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doubtful kindness. When that sturdy Vermonter,
Bishop Chase, went to live in New Orleans, he was
compelled to purchase his negro Jack, because he could
not obtain a servant in any other way. But having
ended his residence there, he was at his wit's end to
know what to do with Jack.^ Northern Churchmen
knew that their brethren in the South were not alto-
gether unmindful of the religious welfare of their slaves.
They knew that in South Carolina there were a hundred
and fifty congregations of negroes for a hundred of
whites ; ^ that the Bishop of Virginia had preached his
Convention Sermon upon the duty owed by the whites
to negroes ; that thousands of them were regular and
faithful communicants.

1 Johns : Life of Bishop Meade, p. 492.

2 lb., p. 237.
8 lb., p. 47G.

4 Caswall : American Church and Union, p. 276.

5 Chase: Reminiscences, vol. i. p. 75.

6 Cas\vall: p. 273.


All these things did not change their opinion of
slavery. It was bad, only bad, and that continually.
But this mutual understanding and sympathy kept the
Church together while the Union lasted, and brought it
together again as soon as that was restored.

In 1860 it became evident that a slave-holding people

and a free people would not live in the same house,

Couthern ^^^ when secession was fii^st proposed it was

bishops op- strenuously resisted by the leading: Southern

pose seces- " .

sion. bishops. The Bishop of Virginia used his

great influence against it.^ The Bishop of Maryland

was still more outspoken, and remained steadfast to the

Union through all.^ In its defence he sacrificed the

love of lifelong friends, and nearl}^ broke his heart.

Otey of Tennessee wrote to Bishop Polk, " It is God

alone that can still the madness of the people. To

what quarter shall we look when such men as you and

Elliott deliberately favor secession ? What can we

expect, other than violence among the masses, when

the fathers of the land openly avow their determination

to destroy the work which their fathers established at

the expense of their blood ? " ^

But when secession became a political fact, the

Southern Churchmen maintained that it carried with it

ecclesiastical separation. They contended tliat they

had no choice. When the States in which they lived

went out of the Union, they bore the Church with them

1 Johns: Life of Bishop Meade, p. 402. "You see that I atn almost
in despair. I am told that our clergy in Charleston preach in favor of
disunion. I fear some of our bishops consent, or why have I heard of no
remonstrance? "

2 Brand: Life of Bishop Whittingham, vol. ii. pp. 11, 20.

3 (Ireen : Life of Bishop Otey, p. <J0.


as really as a ship bears her company out to sea. To
their minds the separation was as complete as though a
Southern physical chasm had sudvlenly yawned between
idea of the ^1 ^^T^j.^]^ aj^(j tije South.i Bishops Polk

Church and ^ ^ ^

the States. and Elliott say in a circular letter, " This

necessity does not arise out of an}^ division which has
occurred within the Church itself, nor from any dissat-
isfaction Avitli either the doctrine or discipline of the
Church. We rejoice to record that we are to-day, as
Churchmen, as truly brethren as we have ever been, and
that no deed has been done, or word uttered, which leaves
a single wound rankling in any breast." The Southern
Churchmen had retained the original idea that the
general Church was made by a voluntary compact of
autonomous State Churches, long after that idea had
faded out of mind in the North. Bishop Meade had
not taken kindly to the General Missionary Society,
and had opposed the General Seminary for this very
reason. They seemed to him to be movements toward
a centralization which he believed to be contrary both
to the spirit and the policy of the Church.^ When the
States seceded one by one, the Cliurches within them
reverted to their primitive diocesan independence.
No violent revolution in their ecclesiastical ideas was
needed to bring them into harmony with their new
situation. When the States confederated themselves
into a new nation, it was the most natural thing for the
dioceses to confederate themselves into a new Church,

1 Wilmer: The Recent Past, p. 2'2(>.

'* As if an abyss liad suddenly yawned between the two sections."

2 Jolins: Life of Bisliop Meade, pp. lOH, 504.


All their previous habits of thought made the way easy
for them.^

When the General Convention met in New York in

1862, the chasm had opened between the two sections,

and war was ah^eady raging. The Southern

Secession. ^^^^^^^^^ ...gre absent. What should the

Church do in this new exigency?

Once, long before, the delegates from a geographical
section had been absent. A belt of yellow fever had
cut off New England from the other States. At that
time, the Church had accepted the physical explana-
tion, and proceeded without the absent brethren. The
same thing was done now. The Convention tacitly
adopted the same theory which had controlled the
action of the Southern dioceses. There was a physical
obstacle in the way of their coming. But every day the
roll of all the States was called.^ The delegates might
come and take their seats if they would or could. The
possibiUty of any diocese being voluntarily absent was
icruored. By the next triennial Convention they had re-
turned. The General Convention continued to act as
the representative of the Protestant Episcopal Church
in the United States. The Nation did not acknowledge
that any States had gone ; no more did the Church.

But it was confronted with the question of what was
its duty to the Nation in this its hour of
Indthe'''^''^ need. The deliverance of a body so influ-
^"'°°- ential as the Episcopal Church would carry

weight, and was anxiously looked for. It was given
without hesitation in favor of the Union. A committee

» Green: Life of Bishop Otey, p. 121.
•■2 General (^.onvontion Jmu-nal, 1862.


of nine was appointed to prepare a fitting declaration.^
When reported and adopted, after long and earnest dis-
cussion, it set forth : That obedience to civil authority
is a Christian's duty and a Churchman's habit; that
while the Convention had no hard words for its breth-
ren in the South, it could not be blind to the fact that
they were " in open and armed resistance to regularly
constituted government ; " that as individual citizens
the members of the Convention will not be found
wanting in word or deed to aid the country in its
struofo-le : that as the council of a Church which hath
ever renounced all political action, they can only pray
that the National Government may be successful in this
its rightful endeavor.

A lay deputy from Maryland opposed the action, on
the ground that a Church council may not concern itself
in any way with political questions. The Presiding
Bishop, Hopkins of Vermont, took the same position,
and refused to read the Pastoral Letter which expressed
the same general sentiment of patriotism.^ These ob-
jections were brushed aside. The issue was felt to be
moral rather than political. Ecclesiastical precisians
could not be heard upon it. The whole weight of the
Church's influence, which was not small, was given to
the Union side throughout the struggle. In the very
darkest hour, when it became almost a matter of life or
death to change the drift of English sympathy from the
Southern to the Northern side. Bishop MTlvaine was
one of the ambassadors at large to the English people,

1 General Convention Journal, 18f)2.

2 Brand: Life of Bishop AVhittingliam, vol. ii. p. 32.


chosen and informally accredited by President Lincoln.
Together with Thurlow Weed, Henry Ward Beecher, and
Archbishop Hughes, he went to England. He had enter-
tained the Prince of Wales while visiting this country,
and was well known among that class who most needed
to be set right upon the true nature of the conflict.
Few men effected more for the Union cause than did
the Bishop of Ohio by this embassage.^

Meanwhile the absent dioceses had organized the

Church in the Confederate States.^ Its leaders were

Polk, the Bishop of Louisiana, and Elliott, the Bishop

of Georgia. The Bishop of Virginia v/as

The Church . ^ . i ,

in the Con- with them now in sympathy, but he wa.s old

e eracy. ^^_^^ ^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^^ j^^ March of 1861 Polk and

Elliott met at Sewannee, Tenn., on business connected
with the University of the South. By that time South
Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisi-
ana, and Texas had seceded. The Church in each w^as
an ecclesiastical fragment, floating in space. They were
only more fortunate than the colonists had been at the
close of the Revolution, in that they had diocesan or-
ganizations and bishops. Some one must volunteer to
lead them if they were to confederate. Polk and Elliott
took up the task. They addressed a circular letter, ask-
ing each seceded diocese to send delegates to a con-
ference to be held at Montgomery, Ala., in July. In
response to their call thirty delegates came. Four
bishops were present, Elliott of Georgia, Green of

' Dyer: Records of an Active Life. p. 280.

- The material for this sketch of the Church in the Confederate States
is chietiy taken from a monograph of that title by the Rev. Dr. John
Fulton in Perry's History of the American Church, vol. ii. pp. 561-592.


Mississippi, Rutledge of Florida, and Davis of South
Carolina. Cobbs of Alabama had just died; Otey of
Tennessee was ill ; Meade of Virginia was old and
infirm ; Atkinson of North Carolina did not respond ;
Gregg of Texas was cut off by the blockade ; Polk had
entered the Confederate Army. Six dioceses were rep-
resented by clergy or laymen. All three orders sat in
one House. There were no rules, in the nature of the
case. The Convention was not a Church, but the
material out of which one might be framed. They
agreed that it was '' necessary and expedient " that the
dioceses of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the
seceded States should form among themselves an inde-
pendent organization. It was urged that the eyes of
the Confederacy were upon them, and that they owed
the new government the moral support which they could
give it by acting as if they expected it to be
abiding. An ecclesiastical reason also pressed.
Alabama was without a bishop. If it should elect a man
to that office, as was likely, who would take order for
his consecration? The situation was difficult. The
Convention w^as not large enough or representative
enough to go forward to a complete organization ; it
was too large and too conspicuous to go back and leave
nothing done. They therefore took a recess until the
following October, appointing a committee, of three of
each order, to prepare a constitution and canons mean-
while. When October came, all the States in the Con-
federacy were represented save Texas, and all the
bishops present except General Polk. Then they went
forward and adopted the constitution and canons, sul>


stantially the same as those they had been familiar with
in the general Church, thus perfecting the Church in
the Confederacy. The name of '' Reformed Catholic "
was proposed for the new organization, but failed of
adoption. Following the guidance of existing facts, as
the Conference in Maryland had done eighty years
before, they called it the '' Protestant Episcopal Church
in the Confederate States of America." The Prayer-
Book was changed by substituting Confederate States
for United States throughout.^ Arkansas, then a Mis-
sionary Jurisdiction of the old Church, was admitted as
a diocese in the new one. Shortly afterward Alabama
elected Dr. R. H. Wilmer to be its bishop. This com-
pelled the new Church to discharge the functions of a
General Council. The consent of the several standing
committees was secured, and the senior bishop in the
Confederacy took order for his consecration. In all
respects the new organization proceeded to act as a
national Church.

But in the daily life of its members it encountered
grave difficulties. Apart from the hardships and priva-
Confederate tions which arose from their territory being
Church and ^^^^ g^^^ ^f ^^r, their liturgical worship

Federal au- . ,

thorities. brought them constantly nito conflict with
the Federal miUtary authorities. Their Liturgy put
into their mouths words of prayer for the Confederacy
instead of for the United States and its President. Its

1 Dr. Fulton calls attention to the curious fact that in the only edition
of this Prayer-Book ever published (by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London),
the words United States remained by an oversight in the Forms of Prayer
to be Used at Sea. So that aboard the " Alabama " (if the company prayed
at all) they must pray, " That we may be a safeguard to the United States
of America, and a security for such as pass on the seas on their lawful
occasions " 1


use put them at a disadvantage as compared with the
other Christian people in the Confederacy. The Romish
Liturgy, being in a language not understanded of the
people, and recognizing no ruler but the Pope, could be
used in the United States or in the Confederacy or in
the planet Jupiter with equal fitness. Non-Liturgical
clergymen could avoid words of constructive treason by
any periphrases they chose. If their petitions were
only intelligible by God, they need not offend any
earthly authority. But Churchmen were in an evil
case. If they held public worship at all, they must
offend. To use the prayers for the rulers or to omit
them was equally dangerous. In 1862 General Butler
issued an order that *' the omission, in the service of
the Protestant Episcopal Church in New Orleans, of
the Prayers for the President of the United States,
would be regarded as evidence of hostility to the Gov-
ernment of the United States." In a lens^thy

General ° '^

Butler as a correspondence which ensued, tlie general un-
dertook to show the clergy what the Canon
Law required in the premises. His canonical knowl-
edge was equal to his military skill. But the discussion
was terminated by the forcible closure of the churches.
The rectors were arrested and sent North as military
prisoners, but upon their arrival at New York were at
once set at liberty. Similar conflicts were constantly
occurring as the Federal forces gained control of more
and more territory. Dr. Wingfield of Portsmouth, Va.,
was condemned to the chain-gang for a similar offence.
Dr. Smith of Alexandria was arrested in his chancel
for refusing to use the Prayer for the President of the


United States at the command of a military officer who
was present.^ General Woods inhibited the Bishop and
all the clergy of Alabama. For a time, the churches in
that State were closed, and armed guards stationed at
the doors to keep them from being opened.^ The Bishop
was followed to his retreat by an officer instructed to
see that he should pray for the President of the United
States. One of his clergy consented to use the prayer
for the President, but " under protest I " ^ A letter
from the Bishop to President Lincoln produced an
immediate revocation of the obnoxious order. Such
instances might be multiplied indefinitely. The Church
in the South had set itself in antagonism to the United
States by the very fact of its existence. Its raison
d'etre was the assumption that certain States had
actually withdrawn from the Union. From the North-
ern point of view, they not only had not gone
Confederate out, but by attempting to do so they had
committed a flagrant offence. The Church
became particeps criminis in the offence. Its Liturgy
made it impossible for it to evade the consequences of
its original act of organization. The only final justifica-
tion of revolution is success. In this case success was
wanting. In its absence, all concerned in the attempt
bore their share of the awful cost of failure. None bore
it with a better grace or a more patient dignity than the
short-lived Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confed-
erate States.

1 Slaughter: Memorial of the Rev. George Archibald Smith, p. 41.

2 Wilmer: The Recent Past, p. 146.

3 The Bishop, very properly, wonders what would be the precise effect
of such a prayer ?




In the spring of 1865 the Confederacy ceased to be.
With its dissolution the reason for the Southern Church
passed away. Tiieir contention from the first had been
that, being cut off from the United States by no act of
their own, the dioceses in the seceded States simply
conformed to existing facts in organizing a new church.
Now, on their own principles, their Church's place
was gone. Their Prayer-Book was obsolete. There
was no longer any '' President of the Confederate
States " to pray for if they had wished it. But it was
not so clear that they had been borne back involunta-
rily into the Protestant Episcopal Church by the reflux
of the tide. They might not be willing to resume their
long vacant places ; the Church might not be willing to
receive them. They had gone out because a political
chasm separated the two sections. That gulf

Moving .1 • 1 1 1

toward was now closcd, but not until it had been

reunion. ^^^^ ^^-^^^ human blood. Fortunately old
friendships still held. The Presiding Bishop, Hopkins
of Vermont, and Bishop Elliott of Georgia, the leader in
the Southern Church, were more than brethren. Their
old affection for each other was unbroken. Elliott
clearly discerned the situation. " We appealed," he
said, ''to the God of battles, and He has given II in


decision against us. We accept the result as the work,
not of man, but of God." ^ In this temper he was ready
to work for peace and unity. But all were not of his
mind. Chagrin, humiliation, apprehension, and anger
were common among his people. The unhappy " recon-
struction " period had set in. Military governors were
still in occupation of the late seceded States. Bishop
Hopkins, with the knowledge and consent of his breth-
ren, sent a circular letter to all the Southern Bishops,
assuring them of a welcome if they would take their
places in the approaching General Convention in Octo-
ber. Bishop Wilmer of Alabama expressed the senti-
ment both of his own State and Mississippi ^ when he
replied that it was by no means clear as yet that the
Southern dioceses might not retain their separate posi-
Obstacies in ^^^^^ ' ^^^^^ would depend upon circumstances
the way. pQ^ jq^ determined ; ^ that they could not
come back as supplicants for pardon ; that human pas-
sions were facts which must be taken account of ; that
the best men in the South were yet under the ban as
traitors ; that their representative man might yet be
hanged ; that all would depend upon the spirit shown by
the General Convention itself when it should meet; that
they could abide the result of the war, but could not
yet join in Te Deuma over their own defeat.

Apart from the sore temper on the one hand, and the
triumphant one on the other, there were grave difficul-
ties to be adjusted. The Bisliop of Alabama had been

1 Perry: History, vol. ii. p. 339.

2 Wilmer: The Recent Past, p. 1G6.

3 lb., p. 155.


elected aiicl consecrated outside of the Church's rules.
Arkansas had been taken from the missionary jurisdic-
tion of the Southwest, and erected into a diocese.
Worst of all, Bishop Polk of Louisiana had broken
Catholic rule and violated Christian sentiment by tak-
ing arms. But his name was dear in the
IS op . gQ^|-]-j^ ^ graduate of West Point, he had
been almost forced into command at a time when com-
petent leaders were hard to find. He had assumed the
duty most reluctantly.^ But he was urged on every
hand. Even the old Bishop of Virginia had called to
his mind, wdien he hesitated, that " the conduct of
Pliinehas was so praiseworthy that the inspired David
says it was accounted to him for righteousness through
all posterities for evermore ; and did not Samuel, the
minister of God from his infancy, lead forth the hosts
of Israel to battle, and with his own hand slay the king
of Amalek ? " ^ He had taken up the sword against his
will, and sought in vain to be allowed to lay it down.^
At Pine Mountain he had fallen, and his blood had
discolored the Prayer-Book in his pocket, and half
washed out of it the names, written by his own hand,
of his three friends, Johnson, Hood, and Hardee.^ Any
suggestion of censure upon the conduct of the dead
could not be borne.

All these things made the Southern people hesitate.
They needed not to have done so. When the General
Convention met at Philadelphia in October, 1865, the

' Fulton, in Perry: History, vol. ii. p. 581.

2 Green: Life of Bishop Otey, p. 96.

3 lb., p. 100.

4 Fulton, in Perry: History, vol. ii. p. 583.


clerk of the House of Deputies began with -Alabama"
in calUng the roll of dioceses. The roll had never been
changed. Alabama and the other Confed-
vlTno'f"" erate^States had only been absent from one
^°^^- meeting, and their names had never been re-

moved. To the g^eneral gratification of all, two South-
ern bishops, Atkinson of North Carolina, and Lay of
Arkansas, were present at the opening service. They
came, doubting both their right and their welcome.i
They were hospitably entreated and constrained to
take their places. The Convention acted on the dreaded
questions with good-sense and generosity. It was re-
solved that the Bishop of Alabama should be received
upon signing the ordinary declaration of conformity .2
No quesUon was raised about the regularity of his con-
secration. The case of Arkansas had settled itself.
Its short life as a diocese had been destroyed by the
ravages of war. The Church within it was practically
extinct. Bishop Lay had been all the while, in spite of
himself, the missionary bishop of the Southwest. In
that capacity his place was still open. The career of
Bishop Polk was not referred to. He was dead. But
the harmony came near being destroyed by an un-
expected means. The House of Bishops proposed a
thanksgiving service for "the restoration of peace and
» nion t^^e re-establishment of the National Govern-
imperiUsd. nient over the whole land." The Bishop of
North Carolina protested that his people could not say
that. They acquiesced in the result of the war, and

1 Harrison: Life of Bishop Kerfoot, vol. ii. p. 391.

2 General Convention Journal, 1865.


would accommodate themselves to it like good citizens ;
but they were not thankful. They had prayed that the
issue might have been different. They were ready to
" return thanks for peace to the country, and unity to
the Church; " but that was a different matter. Bishop
Stevens of Pennsylvania moved to substitute the South-
ern man's words for the ones in the resolution offered.
His motion was carried by sixteen to seven. ^ When
the amended resolution was offered in the House of
Deputies, Horace Binney of Pennsylvania moved to
restore the original phrase ofivinof thanks

Horace & i & &

Binney's " for the rc-establishment of the National

Government over the whole land," and to

add to it " and for the removal of the great occasion of

national dissension and estrangement to which our late

troubles were due " (referring to slavery ).2 A storm

of discussion at once arose, both within and without the

Convention. The secular press of the country took up

the matter; declared that the loyalty of the Church

itself was upon trial ; that it dare not refuse to pass Mr.

Binney's patriotic resolution ; that too much tenderness

had already been shown to '' unreconstructed rebels."

Dr. Kerfoot, President of Trinity College, came to the

rescue.^ He liad been, all through the war, a Union man

in a place where his loyalty had cost him sometliing.

His college in Maryland had been well-nigh destroyed.

He had tended the wounded at Antietam and South

Mountain, battles fought at his very door. He luid

1 Pen-y: History, vol. ii. p. 502.

'^ General Convention Journal, 18U5.

« Harrison: Life of P>isliop Kerfoot, vol. ii. p. 393, et seq.


been seized a prisoner by General Early's order. His
goods had been destroyed by the Confederate soldiery.
He, if any one, had the right to speak. His own loyalty

Online LibrarySamuel David McConnellHistory of the American Episcopal Church → online text (page 25 of 32)