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 38 of 87)
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observe that the plan of its operation is general, embracing the whole work in con-
nexional order, and not diocesan, or sectional. Consequently any division of the



work into districts, or otherwise, so as to create a particular charge, with any other
view, or in any order, than as a prudential measure to secure to all the conferences
the annual visits of the superintendents, would be an innovation on the system.

" III. If we have taken a correct view of this subject, our superintendency must be
itinerant, and not local. It was wisely provided in the system of Methodism, from its
very foundation, that it should be the duty of the superintendent ' to travel through the
Connexion at large.' And although the extension of geographical boundaries, and the
great increase of the annual conferences, have made it necessary to increase the
number of the bishops, still the duty required, and the obligation to perform it, re-
main the same.

" That such a system as our itinerant ministry could not be preserved in harmo-
nious and efficient operation under the direction of local bishops, is too obvious to re-
quire proof. If we preserve a travelling ministry, we must have travelling superin-
tendents. They must add to their official authority the power of their example.
Remove the latter, and the former will be divested of the chief element of its

" It is, indeed, a work which requires a measure of the zeal, and self-sacrificing
spirit of the apostles, and first ministers of Christ, who followed them. And we de-
voutly pray that the ministry may never so far relax in the spirit and power of the
great commission, ' Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature,'
as to lack men well qualified for this vocation men whose minds, grasping the work
of God in all its length and breadth, will count nothing dear to themselves as apper-
taining to the present life ; but giving themselves wholly to God and his Church, will
live, and labour, and suffer for the promotion of Christ's kingdom and the salvation
of souls.

" With the foregoing remarks on the duties and responsibilities of the superinten-
dents, we submit to your consideration the importance of having this department sup-
plied with such a number of effective men as will enable them, in consecutive order,
to travel through the whole Connexion without subjecting any one to such a con-
tinued weight of care and labour as is sufficient to prostrate the mental and physical
energies of the strongest constitution, and thereby indirectly defeat the ends de-
signed to be accomplished ; and, on the other hand, to guard against the increase
of the number beyond the actual demands of the work. In whatever light we view
it, but especially in the light of example, the existence of a sinecure in the episco-
pacy should be regarded as no ordinary evil.


"New-York, May 2, 1844. ' THOS. A. MORRIS."

I refer next, as to the usage of the General Conference in canvassing the votes of
the annual conferences on a proposed change of the restrictive articles, to Proofs No.
1, pp. 43, 46, and 47. I also refer to p. 47, to show that all the annual conferences,
including the Southern annual conferences, in the Canada case; admitted the neces-
sity of a change in the sixth restrictive rule before any part o/ the profits of the Book
Concern could be apportioned to the Canada Conference. On p. 43 is this minute
from the journals of the General Conference :

" Resolved, <fa., That until the will of the annual conferences shall be ascertained,
and a final settlement be made, the Canada Conference shall receive the same equal
annual dividend of the profits of the Book Concern as heretofore.

" 5th. A motion for the adoption of this resolution was made, voted, and carried.

" On motion, The secretary is hereby directed to furnish the delegates from
Canada with a copy of the decision of this Conference on that business.

" The resolution was presented to the annual conferences, and the following was
the result, (according to the minutes of the secretary of the committee to whom the
business was referred, at the General Conference of 1836 :) "

Then follows an address which is out of its place. On p. 46 commences the re-
port of this committee :


" CINCINNATI, OHIO, May 6, 1836.

" Committee cm Canada Claims met on Friday evening, May 6th, at the Preachers'
Office, Cincinnati. Committee consists of II. Paine, T. A. Morris, A. Griffith,
M. Richardson, and C. Sherman. The whole committee present. C. Sherman
chosen secretary. Rev. Mr. Lord presented to the committee a copy of the resolu-
tions of the General Conference of 1828 and of 1832, on the subject of an appro-
priation from the Book Concern of the Methodist Episcopal Church to the Canada
Conference, which was read. (See Doc. Nos. 1 and 2.) Copies of the resolutions
of the annual conferences, concurring or non-concurring with the General Conference
resolution, were then handed to the committee by Rev. B. Waugh, and read. (See
Doc. No. 3.) The conferences concurring were as follow :

New-England Conference, held June, 1832 Ayes 73

Maine Conference, held July 24, 1832

New-Hampshire Conference, held August 8, 1832

Oneida Conference, held 1833

Genesee Conference, held July, 1832 _

New- York Conference, held June 9, 1833



Noes 1


Six conferences.

For concurrence, 503 Against, 17
" The conferences non-concurring were as follow :

Kentucky Conference, held Oct. 22, 1832 Non-concurring, 66 Concurring,

Indiana Conference, held October 17, 1832

Pittsburgh Conference, held August 23, 1832

South Carolina Conference, held April 22, 1833...

Mississippi Conference, held May 15, 1833

Ohio Conference

Holstein Conference, held March 29, 1833

Virginia Conference, held March 6, 1833

Baltimore Conference, held April 5, J833

Philadelphia Conference, held April 24, 1833

Missouri Conference

Georgia Conference

Alabama Conference

Illinois Conference

Tennessee Conference






Fifteen conferences non-concurring.

Number for, 741 Against, 96
17 503

Whole number in the several conferences against, 758
" " " for, 599

For, 599

Majority against granting Canada claims, 159

Brother Case then addressed the committee, making several remarks and state-
ments in favour of the claims being answered. Committee was then addressed by
brother Lord. After some information, obtained by brother Waugh, committee ad-
journed, to meet again next Tuesday evening.

" (Signed,) C. SHERMAN, Sec'y."

To show that the annual conferences of the South voted upon the proposition to
change the sixth restrictive rule in 1844, I refer to the report on the Journal of the
General Conference of 1848, p. 177. That report has already been read.

MK. LORD, Mr. Fancher, do you consider that report as evidence on the subject \
MR. FANCHER, It is in evidence.

MR. LORD, The report is evidence that somebody said such was the fact ; but it
ia not evidence of the fact. , . \

MR. FANCHER, I understood that it might be read.


MR. WOOD, It may be read subject to the decision of the Court.

MR. LORD, If ray friend will read any one of the certificates from the annual
conferences as to the result, I will admit that the numbers stated in the report are
correct. I wish the Court to see how the question was submitted to the annual

MR. FANCHER, I will read the certificate from the Troy Conference.

president brought before the conference the third resolution in the series adopted
by the General Conference, relative to the alteration of the sixth restrictive arti-
cle of the Discipline, and other matters ; so that the first clause shall read as
follows : ' They shall not appropriate the produce of the Book Concern, nor of
the Chartered Fund, to any purpose other than for the benefit of the travelling, super-
numerary, superannuated, 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.'

" The question being taken on the motion to adopt the resolution, it prevailed
one hundred and twenty -three voting in the affirmative, and six in the negative."

" I hereby certify that the .above is a true extract from the Journals of the Troy
Annual Conference.

"J. B. HOUOHTALING, Secretary of the Troy Annual Conference.

" WEST TROY, March 7th, 1851."

MR. LORD, I am now ready to admit the number stated in the report ; and I will
sign a consent to that effect with you.

MR. FANCHER, That is not material ; the report states the numbers, and the
report is before the Court.

MR. LORD, The report is before the Court, to show that such a report was made ;
but it does not, of itself, prove the facts there stated. We will sign a consent, how-

JUDGE NELSON, If the counsel insists, the facts stated in the report cannot be
considered proper and legal evidence of those facts ; the report is only evidence that
such a report was made.

MR. LORD, I will sign a consent to the admission as evidence of the numbers
stated in the report.

MR. EWING, The consent can be signed in the recess.

JUDGE NELSON, I understood the counsel in his argument to concede that the
necessary number of votes was not given to authorize a change of the restrictive

MR. LORD, They have not proved that the requisite number was not given,

MR FANCHER, It is not necessary for us to prove it. In the complaint they as-
sert that the necessary number of votes was obtained. We denied it in our answer.
Therefore the proof was for them to furnish.

JUDGE BETTS, Let me suggest that it would be, perhaps, advisable for Mr.
Fancher to yield to Mr. Lord's suggestion, in order to give perfectness to the evi-
dence. The case should not be put to the peril, if it should go further, of being sent
back on account of informality in the admission of evidence.


MR. FANCHER, Very well. We have acted on the principle that what was the
truth should be submitted.

MR. LORD, My friend has acted on that principle throughout.

MR. FANCHER, I refer, in the next place, to show that thousands of ministers
and members in the territory of the Church, South, were adverse to the proceedings
of their Southern brethren, and preferred to remain in the Church of their early
choice, to the Journal of the General Conference of 1848, pp. 19 and 37, where peti-
tions were presented from the South on the subject ; to the journal of 1848, pp. 116
and 117, where reports were made on the subject; and p. 175, where the General
Conference mention it in their Pastoral Address.

MR. LORD, That, you will understand, is not admitted. It is admitted that it
was reported to your Conference that such was the fact.

MR. FANCHER, I do not understand it as evidence of anything, except that such a
report was made to us.

MR. JOHNSON, How did the subject come before the Conference of 1848 1
MR. FANCHER, On petitions to the General Conference of 1848.
MR. JOHNSON, Have you got the petitions before you 1
MR. FANCHER, No, sir.

JUDGE NELSON, If you deem this material, Mr. Fancher, it must be proved by
some other evidence, or be admitted by consent of the counsel on the other side.

MR. JOHNSON, We do not admit the facts there stated.

MR. FANCHER, The journal of the Conference of 1848 is, I believe, admitted
under the same consent as Book No. 2. We refer, therefore, to the facts there stated
in the same light, and expect the same effect to be attributed to them, as they refer
to their Book No. 2.

MR. EWINO, That is the true exposition of the matter.
MR. LORD, I will sign a consent.

JUDGE BETTS, The stipulation admits these journals to be " considered as duly
authenticated and verified by proof."

MR. FANCHER, The journal of the Conference of 1848 is admitted under the
same stipulation as Book No. 2. I shall ask no more on this point than that the
Court take a note of these references, and give them what effect they may be enti-
tled to.

I refer also to the journal of the General Conference of 1848, pp. 164-171, as o
alleged infractions of the Plan of Separation. This is also in Proofs No. 1,
pp. 154-164:

" Infractions of the Plan.

" The attention of the committee has been directed, by sundry memorials submit
ted to their consideration by the General Conference, to numerous infractions of the
provisions of the so-called Plan of Separation, upon the part of the Methodist Episco-


pal Church, South ; and upon this subject present to the Conference the following
statement and facts :

" I. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, has officially and authoritatively
taught the infraction of the Plan by her Convention, her General Conference, her
Bishops, her Annual Conferences, her Elders, and leading Ministers.
" I. The Louisville Convention taught the violation of the Plan.
"In the report on organization, passed Saturday, the 17th of May, 1845, the new
Church is declared to be formed out of the conferences represented in the convention.
(See History of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, p. 186.) But while the
convention in their formal acts of organization, on Saturday, the 17th of May, make
this declaration, we find them on the Monday following passing these resolutions,
(See Western Christian Advocate, vol. xiii, page 42, col. 7,)

"' ' Resolved, That should any portion of an annual conference, on the line of
separation, not represented in this convention, adhere to the Methodist Episcopal
Church, South, according to the Plan of Separation adopted at the late General Con-
ference, and elect delegates to the General Conference of the Church in 1846, upon
the basis of representation adopted by the convention, they shall be accredited as
members of the General Conference.

" Resolved, That, in the judgment of this convention, those societies and stations
on the border, within the limits of conferences represented in this convention, be con-
structively understood as adhering to the South, unless they see proper to take action
on the subject ; and in all such cases, we consider the pastor of the station or society
the proper person to preside in the meeting.'

" Thus, although the convention, in their formal organization, confine themselves
to the original limits ; yet two days after, when the way was prepared for further
inroads, they enlarge the provisions of the Plan, and extend it into the boundaries of
the Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other conferences. And in all societies within the
border where no votes would be taken, these societies must be constructively under-
stood as adhering to the South. Hence their preachers have generally prevented
any voting wherever they could by any means hinder it ; although the Plan of the
General Conference required the societies to vote. The conclusion is, that the con-
vention taught the infraction of the Plan in two very important respects.

" First. They exceed the provisions of the Plan by extending it into the territory
of the Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and other conferences. Thus they teach
to cross the line.

" Secondly. And in all societies where no vote would be taken, they claim them
constructively as belonging to their Church.

" 2. The bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, have taught the infrac-
tion of the Plan.

" Bishop Soule, in his letter dated Lebanon, Ohio, August 4th, 1845, and pub-
lished in the Western Christian Advocate of August 22d, 1845, vol. xiii, p. 75,
col. 2, teaches the breach of the Plan. It is addressed ' to the preachers and border
societies of the Kentucky and Missouri Conferences, and of other conferences bor-
dering upon them.' The bishop here calls on the societies on the Southern verge of
the Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa Conferences, to vote whether they will, or will
not, remain in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Soule, however, makes
these regulatious in reference to his own administration. But this same course was
sanctioned by Bishop Andrew immediately, and afterward by their General Confer-
ence, and by all their bishops. And indeed Bishop Soule, in his letter to the Rev.
Wesley G. Montgomery, dated Nashville, April 30th, 1847, and published in the
Western Christian Advocate of May 21st, 1847, hints broadly enough that minorities
had best be accommodated. He says : ' Minorities on either side of the line of divi-
sion are entitled to a kind and respectful consideration, and should be treated accord-
ingly. And I should think it far better for such minorities, being on the borders, to
receive preachers from the Church to which they desire to adhere, provided they
believe themselves able to support them, than for majorities to be interdicted the
exercise of a right plainly secured to them by the provisions of the law, or rule, in the
case.' Now with this instruction about minorities, as well as the maintenance that
the line is a sliding one, and no limits of time are given in which its sliding opera-
tion ceases, Southern preachers will find little difficulty in passing over any limits
which may be in the way.

"But Bishop Capers' letter to Rev. Mr. Moorman, and published in the Christian


Advocate and Journal of April 21st, 1847, claims all the territory in the slaveholding
States, and this too according to the Plan, or, as he calls it, the ' Deed of Separation.'
Now as Bishop Capers claims all slaveholding territory and Bishop Soule as much
of the territories of the free States as the accommodation of minorities and the slid-
ing line will transfer, it would be difficult indeed to fix any line at all.

" It were useless to insist, in a matter so clear, that the bishops of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, South, have taught officially the violation of the Plan.

" 3. The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, has taught
the infraction of the Plan.

" For proof of this we need go no further than the famous report on the episcopa
cy, in which the Conference sanctions the breaches of the Plan as taught by the con-
vention, and as was taught and practised by Bishops Soule and Andrew, from the
session of the convention in May, 1845, to the session of the Conference in May,
1846. This document will be found in the Western Christian Advocate of June 26th,
1846, and in the Richmond Advocate of May 21st, 1846. The report fully clears
Bishops Soule and Andrew of any blame for occupying Cincinnati, the Kanawha
district, &c., and gives such full latitude of interpretation, that the limitations of the
Plan became a perfect nullity. Our limits will not allow us to quote the report,
but it can be perused in the papers, as cited above, as well as in all the Southern

" 4. The annual conferences, editors, and leading members of the new Church,
maintain the infraction of the Plan in perfect accordance with the acts of their conven-
tion, their General Conference, and their bishops.

" It were useless to make quotations on this point. Their press teems with ap-
proving acts of annual conferences, and the laboured essays and constant admissions
of editors and correspondents, upholding fully their conventional, episcopal, and
General Conference decisions and acts. And from all this there is no dissent in any

" II. The bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in their official admin-
istration, have actually broken the Plan.

" As undoubted and official testimony on this point, we need only quote the report
on this subject, by our excellent and devoted bishops, which, at the request of the
General Conference, they furnished the committee. This official document is as fol-
lows :

" ' To the Committee on the State of the Church.

" ' In compliance with a request of the General Conference, made on the 6th in-
stant, the superintendents present to you such information as they possess in regard
to alleged infractions of the " Plan of Separation," on the part of the constituted
authorities of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, by which the Methodist Epis-
copal Church has been injuriously deprived of portions of its territory and members.
They must be understood as giving the most authentic statements which have come
TO their ears, without vouching their own personal knowledge for the correctness of
every item thus presented. They are, nevertheless, impressed with a conviction of
the truth of the statements generally, as hereinafter made.

" ' They commence first with Baltimore Conference. Within its bounds there is
a portion of the State of Virginia, situated between the Potomac and Rappahannock
Rivers, commonly called the " Northern Neck," embracing the counties of King
George, Westmoreland, Richmond, Northumberland, and Lancaster. These coun-
ties contained the following circuits, (having a membership of eight hundred to a
thousand,) namely, King George, Westmoreland, and Lancaster, each having preach-
ers annually appointed to it from the Baltimore Conference. At different times each
of those circuits determined to attach themselves to the Methodist Episcopal Church,
not as border societies, but as- circuits. To all of them preachers have been sent
from the Virginia Conference, who are there at present, to the exclusion of the min-
isters of the Methodist Episcopal Church. From the conference of 1847 preachers
were sent to this portion of the Baltimore Conference, who found on their arrival
the circuits under the pastoral care of ministers of the Virginia Conference. The
ministers sent from the Baltimore Conference, not being able to have access to
the preaching-places or societies, were withdrawn after suitable time, and sent to
places where they were needed, except one, who was left in charge of the whole
field of labour. At present this place appears on the minutes, " to be supplied."


No minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church is now in this ancient portion of the
Baltimore Conference.

" ' Warrenton circuit has been occupied between one and two years with preachers
from the Virginia Conference ; but as the circuit did not go to the Church, South, in
whole, a portion thereof continuing in the Methodist Episcopal Church, a preacher
from the Baltimore Conference has been continued there. Some of the societies
which voted to go to the Church, South, were strictly border societies, but others also
went which were as strictly interior societies. One of the churches, (Wesley Cha-
pel,) where a majority adhered to the Methodist Episcopal Church, was forcibly en-
tered and new locks were attached to the doors ; and the Church, South, has it in
possession at the present time, unless the civil court has recently decided a suit,
which was instituted for the property, in favour of the Methodist Episcopal

" Harrisonburg, in Rockingham county, Virginia, unquestionably an interior soci-
ety, having by a majority of votes determined to connect themselves with the Metho-
dist Episcopal Church, South, a preacher from the Virginia Conference has been ap-
pointed to labour there. A minority adhering to the Methodist Episcopal Church,
are under the pastoral care of one of its ministers. The church was in a course of liti-
gation a few months since, and probably the case has not been decided by the court.
An attempt was made to get possession of the parsonage in Harrisojiburg for the
Church, South, but with what success there is no information.

" ' Leesburg, a station belonging to the Baltimore Conference, clearly an interior
society, has been visited by a preacher from the Methodist Episcopal Church, South,
much agitation produced in the society and in the community, and a suit at law com-
menced for the church edifice. Whether the effort is still persisted in to occupy this
place is not certainly known. That which makes this case even a glaring one, is the
fact, that the majority of the society voted to adhere to the Methodist Episcopal
Church. There are other instances of the violation of the Plan of Separation, in the
opinion of some equally apparent with the instances given in this paper, of which
more certain information may be obtained from Rev. Messrs. William Hamilton,
N. J. B. Morgan, S. A. Roszel, John Bear, and J. A. Collins, members of this Gene-
ral Conference.

" ' Kanawha District, in the North- West part of Virginia, is a part of Ohio Confer-
ence. In 1845 that work was supplied from the Ohio Conference, as usual. The

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 38 of 87)