of fasting and prayer for the
blessings of God upon its deliberations.

"9. That whilst this conference fully appreciates the commendable motives which
induced the Holston Conference to suggest another expedient to compromise the
differences existing between the Northern and Southern divisions of the Church, it
nevertheless cannot concur in the proposition of that conference concerning that
matter.

" 10. That this conference fully recognises the right of our excellent superinten-
dent, Bishop Soule, to invite Bishop Andrew to share with him the responsibilities
of the episcopal office ; and while the conference regrets the absence of the former,
it rejoices in being favoured with the efficient services of the latter it respectfully
tenders these ' true yoke-fellows ' in the superintendency the fullest approbation, the
most fervent prayers, and the most cordial sympathies.

" Thos. O. Summers, A. H. Mitchell, E. V. Levert, J. Hamilton, E. Heam, W.
Murrah, J. Boring, Geo. Shaeffer, C. McLeod."

Bishop Soule's letter of adhesion, and Bishop Andrew's letter, both of which were
addressed to the convention at Louisville, are as follows :

"DEAR BRETHREN, I feel myself bound in good faith, to carry out the official
plan of episcopal visitations as settled by the bishops in New- York, and published in
the official papers of the Church, until the session of the first General Conference of
the Methodist Episcopal Church, South ; from which time it would be necessary
that the plan should be so changed as to be accommodated to the jurisdiction of the
two distinct General Conferences. That when such Southern General Conference
shall be held, I shall feel myself fully authorized by the Plan of Separation, adopted
by the General Conference of 1844, to unite myself with the Methodist Episcopal
Church, South, and if received by the General Conference of said Church, to exercise
the functions of the episcopal office within the jurisdiction of said General Conference.

" Louisville, Ky., May 19, 1845. JOSHUA SOULE."

" DEAR BRETHREN, I decidedly approve the course which the convention has
taken in establishing the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, believing, as I do most
sincerely, that it will tend, under God's blessing, to the wider spread and more effi-
cient propagation of the Gospel of the grace of God. I accept the invitation of the



convention to act as one of the superintendents of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
South, and pledge myself, in humble dependence upon Divine grace, to use my best
efforts to promote the cause of God in the interesting and extensive field of labour
assigned me.

" May the blessing of God be upon us mutually, in our laborious field of action,
and, finally, may we all, with our .several charges, be gathered to the home of God
and the good in heaven ! Affectionately your brother and fellow-labourer,

" Louisville, May, 1845. JAMES 0. ANDREW."

The Pastoral Address referred to by Mr. Lord was in these words :

" To the ministers of the several annual conferences of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, South, and to all the brethren of their pastoral oversight, the convention of
said annual conferences address this letter, with Christian salutation.

" We gratefully regard it matter of congratulation, beloved brethren, for which
our thanks should be offered at the throne of grace, that we have been enabled to
conduct the business confided to us by you, with great harmony, and except, perhaps,
some inconsiderable shades of difference on points of minor import, with unexampled
unanimity. Our agreement on all questions of importance, has probably been as per-
fect as the weakness of human knowledge might allow, or reason should require.

" For full information of all that we have done, we refer you to the journal of our
proceedings, and the documents which accompany it ; particularly the reports of the
committee on organization and on missions. This latter interest we have made
the subject of a special letter, wishing to bring it immediately to the notice of all our
Churches and congregations, (to whom we have requested the letter might be read,)
to engage their instant liberality.

" We made it a point of early inquiry, in the course of our proceedings, to ascer-
tain with what unanimity the annual conferences represented by us, and the entire
body of the ministry and membership within their general bounds, were known to
have concurred in sustaining the Declaration of the Southern delegates in the late
General Conference, and in approving of the Plan provided by that Conference for
our being constituted a distinct ecclesiastical connexion, separate from the North.
The committee on organization, being composed of two members from each of the
annual conferences, was furnished with ample means of obtaining satisfactory infor-
mation. The members of the committee held meetings with their several delega-
tions apart, and on a comparison of their several reports carefully made, it was found,
that both as to the members of the annual conferences, and the local ministry and
membership of our entire territory, the declaration had been sustained, and a separate
organization called for, by as great majority as ninety-Jive to Jive. Nor did it appear
that even Jive in a hundred were disposed to array themselves against their brethren,
whose interests were identical with their own ; but that part were Northern brethren
sojourning in our borders, and part were dwelling in sections of the country where
the questions involved did not materially concern their Christian privileges, or those
of the slaves among them. So great appears to have been the unanimity of opinion
prevailing, both among the pastors and the people, as to the urgent necessity of the
great measure which we were deputed to effect, by organizing on the basis of the
Discipline, and the Plan provided by the late General Conference, THE METHODIST
EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH.

" That on so grave a question, concerning interests so sacred, and affecting so nu-
merous a people, spread over the vast extent of the country from Missouri to the
Atlantic Ocean, and from Virginia to Texas, there should be found some who dissent,
is what we could not but expect. But that the number dissenting should have been
so small, compared to the number of those who have required us to act, is, at least
to our minds, conclusive proof of the absolute necessity of this action, as affording
the only means left in our power to preserve the Church in the more Southern
States from hopeless ruin. Indeed the action of the late General Conference, with-
out the intervention of the Declaration of the Southern delegates, and the provisional
Plan for a separate Southern connexion, must have immediately broken up all our
missions to the people of colour, and subjected their classes in most of the Southern
circuits to ruinous deprivations. Of this, the evidence has been unquestionable.
And it must appear to you, brethren, that for whatever reason so great an evil was
threatened for a cause which the Southern delegates did nothing to produce, but re-



122

sisted in the General Conference, that evil could not fail of being inflicted with
redoubled violence, and to a still greater extent, if we, having a platform legally
furnished for a separate organization, should hesitate a moment to avail ourselves of it.
It would be, in effect, to put ourselves, in relation to the laws and policy of the
Southern people, in the same position which was so injuriously offensive in our
Northern brethren, while it could not be plead in extenuation of the fault, that we
were Northern men, and ignorant of the state of affairs at the South. Into such a po-
sition we could not possibly put ourselves ; nor can we think that reasonable men
would require us to do so.

" We avow, brethren, and we do it with the greatest solemnity, that while we
have thus been laid under the imperative force of an absolute necessity to organize
the Southern and South- Western conferences into an independent ecclesiastical con-
nexion, whose jurisdiction shall be exclusive of all interference on the part of the
North, we do not withdraw from the true Christian and catholic pale of the Methodist
Episcopal Church. And that whilst we have complained, with grievous cause, of
the power of the majority of the General Conference, as that power has been con-
strued and exercised, we have not complained, and have no complaint, against the
Church in itself. The General Conference, or a majority thereof, is not the Church.
Nor is it possible that that should be the Methodist Episcopal Church, which with-
draws the ministry of the Gospel from the poor, and turns her aside from her calling
of God, ' to spread Scripture holiness over these lands,' in order to fulfil some other
errand, no matter what. We could not be Methodists at all, as we have been taught
what Methodism is, if, with our knowledge of its nature, its aim, its constitution, its
discipline, and of the ruin inevitable to the work of the ministry in most of the South-
em States, if not in all of them, we should still cleave to a Northern jurisdiction ;



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 22 of 87)