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Why does the Diocese of Virginia have an annual Council and not an annual Convention? It’s not always been so. Just since 1861:

Meeting in 1861 the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Confederate states adopted a constitution: There appeared to be no eager desire for change or for emphasizing the fact of separation. Nothing was attempted in the way of legislation at this time. It was felt that, until the Constitution had been ratified and adopted by the Dioceses, there could be no proper basis for canonical action; and so the whole body of Canons, prepared and reported along with the Constitution to the Convention of October, 1861, was ordered to be printed, and was referred to the first General Council to be held under the Constitution when adopted. One of the changes of the new Constitution was to substitute “Council” for “Convention” in the name of the legislative assemblies, both of the Dioceses and of the national triennial meetings…. The name Council is still retained in some of the Southern Dioceses as the designation of the annual Convention.  (Source. The Church in the Confederate States: A History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States, Chapter II, by  Joseph Blount Cheshire, D.D., Bishop of North Carolina, New York, London, Bombay and Calcutta: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912.)

Today two of those Southern Dioceses retain the name Council as the designation for their annual Convention, Virginia and Mississippi. In addition, the dioceses Southern Virginia and Southwestern Virginia use the name Council rather than Convention. Southern Virginia was created out of the Diocese of Virginia in 1892, and Southwestern Virginia out of Southern Virginia in 1919.

Please let us know if there are other dioceses with annual councils.

A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union (1861)

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.

The hostility to this institution commenced before the adoption of the Constitution, and was manifested in the well-known Ordinance of 1787, in regard to the Northwestern Territory.

The feeling increased, until, in 1819-20, it deprived the South of more than half the vast territory acquired from France.

The same hostility dismembered Texas and seized upon all the territory acquired from Mexico.

It has grown until it denies the right of property in slaves, and refuses protection to that right on the high seas, in the Territories, and wherever the government of the United States had jurisdiction.

It refuses the admission of new slave States into the Union, and seeks to extinguish it by confining it within its present limits, denying the power of expansion.

It tramples the original equality of the South under foot.

It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and has utterly broken the compact which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain.

It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.

It has enlisted its press, its pulpit and its schools against us, until the whole popular mind of the North is excited and inflamed with prejudice.

It has made combinations and formed associations to carry out its schemes of emancipation in the States and wherever else slavery exists.

It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition without providing a better.

It has invaded a State, and invested with the honors of martyrdom the wretch whose purpose was to apply flames to our dwellings, and the weapons of destruction to our lives.

It has broken every compact into which it has entered for our security.

It has given indubitable evidence of its design to ruin our agriculture, to prostrate our industrial pursuits and to destroy our social system.

It knows no relenting or hesitation in its purposes; it stops not in its march of aggression, and leaves us no room to hope for cessation or for pause.

It has recently obtained control of the Government, by the prosecution of its unhallowed schemes, and destroyed the last expectation of living together in friendship and brotherhood.

Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property. For far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.

Our decision is made. We follow their footsteps. We embrace the alternative of separation; and for the reasons here stated, we resolve to maintain our rights with the full consciousness of the justice of our course, and the undoubting belief of our ability to maintain it.

Source: Encyclopedia of the American Civil War

The Episcopal Church of Virginia on the Civil War Home Front
(Source: http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Religion_During_the_Civil_War)

Judith McGuire, a refugee from occupied Alexandria, attended St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond on the March 27, 1863, fast day. “The churches were all crowded with worshippers,” she reported, “who, I trust, felt their dependence on God in this great struggle.”

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. … 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 1865, 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.”

The Rev. Charles Minnigerode DD preached that sermon at St. Paul’s Episcopal, Richmond on January 1, 1865. Richmond falls in April of 1865.

More from the sermon:

 Is it not want of faith, which is the root of all that murmuring against God’s providence, that impatience at delay and the frustration of our plans, that repining under the pressure of misfortunes and losses and reverses? of that hasty spirit which charges our losses upon others, and finds relief in censure and distrust? which acts upon the impulse of the moment and forms its conclusions from the passing events of the day, judges of the favour of God by a success and of his displeasure by a reverse? which allows itself to be tossed about by changes which meet us in our earthly life, and rushes with equal thoughtlessness or recklessness–now into presumption on the crest of a prosperous wave–again into utter despondency, aye sinks down in despair, when the billows rise above us and seem ready to swallow us up.

And instead of falling into despair, and giving up and sacrificing all in pusillanimity or personal spite, manly action, which meets the stern reality with courage and, in reliance on God’s help, and trusting to his mercy, begirts itself to the work before him, and redeems the time by using every lawful means and making every reasonable exertion to do his duty and accomplish his purpose. Such, I say, are the marks of the true man, of the Christian, of the believer; who shall not make haste, but persevere under trials and against difficulties till his work is done; and who can never fail–even though here on earth he should find no other triumph but the martyr’s crown.

This is the true lesson of life, the secret of our failure or success, our victory or defeat in the problem of our existence.  …

What is it that makes the present crisis so painful?

Our reverses? NO, BRETHREN. For great as they have been, (and no honest man would hide their extent,) we have had reverses before, and God always has blessed them to us, made them the source of greater harmony among ourselves, roused us to new and greater exertions, and taught us to bear them and repair them as men. What makes the present crisis so painful and so perilous lies not in what the enemy has done to us with his armies, but in what our own coward, faithless, selfish hearts may do. The all but general despondency, the lack of faith in ourselves and in God’s assistance, the haste with which, from want of faith, many would rush to this or that wild expedient, though at the sacrifice of all that first armed us to the battle, some perhaps at the sacrifice of honour and truth…

… Let us do our duty, be faithful in our work, and we can safely leave results with God! The 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. Trust in his Spirit and in his might and gracious promises; and that trust shall buoy us up to do our part in the work of our deliverance and independence. Oh! when I recollect what others have done in the struggle for their liberty and existence, the sacrifices they have brought….

… How true are the words of the present Governor of South Carolina, when in his Inaugural he said: “Other nations, for lesser purposes, have striven longer, endured more than we have, and won for themselves imperishable honour. Let us not hesitate in our purpose, or falter in its execution.” Aye, Brethren, no nation ever gained its freedom without suffering; and had we time to refer to the facts of history, we could easily show how true it is that others have suffered more and struggled longer….

 There have been many whose great stimulant was not the principle of national freedom and the sacred cause of constitutional and inalienable rights, but the aspiration for wealth and power and a great new empire. But “pride goeth before a fall”–can we wonder that such a fall should overtake us? But shall we be cast down and not rather take it as a solemn, painful lesson to profit by, and be led to the true and only foundation of all right and hope and prosperity? Shall it be said of us, that “we begun to build and were not able to finish?’

The question resolves itself into this: Shall we be of the number of those who, in the crucible of affliction, were found wanting, and proved themselves unworthy of the prize they fought for? or, shall we be of those who, through trials and fiery persecution, endured and glorified God, and honoured themselves and blessed their country by remaining faithful, and in every danger proved themselves true men, brave men, Christian heroes?

Errors, grave errors have been committed, no doubt. Only let us acknowledge the hand of God even there, even in our failures; and let us remember that the great error, the great difficulty is in us, in ourselves, in our own faithless hearts, and sinful lives, and selfish fears, and hasty judgments; and oh! I do pray and hope that God will have mercy upon us, and give us better minds and stout hearts and unfailing faith, that shall not make haste, that shall win the prize. But if we fall, let us fall with our faces upward, our hearts turned to God, our hands in the work, our wounds in the breast, with blessings–not curses–upon our lips; and all is not lost! We have retained our honor, we have done our duty to the last, and lived and died as the servants of God, lived in faith and died in the hope of glory.

Emphasis added.

June 19th celebrates the day in 1865 when word reached slaves in Texas.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

More at juneteenth.com. (H/T Episcopal Intercultural Network.)

General Granger read General Order, Number 3 to the people of Galveston:

See our previous post, Mapping Emancipation.

Emancipation did not begin or end during the Civil War with Lincoln’s Emancipation Declaration. This is the underlying message of a project of the University of Richmond, Visualizing Emancipation. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

Edward L. Ayers, a historian and president of the University of Richmond, calls the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War “the least-understood social transformation in American history.” A new interactive map he helped build shows that emancipation didn’t occur in one moment, he says, but was “an unfolding,” happening from the very first years of the war to the very last. And, he adds, it happened because of African-Americans, not merely for them, or to them.

“Looking at the map, there’s no single event that you can point to and say, ‘Emancipation happened here,’” Mr. Ayers said. “But in the absence of the defining moment, you start to see patterns of how African-Americans helped the Union and followed the paths of the armies and fought for their own emancipation. Here, the emancipated people appear as key players in their own stories, not told through the eyes of someone else.”

Now that the map is published online, Mr. Ayers and Mr. Nesbit are inviting the public and members of other universities to contribute more information from primary texts. So far, they have received about 12 submissions.

From the earliest forays of the Union forces into the South, slaves used the opportunity to seek their freedom. And Union officers de facto emancipated slaves with the president’s approval:

Union troops in the field, meanwhile, were unsure what to do with African Americans who escaped slavery by crossing into Union lines. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 required that they be returned to their owners, and this is exactly what a Confederate colonel demanded when three of his slaves fled to Fort Monroe [Virginia] in May 1861. [General Benjamin F.] Butler ordered that because Virginia had seceded from the Union, its citizens could no longer claim the protection of U.S. laws. Furthermore, he argued, because these particular slaves had been helping to construct fieldworks, they should be considered “contraband of war” and defined as property with military value. Lincoln approved, and in August, Congress passed the First Confiscation Act. It declared free all slaves being used directly in the Confederate war effort. When another Union general, John C. Frémont, attempted to go further than that—on August 30, he ordered emancipated all Missouri slaves owned by active Confederates—he was overruled.

Like the Confiscation Act,  the Emancipation Proclamation was not intended as a purely benevolent act towards the slaves. Lincoln calculated that the Northern electorate was ready to support the abolition of slavery in the South as a device to bring the war to a conclusion. The proclamation exempted the slave holding states not in the Confederacy. And it gave states in the Confederacy the same opportunity to be exempt if they quit the Confederacy by January 1, 1863.

Visualizing Emancipation cannot be appreciated without a visit to the website.

Added June 15, The Root: When Were Blacks Truly Freed From Slavery?

Though President Abraham Lincoln ended slavery with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, slaves in Texas had no knowledge of their freedom until two and a half years later. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston and declared the end of the Civil War, withGeneral Granger reading aloud a special decree that ordered the freeing of some 200,000 slaves in the state.

Because of the delay, many African Americans started a tradition of celebrating the actual day slavery ended on June 19 (also known as Juneteenth). But for some, their cheers were short-lived. Thanks to the South’s lucrative prison labor system and a deceptive practice called debt peonage, a kind of neo-slavery continued for some blacks long into the 1940s. The question then arises: When did African Americans really claim their freedom?

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II by Japanese troops, Roosevelt signed Circular No. 3591 (pdf), giving teeth to the Anti-Peonage Law of 1867, which criminalized the practice. Dispatching a federal investigation, Roosevelt’s team prosecuted guilty whites and effectively ended peonage in 1942. …