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     Editor's Note: This section is extractions from the history of the association concerning its recorded comments on slavery. Slaves were members of their churches; that is why they feel compelled to address the matter. Jim Duvall

Slavery Issues in the Broad River Baptist Association (NC)
By John R. Logan, 1887

[p. 49]


      At this session a package of pamphlets was handed in from the Colonization Society, which was promptly rejected.

      Remarks. - The abolition of slavery was then being greatly agitated throughout the whole northern portion of the country, consequently Southern slave-owners would look upon a package of that kind as comparable to a fire-brand or bomb-shell thrown in among them by an enemy, not only to destroy the institution of slavery, but to destroy the peace and quietude of a large portion of the Southern churches and people. It might well be expected by the Northern agitators that the Southern people would resist even unto death so gross an interference with their chartered constitutional rights. But, says the anti-slavery party, the members of the colonization society did not contemplate the abolition of slavery by any legal enactment, or by any change in the fundamental law of the country - they only intended the gradual emancipation of the slaves by the consent of their owners, and in that way relieve the Southern people of what they considered a growing evil to them. While the nation would thereby be relieved of the damning sin of slavery, which acted as a blot as they alleged upon our professions of republican freedom and the equal rights of mankind. Our brethren, however, were sensitive as to their vested rights, and were fully aware of the approaching crusade against them. The abolition or destruction of the institution of slavery had been unmistakably decreed, "peaceably if we can, or forcibly if we must," and therefore if a scheme of apparent mildness was first put forward for the purpose and proved insufficient, it only paved the way or served as an entering wedge for something more efficient, which the agitators

[p. 50]
would never fail to bring forward, bearing direction on the mooted question at issue.

[p. 51]


     So strange was the state of feeling existing at that time between the North and South on the slavery question, that even Christian courtesies were withheld. It is possible that angels may sometimes be entertained unawares. We know of our own personal knowledge that Dr. [Samuel] Wait attended this meeting of the Association, and preached several good sermons under the requests of the people, sent up to the body through the committee on religious exercises. [Editor's note: Wait's presence was not recognized in the minutes.]

[p. 53]

      After the usual routine of associational business was transacted, the following preamble and resolutions were introduced and discussed at some length and unanimously adopted by the body, viz:

"WHEREAS, the Abolitionists in the Northern States have circulated certain incendiary pamphlets, prejudicial to the interests of the South, and the same are calculated to create much disturbance in our Christian community, inasmuch as such productions have been sent to ministers and private members of churches, contrary to their wishes and without their consent; and whereas, ministers of the Gospel are liable, in this way, to have their usefulness much diminished in a community whose feelings are hostile to such sentiments. Therefore

Resolved, That this Association disclaim all communion with those engaged in sending abroad productions so corrupt and poisonous, and that we will in future look with indignation and contempt upon any such efforts as are calculated to disturb the best interests find peace of our country, and we recommend the same course to our churches and sister associations."

      Remarks. - The abolition troubles were being gradually and insidiously pushed along by designing abolition politicians, and also by those in many instances professing to be the ministers of peace and reconciliation through the cross of Christ. The leaven was steadily at work which eventually brought about the emancipation of negro slavery and one of the bloodiest of wars recorded any where in the annals of the country, - a weighty responsibility which rests somewhere, and in the great day of accounts the guilty parties will have but a poor opportunity to dodge it.

[p. 112]


      The war between the States having closed, and reconstruction now going on by the general government, to meet the peculiar wants and necessities of both the white and colored races in their present anomalous condition, as well religiously as civilly and politically, a committee had been appointed on Colored People, of which Elder J. C. Burge was Chairman, who reported: That after some deliberation on the subject, they recommended the adoption by the Association of the report of the committee on "the instruction of the colored people," passed by the Baptist State Convention at its last session, which was as follows:

The committee on the Instruction of the Colored People beg leave to report that they have given the subject the most serious consideration, and only regret that they cannot perform the duty devolved upon them by the Convention in a manner more satisfactory to themselves. They are compelled, with little experience, to speak upon a point, the solution of which requires much experience.

The churches of our State, as well as the whole South, find themselves unexpectedly in the midst of the greatest social changers which the history of the world presents. While Rome, in the plentitude of her power, judged it for the public safety to restrain within certain limits the exercise by her citizens of the right to emancipate their slaves, and thus allowed this work to go on by degrees, in our land the tearful experiment of emancipation has been made on the broadest scale, and with the suddenness and violence of an earthquake. The work thus done - whether just or unjust, whether wise or foolish - is finally done. No Southern man dreams of a reversal of this act of the government. To us, as good citizens and christians, the only questions left are, What are the duties which arise out of our changed relations, and how may we best perform them? To one class of these duties the attention of the Convention has been called by the resolution under which your committee was appointed, viz: Our Obligation in regard to the instruction of the colored people. In the times gone by that duty was recognized and acted upon imperfectly indeed, as all religious duty is, in the hands of imperfect man, and under certain disadvantages. These disadvantages arose from laws in our State, at least, which prohibited all but oral instruction, and which were intended to prevent the danger that might spring from inflammatory publications, which fanatical zeal was aiming to circulate among the slave population of the South. These laws were, in fact, disapproved by many of the best people of the

[p. 113]
State, as being unwise in policy and liable to still more serious objections: yet, with the law-abiding spirit of our people, they had the effect of diminishing the amount 01 instruction in letters which the colored people had received, and which they would have continued to receive. Still many slaves did learn to read, and their instruction of each other and sometimes by the children of the family, was not unfrequently winked at by their masters who, but for the law, would themselves have instructed or would have encouraged their children to instruct the blacks.

As matters now stand, no legal instructions now lie in the way of teaching the colored people; and it is a plain duty of Christians to make efforts or to foster and encourage efforts made to enable the colored people to read, especially that they may read that blessed Book whose truths, understood and practiced, constitute the only sure basis of the peace and prosperity of society as they do of the true welfare, present and future, of the individual man.

In almost every family, and upon farms and plantations generally, something can be done to teach the younger negroes and such of the older ones as may be willing to learn. The performance of this labor, as a gratuity, by the former owners of the freed people or by the junior members of the families, would greatly tend to restore the confidence once felt by the slaves in their masters. We say the former confidence, for in many instances it has been apparent that, as in the case of the Christian of Galatia and the Apostle Paul, a rude shock has been given to the previously existing confidence by the perverting instructions of persons claiming indeed to be the special friends of the negro, but with no professed love for the Southern white man, and with little real love for the black.

In many cases this impression, we have reason to know, has, in a good degree, been corrected. Justice and kindness exercised toward the blacks in their new relations have so far served to dispel a mischievous delusion. To restore that confidence between the employed and their employers, which is so necessary to public quiet and domestic peace, few things would operate more powerfully than a cordial readiness to aid them in gaining the advantage to be derived from the knowledge of letters.

As to the particular modes in which instruction may be imparted to them, it is scarcely necessary to say anything. Of course the colored Sunday school will prove a valuable instrument tor accomplishing this work; as to other schools and the methods of imparting instruction, the circumstances of each case will have to be considered in determining the best mode: only let what is done be done in such a manner as will enable the pupil to learn, and then let the Scriptures be put into his hands. Let the New Testament be made a text-book, and then while the learner feels that he is enjoying liberty in one of its highest forms he will also be learning to use that liberty as not to abuse it.

But much of the instruction of the blacks, as of the whites, emenates from the pulpit, and therefore the question before us involves the consideration of the future church relations of the colored people.

[p. 114]
There is reason to believe that in certain localities and under certain circumstances they will prefer to be organized into separate churches. Where this is strongly felt, and there is any probability of their being able to maintain public worship among themselves, it seems to your committee the better plan to give them letters of dismission, to aid them in forming churches of their own, and then to assist them, either by allowing them the use of the house of worship or helping them to build. In churches thus formed there would often exist a need for aid in keeping their records, and this service kindly rendered to them by a white brother would doubtless be appreciated by them. In like manner they might be induced, in thus setting up for themselves, to seek the services of white ministers. We do not see why, in the same neighborhood - oftentimes at the same house of worship - there might not be two churches (one white and one colored,) having the same ministerial supply, but each one transacting its business independently. Unless some such arrangement as this be made, it is to be apprehended that the colored people will suffer greatly; for there are very few of the colored men who are received as preachers from whom any but meager religious instructions can be obtained. Should any of these become infected with a fanatical and disorganizing spirit, it is easy to see how much they might mislead their class, and of what wide-spread mischief they might become the authors.

In other cases it may be found that the colored members of our churches will prefer to go on as they are. In such cases there would be a manifest propriety in allowing things to proceed in their customary channel until such time as they, themselves shall, of their own accord, seek separation and a distinct organization.

Should colored churches be thus formed it will be very important to have the minds of their members impressed with the necessity of guarding against the hasty admission of members, and especially against the introduction of incompetent and otherwise unsuitable men into the ministry. Let them be taught the qualifications for the sacred office, authoritatively laid down in the word of God, and induced to secure the counsel of judicious white brethren in deciding upon the claims of such as may seek licensure or ordination. It has sometimes been done that colored men, licensed by their churches to preach, have derived great advantage from occasional instruction afforded them by neighboring pastors. The same thing may be profitably repeated in our present circumstances.

Your committee beg leave to submit the following resolutions:

Resolved, 1st, That in our present circumstances there seems to be no one special plan for the general instruction of the colored people which can confidently be pronounced the best, and that each case must be decided upon its own merits.

Resolved, 2d, That where the colored people prefer to remain in their present church connexions, it will be better for them so to do provided, they studiously avoid occasions of irritation and offence.

Resolved, 3d, That where the colored members become restive

[p. 115]
from the continuance of such relations, it will he wise regularly to dismiss them for the constitution of separate churches, to aid them by kind counsels, and as far as practicable other means, and to persuade them to secure for themselves the benefits of all intelligent ministry,

Resolved, 4th, That colored Sunday schools which have for many years been conducted in some parts of the South ought, in the opinion of the committee, to be established wherever it is practicable; and that it is a worthy Christian work for white brethren and sisters to engage in the conduct and instruction of such Sunday schools.

J. C. Furman, Chairman.
      Remarks. - The social changes produced by the war being of a character so extraordinary, and presenting as they did so many difficulties in regard to the proper course of religious instruction on the part of the churches toward the black race, we thought it advisable and proper to give the able report of the State Convention, which seemed to meet the approbation of the Broad River Association, and was consequently adopted by that body. The Convention at that time "could only shoot a bow at a venture," not knowing fully what course the colored people would prefer to take. It was however soon found out that "Sambo" would hearken to the advice of the fanatical Carpet-bagger of the North much quicker than he would to those who had of long standing been his spiritual advisers at the South. The Carpetbagger, immediately after peace was made, proceeded on his errand of mercy to visit the "man and brother" that had so long been bound with the shackles and fetters of slavery. Having found him, he ate with him, drank with him, persuaded him, and told him that those, and only those, who struggled to liberate him were bis true friends, and no others, and especially those who once held him in servitude could not be trusted as counselors. He must ignore all the kind proffers made by those who once controlled his labor; that such "hollow-hearted hypocrites" only awaited an opportunity to "put him back in the rice swamps and cotton fields as a laboring slave." It is very natural that a poor, uncultured darkey, operated on in this way, would soon, imbibe strong prejudices against those who were really his best friends, but he was too much blinded and stupid to see it.

     The sequel has shown the course preferred by the colored

[p. 116]
people. They prefer to have their own church and associational organizations, and we concur fully with them in that. As social equality is never once to be thought of, much less desired, it is certainly the best for them and the white race also to have their separate organizations. It is a commendable thing, however, for the white race to aid them in the establishment of schools of a high order for the training of ministers to lead them from the sinks of superstition and fanaticism, which we are glad to see is being done. We hope to see a continuance of the good work, and a corresponding improvement of the colored race, until it will no longer be said that "negro meetings are nuisances." This will be soonest done by educating the negro race to meet the requirements of the times. In some localities we are glad to see it has been done, and we take that as prima facie evidence it can be done generally if the proper impetus is given.

[From John R. Logan, Sketches, Historical and Biographical, of the Broad River and King's Mountain Baptist Associations, (NC) From 1800 to 1882, 1887. Document from Google Books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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