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Alexander Gregg

First Bishop of Texas







Author of "General Kirby-Smith"; Editor of "Bishop
Quintard's Memoirs of the War," etc.




The University Press




Chapter I. The Greggs.

Chapter II. Alexander Gregg, Attorney at Law.

Chapter III. The Rector of St. David's, Cheraw.

Chapter IV. The Church in Texas.

Chapter V. Election to the Episcopate.

Chapter VI. The Ante-Bellum Bishopric of Texas.

Chapter VII. A Bishop of the Church in the Confederate States.

Chapter VIII. The Bishop in Reconstruction Times.

Chapter IX. The Lambeth Conference.

Chapter X. The University of the South.

Chapter XI. The Division of the Diocese.

Chapter XII. The Closing Years.

Editor's Preface

THE Life of the First Bishop of Texas was written by his son, Wilson Gregg, after the close of his father's active episcopate, but while the Bishop was yet living. Several years after the untimely death of Mr. Wilson Gregg, which occurred in 1899, the manuscript was placed in the hands of the present writer for revision and completion and for publication. This was somewhat delayed by the death of Mrs. Wilmerding, who was chiefly interested in the publication; and while the book was passing through the press, Mr. David Gregg, of Luling, Texas, who was also much interested in the publicaton of his brother's tribute to his father's memory, passed away.

In the accomplishment of his task the Editor has been greatly aided by the Rev. Charles W. Boyd, formerly of Cheraw, S. C., and by the Rev. George L. Crocket, long time Secretary, Registrar and Historiographer of the Diocese of Texas.

So much of the book as relates to the position taken by Bishop Gregg in the critical period of our national and ecclesiastical history from 186o to 1865, might have been greatly improved could the Editor have had earlier access to the history of the Church in the [v/vi] Confederacy, as that history has recently been published by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Cheshire, Bishop of North Carolina. The following citations from "The Church in the Confederate States" (Longmans, Green & Co.), made with the kind permission of the author, will serve to enhance the picture of Bishop Gregg which his biographer strove to give. [The citations have been taken from the manuscript of the lectures delivered in Sewanee in the autumn of 1911. They are generally in the language of the Bishop of North Carolina, though they are not literal quotations, and hence the use of quotation marks has been dispensed with.]

In a pastoral letter of the 3oth of January, 186r, Bishop Polk, of Louisiana, had expressed the principle involved in the secession of his state as affecting the Diocese, taking the extreme position that the Church must follow nationality; and by the mere force of the secession of the state of Louisiana, the Diocese of Louisiana was torn away from all ecclesiastical relations and was isolated with respect to all other Dioceses in the world. This bold and bald statement that political action of the state determines ipso facto the status of the Church in its most intimate relations with its component parts, and the resulting dissolution of all constitutional and canonical connections and obligations, was never accepted by other leaders in the South, though, with the exception of Bishop Gregg, all the Bishops and Dioceses of the South, [vi/vii] in substance, declared that upon one ground or another the secession of the state had the effect of separating the Diocese from the Church in the United States. Bishop Gregg, on the nth of April, r861, used the following words in addressing his Diocesan Convention (referring to the call issued by Bishop Polk and Bishop Elliott, on the 23rd of March, for a meeting of the Southern Bishops and Dioceses in July to organize the Church in the Confederate States): "If again the general sentiment of the Church, North and South, should ultimately be found to tend to the expediency of the severance of the ecclesiastical union heretofore existing, the friendly consultation on our part as preparatory to the final action of the General Convention, would be every way desirable." In his address to his Diocesan Convention the following year he makes the very suggestive observation: "It is one of the happy effects of revolutions, ecclesiastical and civil, if rightly conducted, to develop more fully principles that have long lain dormant, to evolve truth long obscured, and alike to expose, if not always to correct, the evils of error and corruption." And then apparently under the spell of Bishop Polk's strong character, or else infected by the contagion of national feeling around him, Bishop Gregg and his Diocese declared it to be a principle essential in the external order of the Church, that [vii/viii] the Church must be organized so as to be coterminous with the nation.

With the surrender of Lee, Johnson and Kirby-Smith in 1865, the end came and the Southern Confederacy was over. This precipitated another question for the Bishops of the South to answer: How did this affect the ecclesiastical organization which had taken for its name "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America?" The name was certainly gone. According to the theory, the Church must follow nationality, the whole question was settled, and one Diocese in the South, and so far as appears, one only, accepted promptly and courageously the logical consequences of that principle first advanced by Bishop Polk. Bishop Gregg had seemed in 1861 to take a different view of the effect of the secession of the state, and had spoken of the Church going on with its unity unbroken and the Communion of Saints undisturbed by all the strifes and mutations of the world. Yet he had the following year, as we have seen, acceded to Bishop Polk's position.

There was no truer man (says Bishop Cheshire,) nor a more godly, and no more loyal Churchman than Alexander Gregg. He said to his Convention when the war in the Trans-Mississippi had hardly well closed: "Our civil and spiritual work and relations, [viii/iv] as I have heretofore urged upon you, are closely and inseparably blended and there is a unity pervading the whole which cannot be ignored or disturbed without endangering that harmony in both...;" and he proceeded to urge the "propriety of taking such steps as might bring in due time a return to our former ecclesiastical relations." Whereupon the Diocesan Convention adopted a preamble and resolutions setting forth in substance that whereas they had acted in 1862 "in accordance with the practice of the Church in all ages in yielding allegiance to the government of the nation in which the Providence of God had placed her, so now it is resolved that the action of 1862 be rescinded and the Constitution of the Church in the United States is acknowledged." Deputies were elected to the General Convention and the Bishop was urged to use his efforts to have the "General Council" of the "Church in the Confederate States" take similar action. One can but admire, the brave simplicity and logical consistency of the course taken by the Bishop of Texas and his Convention.

The other Southern Dioceses were not so promptly disposed to resume their former relation to the Church in the United States. Bishop Elliott seemed in his address to his Convention in 1865 to wish to postpone ecclesiastical reunion until the Southern States had been restored to their proper civil status. Bishop [ix/x] Gregg felt himself and his Diocese so closely touched by the reflections of the Bishop of Georgia (says Bishop Cheshire), that he replied in an open letter addressed to Bishop Elliott through the columns of the Church Intelligencer. There are few finer specimens of clear and cogent reasoning, manly dignity, and sweet Christian courtesy, than in this letter of Bishop Gregg to one whom he loved and revered, but in this case could not follow.

A. H. N.

The University of the South,
Sewanee, Tennessee,
August, 1912.

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