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Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions at the
Beginnning of the American Civil War - 1861

By Samuel Boykin, 1881

[p. 285]
In May, 1861, the Southern Baptist Convention met in Savannah, and Dr. Fuller, of Baltimore, was elected President. On motion of William H. McIntosh, of Alabama, a committee, composed of R. Fuller, of Maryland, B. Manly, Sr., of Alabama; P. H. Mell, of Georgia; R. B. C. Howell, of Tennessee; J. B Taylor, of Virginia; E. T. Winkler, of South Carolina; L. W. Allen, of Kentucky; Wm. C. Crane, of Louisiana; G. H. Martin, of Mississippi; J. E. Broome, of Florida; J. L. Prichard, of North Carolina, was instructed to report on the "State of the Country."

The following is the report, which was unanimously adopted, and it should be remembered that about one-half of the delegates were Georgians. Dr. Richard Fuller, of Maryland, made the report:
"We hold this truth to be self-evident, that governments are established for the security, prosperity and happiness of the people. When, therefore, any government is perverted from its proper design, becomes oppressive and abuses its power, the people have a right to change it.

"As to the States once combined upon this continent, it is now manifest that they can no longer live together as one confederacy.

"The Union, constituted by our forefathers, was one of co-equal sovereign States. The fanatical spirit of the North has long been seeking to deprive us of rights and franchises guaranteed by the Constitution;" and, after years of persistent aggression, they have, at last, accomplished their purpose.

"In vindication of their sacred rights and honor, in self-defence, and for the protection of all which is dear to man, the Southern States have, practically, asserted a right of seceding from a Union so degenerated from that established by the Constitution" and they have framed for themselves a government based upon the principles of the original compact - adopting a character which secures to each State its sovereign rights and privileges.

"This new government, in thus dissolving former political connections, seeks to cultivate relations of amity and good will with its late confederates, and with all the world; and they have thrice sent special commissioners to Washington, with overtures for peace, and for a fair, amicable adjustment of all difficulties. The government at Washington has insultingly repelled these reasonable proposals, and now insists upon devastating our land with fire and sword; upon letting loose hordes of armed soldiers to pillage and desolate the

[p. 286]
entire South, for the purpose of forcing the seceded States back into unnatural union, or of subjugating them, and holding them as conquered provinces.

"While the two sections of the land are thus arrayed against each other, it might naturally have been hoped that, at least, the churches of the North would interpose and protest against this appeal to the sword - this invoking of civil war - this deluging the country in fratricidal blood" but, with astonishment and grief, we find churches and pastors of the North breathing out slaughter, and clamoring for sanguinary hostilities with a fierceness which we would have supposed impossible among the disciples of the Prince of Peace. In view of such premises, this Convention cannot keep silence. Recognizing the necessity that the whole moral influence of the people, in whatever capacity or organization, should be enlisted in aid of the rulers, who, by their suffrages, have been called to defend the endangered interests of person and property, of honor and liberty, it is bound to utter its voice distinctly, decidedly, emphatically, and your committee recommend, therefore, the subjoined resolutions:

"Resolved, 1. That impartial history cannot charge upon the South the dissolution of the Union. She was foremost in advocating and cementing that Union. To that Union she clung, through long years of calumny, injury and insult. She has never ceased to raise her warning appeals against the fanaticism which has obstinately and incessantly warred against that Union.

"Resolved, 2. That we most cordially approve of the formation of the government of the Confederate States of America, and admire and applaud the noble course of that government up to the present time.

"Resolved, 3. That we will assiduously invoke the divine direction and favor in behalf of those who bear rule among us, that they may still exercise the same wise, prompt, elevated statesmanship, which has hitherto characterized their measures; that their enterprises may be attended with success; and that they may attain great reward, not only in seeing these Confederate States prosper under their administration, but in contributing to the progress of the transcended kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"Resolved, 4. That we most cordially tender to the President of the Confederate States, to his Cabinet, and to the members of the Congress now convened at Montgomery, the assurances of our sympathy and entire confidence. With them are our hearts and our hearty co-operation.

"Resolved, 5. That the lawless reign of terror at the North, the violence committed upon unoffending citizens, above all, the threats to wage upon the South a warfare of savage barbarity, to devastate our homes and hearths with hosts of ruffians and felons, burning with lust and rapine, ought to excite the horror of all civilized people. God forbid that we should so far forget the spirit of Jesus as to suffer malice and vindictiveness to insinuate themselves into our hearts; but, every principle of religion, of patriotism and of humanity, calls upon us to pledge our fortunes and lives in the good work of repelling an invasion designed to destroy whatever is dear in our heroic traditions - whatever is sweet in domestic hopes and enjoyments - whatever is essential to our institutions and our very manhood - whatever is worth living or dying for.

"Resolved, 6. That we do now engage in prayer for our friends, brothers, fathers, sons and citizen-soldiers, who have left their homes to go forth for the defence of their families and friends, and all which is dearest to the human heart; and we commend to the churches represented in this body, that they constantly invoke a holy and merciful God to cover their heads in the day of battle, and give victory to their arms.

"Resolved, 7. That we will pray for our enemies in the spirit of the Divine Master, who, "when he was reviled reviled not again," trusting that their pitiless purposes may be frustrated; that God will grant to them a more politic, a more considerate, and a more Christian mind, that the fratricidal strife which they have decided upon, notwithstanding all our commissions and pleas for peace, may be arrested by that Supreme Power who maketh the wrath of man to praise Him; and that thus, through the divine blessing, the prosperity of these sovereign and once allied States may be restored under the two governments to which they now and henceforth, respectively belong.

"Resolved, 8. We do recommend the churches of the Baptist denomination in the Southern States, to observe the first and second days of June, as days of humiliation, fasting, and prayer to Almighty God, that He may avert any calamities due to our sins as a people, and may look with mercy and favor upon us.

"Resolved, 9. That, whatever calamities may come upon us, our firm trust and hope are in God, through the atonement of His Son, and we earnestly beseech the churches represented in this body (a constituency of six or seven hundred thousand Christians), that they be prompt and importunate in prayer, not only for the country, but for the enterprises of the gospel which have been committed to our care. In the war of 1812, the Baptists bated not a jot of heart or hope for the Redeemer's cause. Their zeal and liberality abounded in their deep afflictions. We beseech the churches to cherish the spirit, and imitate the example of this noble army of saints and heroes; to be followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises; to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as they know that their labor is not in vain in the Lord.

"Resolved, 10. That these resolutions be communicated to the Congress of the 'Confederate States,' at Montgomery, with the signatures of the President and Secretaries of the Convention.
"P. H. MELL,

[p. 287]
This report was adopted May 13th, 1861.

[Samuel Boykin, History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia, Volume I, 1881, pp. 285-7. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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