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Instead, they determined to honor the scriptural command to "be subject unto the higher powers" Romans —2 as long as Northerners did not resort to an overt attack on slavery, which would have been unconstitutional.

The Forgotten: The Contraband of America and the Road to Freedom

In this way, white Virginia Protestants closely followed the counsels of white Virginia statesmen, most of whom were conditional Unionists. In January a number of Virginia clergymen published an open letter in the state's denominational newspapers counseling against disunion but warning that "if the Southern States of the Union are persistently refused their full rights in the confederation and its common territories, and the protection granted by the Constitution to their peculiar property," then the U.

Constitution would be broken and secession therefore morally viable. Ultimately, many white Virginians found in Lincoln's call for troops sufficient evidence that the Constitution was broken. Once white Virginians witnessed what they regarded as Lincoln's perfidy, in the words of Virginia Presbyterian minister Richard McIlwaine, "the people of Virginia generally flopped over to the other side, became rabid Secessionists and were ready for a fight.

White churchmen of all denominational backgrounds within Confederate Virginia—not just the dominant evangelical Protestants—supported the Southern cause both materially and ideologically, even as black Virginians prayed and worked steadfastly for the defeat of the Confederacy.

He recruited chaplains for Catholic soldiers and, when the "Montgomery Guards" of the 1st Virginia Infantry marched to his cathedral, blessed their weapons and their service. Indeed, Confederate president Jefferson Davis directly encouraged ministers to support the cause by declaring ten different fast days during the course of the war. On these days, he expected Confederate citizens to attend their respective houses of worship and pray for their fledgling nation in comparison, Lincoln declared three such days.

McGuire's comments begin to show the extent to which Virginia's and the Confederacy's leaders succeeded in framing the Civil War as a religious struggle. White churchmen who believed that they were engaged in a holy war sometimes feared that Virginians might not be righteous enough to succeed. Cobb had become convinced that God was using Northern armies to punish white Southerners for their accumulation of "a vast amount of worldly Good[s]" without rendering sufficient thanks to God.

Clerics tried to address this fatalistic turn of white Southern religiosity by arguing that God chastened his chosen people—and that suffering was thereby a sign of white Southerners' special relationship with God, not of their pending defeat. In a widely published sermon in January , Episcopalian Charles Minnigerode preached that "[t]he might and power which our enemies bring against us, are not the might and power of God's spirit, we may be sure—except so far as they are permitted to chasten us for our sins and train us for the hardships of a godly warfare.

Historian Stephen V. Ash has argued that, on an institutional level, the fate of Southern churches during the Civil War depended in large part upon their proximity to the battlefield. In occupied cities and towns where the Union Army was able to provide some measure of security, white clergymen were typically able to keep their churches open during the war as long as they acknowledged the authority of the United States Government.

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When they refused to do so, however, Union officials were quick to shut down their congregations. According to Stewart, "Two sergeants then seized me in the Chancel, and with great violence, holding a revolver at my breast, they forced me out of the Church, and through the streets, with the surplice on, each of them grasping it upon the shoulder so tightly as to leave upon it the marks of their hands.

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In what Ash termed "no-man's land," territory that changed hands between Union and Confederate armies, churchmen had more difficulty keeping their churches open. No security, it turned out, was worse than occupation, and this was true for the rural hinterland around occupied towns as much as it was for areas literally between the armies.

In these increasingly lawless areas, the women, children, and older men who comprised the bulk of white congregants dared not risk travel to distant churches. The secretary of Ebenezer Baptist Church in northern Virginia revealingly noted after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox that "the Church has not met together for up[w]ards of three years and the cause thereof was the ware in thes United States. Whites within the reach of the Union Army faced additional ecclesiastical challenges after December 9, On that date, U. Stanton ordered that clerics from the Northern branch of the Methodist Church could occupy "all houses of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in which a loyal minister, who has been appointed by a loyal Bishop of said Church does not officiate.

Missionaries from the American Baptist Home Mission Society occupied pulpits in the Tidewater region, prompting delegates to the Portsmouth Baptist Association to resolve when they assembled in November , "That we should be recreant to our sacred duty as guardians of the truth, if we did not, as Baptists, and as an Association, enter out solemn protest against such action as thoroughly unbaptistic and subversive of the doctrine of church independence. Even in these locations, however, churches faced massive disruptions caused by the absence of white male members and the increasing resistance of black members.

African Americans in biracial or white-controlled congregations saw the arrival of Union troops as an opportunity. They also welcomed the Northern missionaries whom white Virginians despised, usually as teachers but sometimes as spiritual leaders. When he took the pulpit of Bute Street Methodist Church, a community of more than eight hundred African American members technically under the control of whites from the MECS, Wayman took as his text Genesis , "I seek my brethren.

The AME also enjoyed success at recruiting new churches in Portsmouth, but their good fortune was rare. The overwhelming majority of black Virginia churchgoers were Baptist, and they typically steered clear of Northern organizers, started their own congregations, and accepted from Northern missionaries only scholastic instruction and material assistance. Black Baptists in the churches that had been semiautonomous before the war, with a black membership and white pastor, were among the first to gain their independence.

In some cases, members of the Union Army helped these congregations acquire title to their property, which was held in trust by white Virginians. Black Virginians also formed numerous new congregations during the war. In , for example, George Corprew, a free black living near Portsmouth who had accumulated some money and property before the war, donated the land for what became Divine Baptist Church.

Whites ultimately accepted separation as desirable, but they initially expressed uncertainty about how to respond to black churches. A statewide committee of white Baptists pledged in June to investigate how emancipation would affect ecclesiastical relations.

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They frankly acknowledged the following year: "The sudden and radical changes which have taken place in the relations which existed between the white and colored people, politically and socially, have so changed the aspect of things, so as to make it difficult, with the little experience which has followed, to determine what course is best to be pursued. For most black Virginians, the thrill of personal freedom outweighed even the headiness of ecclesiastical independence.

Most enslaved people had prayed for emancipation and for the success of Union armies. His retreat before assuming possession of the Marseilles see reveals his still-felt distaste at what was being thrust upon him. His ministry would bring him to confront many obstacles: his perceived lack of holiness, a diocese that largely did not understand the episcopal ministry, and an unusually independent and notably adversarial clergy.

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His first pastoral letter is dated Christmas day; it echoes his concern for the great pastoral responsibility that a new episcopal ordinary assumes for his people, an obligation not to be taken lightly since he will ultimately appear before the throne of God. His accomplishments over the next decades, however, would reveal how he grew into the vocation and how much he was able to accomplish, always relying on divine assistance. A persistent cholera pandemic had established itself in different areas of France by The first Marseilles case that was reported in early December began to subside by the end of the following April; it reemerged with a vengeance at midsummer for several more months before once again subsiding.

The disease again developed in for a short time, and yet again in The dense mid-city population and poor sanitation of Marseilles meant that the disease, once reemerged, could quickly spread and victimize its population with virtually no knowledge of vaccination and no access to antibiotic treatments that modern readers take for granted. God was always my help, and so not for me is the palm, so much desired, of the martyrdom of charity. God will be my sole reward, as he is already my sole strength, my only hope.

While being delayed near Paris awaiting the birth of his nephew, he wrote to Tempier:.

Religion during the Civil War

He writes in several letters to reassure his readers that he is doing well without significantly changing things such as ministry schedule or even modifying his diet as was commonly done, [28] despite reporting to another that more than one hundred Marseillais had died the previous day. One might become convinced in this love only in retrospect.

God works through the strengths of our personality, while, often through the same experiences, seeking to refine the weaknesses. Joseph T. The Christian theologian and social ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr, an influential figure on the 20th-century American intellectual, political and religious scene, often turned to Lincoln as the model of a political leader -- "my hero in religion and in statecraft" -- who resisted the temptation to identify God with his own causes and who understood both the religious dimension and the moral drama inherent in human history.

Lincoln's theological understanding of the Civil War, Niebuhr believed, was greater than that of any preacher or religious thinker of the time, and he described the president as a "theologian of American anguish. How would you describe President Lincoln's political and spiritual achievements?

How would you characterize him religiously? How would you describe Lincoln's God? How did his idea of God change over the course of the war? What surprises you about Lincoln's religious views and moral vision?

Compare them with those of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. One modern writer has called Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address "the most eloquent response to the virus of religious self-importance ever written. By the time he delivered it in , how had Lincoln come to understand God's role in the Civil War and in American history?

What do you hear in his rhetoric about the need for the war and at the same time the need for forgiveness and reconciliation? Historian Allen Guelzo says that many came to believe God was "doing something new in this war.

The American Civil War - Origins, Slavery, States Rights, Lincoln, Fort Sumter

Why did freedom for African Americans mean freedom for everyone? What role did evangelical Christianity play in the abolitionist movement? The "Battle Hymn of the Republic" can still be found in many church hymnals. Its words continue to be sung, and they are also heard in sermons and patriotic speeches.

How do you think they speak to Americans today? Themes of sacrifice and redemption were important during the Civil War.

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