Project Canterbury

The Church in the Confederate States
A History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States

By Joseph Blount Cheshire, D.D.
Bishop of North Carolina

New York, London, Bombay and Calcutta: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912.

Chapter IV. The Church and the Negro

An interesting field of speculation and conjecture is suggested by the question: What would have been the probable effect upon the institution of slavery, if the Confederate States had become a settled and independent nation? We must, I think, admit that the conditions would have been favorable for its continuance during many years. The whole industrial system of the South was based on slavery, and there were vast unsettled and unimproved regions demanding for their first occupation the kind of labor which slavery most readily supplies. Furthermore, the complete and wide separation between master and slave, not only by race and color, but by intellectual, moral, and social conditions, qualities, and natural capabilities, made the problem of emancipation vastly more difficult than had ever been the case in the history of human development in the past. The supreme difficulty was (and it remains the same) that the negro, when freed, cannot be readily and thoroughly taken up and assimilated into the body politic and social. Further, the fact that the incidental cause of the War between the States had been so closely associated with this peculiar institution, though springing ultimately out of divergent theories of constitutional construction, would for some years have added a strong prejudicial element to the problem of even raising the question as to any kind of dealing with slavery. All these considerations would seem to make it probable that, had the independence of the Confederate States been permanently established, slavery would for many years have remained the peculiar institution of the country, determining the direction of its industrial and commercial development, and modifying its social institutions and its moral and intellectual character.

But, assuming the continued independent existence of the nation, and some, even moderate, degree of prosperity, such as might not unreasonably be looked for, there would have been this great gain for those who may have considered slavery as a present necessary evil, to be remedied in the future: that the people of the South would have been able for themselves to take up the subject, and to give it their serious and intelligent consideration, free from the distracting and exasperating influences of outside interference.

The South had not always been united upon the question. It is well known that her greatest leaders in the first period of independence had been opposed to slavery. Washington and his great contemporaries desired and anticipated its gradual abolition. Many men of that day provided in their wills for the freeing of their slaves; and the very general prevalence of this practice seems only to have been prevented, in Virginia at least, by the manifest disadvantages under which the free colored population of the South lay, and their apparent inability to make a place for themselves in the progressive life of the community. The three thousand free blacks in Virginia, at the close of the Revolution, had increased, almost entirely by manumissions, to thirteen thousand within the following ten years, and to thirty thousand in the next twenty years. This rapid increase, and the manifest disadvantage, no less to the free negroes themselves than to the whites, of such numbers of free blacks in the midst of a large slave population, caused the enactment of a law that negroes freed after 1806 must leave the State--by no means a harsh measure, or unjust, when we consider the immense extent of unimproved and unoccupied lands in the free States immediately contiguous to Virginia. If the people of those adjoining free States had not met this Virginia law with the most determined efforts to prevent, both by legislative enactment and by lawless violence, the settlement of free negroes among them, Virginia might have been a free State itself before the year 1861.

The most rabid abolitionist of the Garrison school never more passionately protested against slavery, or more vehemently denounced it as unjust and deserving of divine vengeance, than did Thomas Jefferson in his "Notes on Virginia." And in this he but expressed a sentiment common, in varying degrees of intensity, among a very large proportion of the best people of his State, and of other Southern States at that time. In that beautiful sketch of a noble Southern matron by the Rev. Dr. Andrews, the "Life of Mrs. Page," is a striking illustration of the state of mind of a large class of the best people of Virginia towards slavery. Mrs. Page was an elder sister of Bishop Meade, and her firm and exalted character was not without influence in the development of the character of her brother. In Mrs. Page's strong feeling of repugnance towards slavery, and in her high-minded determination and firm judicious action to shield the young negro women from some of its greatest dangers, we have a type of the old-time slave-owner by no means exceptional.

By the year 1832 popular feeling in Virginia had become so much aroused upon the evils of slavery, that the most earnest efforts were made in the Legislature of that year to devise some just and practicable means and methods for its abolition. A measure for gradual emancipation failed in one House by only one vote. A majority of the members favored such a policy. One of the most distinguished members of that body, in the course of the great debate on the subject, declared that no avowed advocate of slavery had appeared on that floor to speak for it; and he added, that the day had long gone by "when such an advocate could be listened to with patience or even forbearance."

It is possible that even then the institution had become too thoroughly incorporated with the life of the community to allow of its being removed, except by some such violent and destructive process as that which finally effected its destruction. However that may be, the course of events immediately following this great effort in Virginia, checked, and then all but reversed, the course of popular feeling on the subject. Many of the best men, however, continued to be of the same mind. Virginia was headquarters of the old Colonization Society, and Bishop Meade was among its ablest advocates and most efficient promoters. He travelled to distant Southern States laboring in this cause. In his early married life he cultivated his fields with the labor of his own hands, and eventually he freed all his slaves. Bishop Atkinson in early life freed all his negroes who were willing to go to the free States, keeping only those who preferred to remain in Virginia as his slaves. It is said that in Virginia alone about one hundred thousand slaves were freed by their owners between the end of the Revolution and the year 1861. It is a strange sight,--and yet characteristic of the man and of his race--to see General Lee, in the midst of his laborious and exhausting duties, and in the intervals between his glorious victories, in the year 1863, taking time to prepare and to execute the necessary deeds for the manumission of the negroes of the Custis estate.

In the same eventful year 1832, at the University of North Carolina, Judge William Gaston, at that time perhaps the foremost citizen of the State, in his notable "Address to the Literary Societies," set before the young men of the University, as one of the imperative duties of the near future, the deliverance of the State from the evil burden of slavery. And it happened, by a strange coincidence, that the oration of the Valedictorian of the Senior Class at this same Commencement was an argument in favor of the gradual abolition of slavery in North Carolina. These facts are significant of the drift of opinion. The rise about this time of Abolition Societies in the North, and the struggle over the presentation of the Abolition Petitions in Congress, were important influences in bringing about that change of popular sentiment which within a few years made it impossible to discuss, or to consider, the question dispassionately in the South. Had the Confederate States become permanently independent, it would have become possible for the South to reopen the question, and to ask herself what her true interest and her permanent welfare and prosperity did demand of her in settling it.

The Church of Christ should be the conscience of the nation, and in a very real degree it always has been. One of the invariable results of the prevalence of Christianity has been the ultimate disappearance of slavery, in the countries brought under its influence. But it has never sought this end by revolution, nor by imperative canonical action, nor by the direct operation of ecclesiastical censures. It has seemed to treat slavery as an incidental encumbrance, characteristic of certain stages of social progress, to be gradually ameliorated, and so improved out of existence, in the vital processes of moral and social development.

Perhaps the most familiar instance of this, and the one which comes nearest to us, is seen in the early history of England. Though fortunately not separated by color, race, or essential social characteristics, the early English social order included both bondmen and freemen. And the distinction did not wholly disappear until comparatively modern times. The "villeins regardant" and the "villeins in gross," of whom we read in our commentaries on the Common Law, were a kind of slaves, whose chains and fetters had for the most part been broken by the time of the Reformation, but who had still some marks of servitude remaining, and some loose links hanging upon them, when Lord Coke published his Commentary on Littleton. And, so far as I recall, the Church of England never proceeded by canonical legislation in her efforts to rescue the slave, and to make him a free man. In fact, in the many broad manors owned by the old monasteries and Prelates of England, thousands of these customary and manorial serfs added to the wealth and power of the Church. [Blackstone has a curious passage in this connection: "For Sir Thomas Smith testifies, that in all his time (and he was Secretary to Edward VI) he never knew any villein in gross throughout the realm; and the few villeins regardant that were then remaining, were such only as belonged to bishops, monasteries, or other ecclesiastical corporations, in the preceding times of popery. For he tells us that 'the holy fathers, monks, and friars had in their confessions, and especially in their extreme and deadly sickness, convinced the laity how dangerous a practice it was, for one Christian man to hold another in bondage; so that temporal men, by little and little, by reason of that terror in their conscience, were glad to manumit all their villeins. But the said holy fathers, with the abbots and priors, did not in like sort by theirs; for they also had a scruple in conscience to impoverish and despoil the Church so much as to manumit such as were bond to their Churches, or to the manors which the Church had gotten; and so kept their villeins still.'"] But, with whatever of fault or inconsistency, the Church was all the time an influence for human freedom and the emancipation of the slave.

And her influence operated chiefly in two closely related ways: first, she taught, and in some degree enforced in practice, the idea of Christian brotherhood, the oneness of all men in Christ; and second, she introduced certain principles of social order and of Christian duty, especially the sanctity of Marriage and the family relation, and the obligation of personal purity, involving a distinct element of personal freedom. And these two lines of influence, working upon both master and serf, in the end wrought out freedom for both from that institution, which has been a temporary element in the development of almost every people.

The Church in the Confederate States found itself in such a relationship with slavery as perhaps never had existed before. The whole domestic and social life of the country, as well as its agricultural interests, depended upon the service and labor of the slaves; and the clergy were as much involved in the practical workings of the institution as were the laity. By the unfortunate course which the controversy had taken, it had become a point of honor and of patriotism to maintain its utility as well as its lawfulness. To have attacked the institution of slavery, in the prevalent state of public feeling, would have seemed, and in effect would have been, treason to the Southern cause. In the actual state of public affairs, those least desirous of the perpetuation of slavery could not help seeing, that the times were most unsuitable for the discussion or consideration of its continuance.

In this crisis of public interests, and in this temper of the public mind, in the Church and in the nation, it is interesting and gratifying, not to say surprising, to find that, in her first regular synodical gathering, the Church in the Confederate States sounded a clear and strong note of exhortation and of warning, and with instinctive precision touched the two points which from the beginning had been the cardinal points in her work for the elevation of man in his social life--the fact of universal brotherhood in Christ, and the divine character and obligation of the family relationship. The first resolution adopted by the House of Deputies of the General Council of 1862, upon the subject of the Church's work within her own borders, is as follows: "That this Church desires specially to recognize its obligation to provide for the spiritual wants of that class of our brethren, who in the providence of God, have been committed to our sympathy and care by the national institution of slavery." First of all the Church thus recognized the fact of Christian brotherhood in the slave. "That class of our brethren," is the phrase by which she designates him, and declares his status in the Church: thus the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies. The Pastoral Letter of the House of Bishops is equally emphatic on the other point. Moreover, the language of the Bishops is remarkable for its suggestion of a future development and a providential work lying before the negroes "as a people." There is some inexactness in the construction of the sentence, but such is my understanding of its meaning. After stating in strong terms the duty of the Church to the slaves, and the impossibility of separating the interests and the fortunes of the two races, it speaks of them as "this sacred trust committed to us, as a people to be prepared for the work which God may have for them to do in the future." The Pastoral Letter then proceeds to urge "upon the masters of the country their obligation, as Christian men, so to arrange this institution as not to necessitate the violation of those sacred relations which God has created, and which man cannot, consistently with Christian duty, annul."

Thus did the Church in the Confederate States, in its very first synodical gathering, set forth these two principles, Christian brotherhood and the divine obligation of the family relationship, out of which have come the regeneration of human society, and the amelioration and gradual elimination of slavery out of the social system.

Not only did the Church in its legislative council thus formally declare itself, but there is no lack of evidence that this synodical utterance expressed what was in the mind and conscience of the people. In every Diocese of the South, in one form or another, we find evidence of an increasing sense of obligation in respect to the welfare and spiritual enlightenment of the slave. In the Church press appeared long and earnest articles, dealing with his place in the Church, and the adaptation of the Church's methods to his needs, and urging the importance of such modifications in the institution of slavery as Christian people should make, for the elevation of his character and the improvement of his condition. In a series of long and able editorials, continuing through the summer and fall of the year 1861, the Church Intelligencer discussed the several aspects of this question: the suitableness of the Church's worship and teaching to the negro; methods of work and instruction, illustrated by notable examples in different parts of the South; and the special obligations arising out of the circumstances of that critical time. In its issue of August 30, 1861, in an article entitled "The Legal Status of Slaves," occurs this passage:

;'Men, whose memory runs back thirty years, or a little more, will easily call to mind a state of public feeling then existing such that the great body of our people of all parties, and of all sects, were ready and eager to adopt every safe measure that would tend to ameliorate and elevate the condition of our servile population. Many, no doubt, looked forward to more than this.... This hopeful condition of affairs was suddenly changed, and in a few years few persons could be found who thought it expedient and proper to attempt those alterations which themselves had so recently advocated and so heartily desired. The influence which wrought this great change of public sentiment among us, operated on us almost entirely from abroad. The change of feeling at home sprung from a change of policy elsewhere.

"But this condition of affairs is also now changed. The recent independence of the Southern States has shut out mainly such foreign influence. The system of slavery is now, and is henceforth to be, entirely in our own hands, and under our control, and whatever responsibilities belong to it are ours only. . . .

"Now we have an opportunity, such as in the history of this people has never been.... Let then our politicians lay aside their party contests and address themselves to this great work.... Let them feel that on them rests a fearful responsibility to man and to God.... Let them consult reason, and experience, and most of all the Gospel of Jesus Christ.... How far the war under which we are now suffering is the consequence and the penalty of our neglect of duty in this matter, is a grave question." And then, coming to the practical question thus introduced, it proceeds: "Our laws do not recognize the marriage relation among slaves. This omission seems to have been thus far intentional. It is part of the traditional policy of the system. We have adopted it, as the other nations of modern times have done, from the Civil Law.... But that such a state of things should exist among us, should have been so long endured by the Christian consciousness of our people, is a strange thing indeed.... We would commend this, and the like evils in the existing condition of affairs, to those who have the rule over us. They deserve deliberate thought and a vigorous effort." Thus, before Bishops or Council had formally spoken, we see the mind and conscience of the Church working

This feeling was general among the best people throughout the South. The Baptist Association of Georgia, in 1864, adopted a resolution setting forth in very strong terms the duty of recognizing, and protecting by legislative enactment, the marriage of slaves, concluding: "that the law of Georgia, in its failure to regulate and protect this relationship between our slaves, is essentially defective and ought to be amended."

The Southern Presbyterian, the leading newspaper of that very intelligent and conservative communion, referring with strong approval to the foregoing resolution, says: "This subject is engaging a good deal of attention at the present time. The Christian conscience of the Southern people has been, in some measure, awakened to its importance, and not a few voices are emboldened, even amid all the trials and terrors of the present war, to speak out earnestly the convictions of Christian hearts. We believe that slavery 'prevents more separations of husbands and wives among the blacks, than it causes. We believe that there is less conjugal infidelity, fewer conjugal separations, and more conjugal happiness among them, than there would be if they were free. [This estimate has been fully justified by the experience of the forty-five years of negro freedom since 1865. Separations between husband and wife, with a general disregard of conjugal and parental obligations, have been very greatly more prevalent up to the present time among the negroes, than was ever the case under the system of slavery. Such at least is the opinion of all well-informed persons with whom the writer has conferred on this subject.] We believe that when a slave man and a slave woman in good faith take each other to be husband and wife, it is marriage in the sight of God and man, and it does not require the laws of the State to make it so. But our laws wholly ignore that relation among our slaves, and they give the master power to separate the husband and wife, not directly and explicitly, but by the power they give to control the local habitation of the slave. This is what troubles Christian consciences."

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Savannah, much about the same time, gave public expression of his views at some length upon this same question. Among other things he said: "This leads me to another condition on the subject kindred to the preceding. It is that matrimonial relations be observed among slaves, and that the laws of marriage be enforced among them. ... I leave it to the conscience, reason, and good sense of any upright and virtuous man, whether God can bless a country and a state of things, in which there is a woful disregard of the holy laws of marriage."

Thus we see that, no sooner was the institution of slavery removed from the field of political contention, than, as a first effect, the public mind and conscience began to move along those lines of reform, which suggest, not only immediate improvement in the condition of the slave, but the possibility of his ultimate complete enfranchisement through the normal processes of social development.

He who knows anything of those few crowded and bloody years, when the South, overwhelmed by numbers, exhausted in resources, and drained of her noblest manhood, was making her desperate struggle for national existence, will not be surprised that no great results were accomplished in any work of internal social development. But it may justly be said that the Church, in declaring its principles and in laying out its policy, did what it could, and vindicated its claim to be a living branch of the true Vine; it was like the scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, and, for the necessities of that trying hour, and to meet the demands of the future, it brought forth out of its treasures things new and old.

Although no time was allowed for any change or improvement in the institution of slavery, much work continued to be carried on along the old lines of pastoral ministrations and domestic instructions. The Convention Addresses of Southern Bishops and the meagre parochial reports of the clergy, for many years before the War, abound in references to the work of the clergy and of the masters and mistresses for the slaves. In almost every parish church a certain part of the building was reserved for them, and in many, special services were arranged for them. In the parish church in which I had the happiness to be brought up the Sunday service hi the forenoon was for the white congregation, and the afternoon service was for the colored congregation, quite as numerous as the white. If colored people attended the former service, as they usually did, they had seats in the back of the church: if white people attended the afternoon service, they sat in the gallery. On some of the large plantations churches were built for the negroes, and in many cases, notably, I believe, in South Carolina, special clergymen served these churches. In their private religious instruction Christian parents sometimes taught all the children of the household, white and black, together: in other cases, where, as on plantations, there were many negro children, a Sunday-school for the negro children would be taught at the "great house" or at the "quarters." [The writer was thus taught by his mother every Sunday afternoon,--he and his brother and all the colored children on the place.] Catechisms "for those who cannot read" were published with special reference to the instruction of colored people. In the period just preceding the War many of the negroes were coming into the Church. In South Carolina especially the work of the Church among them was extensive and effective. In the report of the Committee on the State of the Church, in the General Convention of 1859, we find this passage relating to South Carolina:

"About fifty chapels, for the benefit of negroes on plantations, are now in use for the worship of God and the religious instruction of slaves. Many planters employ Missionaries or Catechists for this purpose; many more would do so, if it were possible to procure them. Some of the candidates for Holy Orders are looking forward to this special work. In one parish (All Saints', Waccamaw) are thirteen chapels for negroes, supplied with regular services. The number of negroes attending the services of the Church in this Diocese cannot be shown by statistics; it is very large, and increasing annually."

So successful had this work been in South Carolina that the colored communicants were almost equal to the whites in number; the colored baptisms greatly exceeded the white; the confirmations varied, sometimes greater in number among the whites, sometimes among the negroes. In 1861 the diocesan Journal shows 2979 white communicants and 2973 colored, a difference of only six!

This work in South Carolina suffered very greatly by the War, so much of the seacoast, where the negroes were most numerous and the work of the Church amongst them most extensive, being at an early stage of hostilities occupied by the Federal forces. And it was the same in many other States. But the work did not at all cease or slacken where the Church and its people were free to carry it on. No general statistics have been preserved by which the exact extent and the full fruits of such labors may be known and exhibited; but all through the diocesan Journals, and Episcopal addresses, and Church papers of those times, are references to the work, and accounts of services, and reports of ministrations, abundantly manifesting the faithfulness of clergy and people in the performance of this part of their duty. In 1862 Bishop Davis reports 633 colored baptisms in the Diocese, and eighty-three confirmations; in May, 1864, for the fifteen months preceding, he reports in his Diocese 1210 colored baptisms and 350 confirmations! This is very much in excess of the work in any other Diocese, and is a noble tribute to the Bishop of South Carolina and his clergy.

The Rev. Alexander Glennie, of All Saints' Parish, Waccamaw, was especially known for his successful work among the negroes of the large plantations of his extensive parish. In January, 1862, he sent to Bishop Atkinson a letter, written at the Bishop's request, describing briefly his methods of work, which the Bishop of North Carolina published, for the encouragement and guidance of his own people engaged in the same kind of effort. Mr. Glennie says that the plantations in his parish extended for thirty miles along the river. He speaks of having at times employed two assistants in the work. With these he had services on eight plantations each Sunday. His method was to train his negroes so that they might enjoy habitually the full service of the Church, teaching them all the responses and Canticles, and also some of the "Selections of Psalms," to be used as a substitute for the Psalms for the day. In preaching, he says, he broke up his sermon into short sections, and at the end of each section paused, and before going on catechised the adult members of the congregation upon what he had been saying, thus taking them through the whole sermon in this catechetical exercise. The children were catechised on week-days on the plantations, an hour or an hour and a half being given to this work every two weeks on each plantation. To keep the children interested, the work of instruction was enlivened by frequent singing of hymns. The basis of his instruction to the children was the Church Catechism, with questions and answers explaining and illustrating it, by the Rev. Paul Trapier, and questions and answers on the Prayer Book prepared by himself. On some plantations the master and mistress of the family actively engaged in the religious instruction of the negroes, and the good effect of this was always most marked. He speaks of one plantation on which a catechist had been employed since the death of the former owner, who had been very devoted to the work himself. Sometimes the masters and mistresses assumed the responsibility of being godparents for the negro children at their baptism, sometimes the parents and friends of the children.

On the large plantations efforts were made to require the negroes to be regularly married by the clergyman, and to protect them in the married relation; and Mr. Glennie expresses the hope that there may soon be proper legislation to prevent the separation of husband and wife. Chapels had been built on many of the plantations, some of these being better than many parish churches.

When the negroes resided near enough to attend at the parish church, they received the Communion there, on the regular days of its celebration, with their masters and mistresses and the white congregation; those at a distance attended regular celebrations in the plantation chapels. When he was ordained in 1832, there were ten colored communicants in the parish; there had been added during his ministry 509; the present number was 289. With such work as this going on, it is easy to understand how the numbers of colored communicants in South Carolina, at the beginning of the War, had come to be practically equal to the number of the whites.

And in some measure the same interest and activity in the work appears in almost all the Dioceses. Even in the Empire Diocese of Texas the overworked Missionary Bishop finds time, in the midst of his interminable journeys, to manifest his interest in the negroes; and to his Convention of 1863 he holds up the example of the Primitive Church in its care for the slave, and with much satisfaction calls their attention to the fact that, of the 110 baptisms he reports, thirty were of negro children.

In Mississippi Bishop Green found many of his people in full sympathy with him in his desire and purpose to make the Church a faithful mother to the black people no less than to the white. The situation in 1861 is thus stated in the report of a committee of the Convention of the Diocese in 1865: "Several of our clergy had become deeply interested in, and were laboring with great success among the servants; quite a number of beautiful chapels had been erected in various parts of the Diocese, for their use by pious masters and mistresses, who either themselves devoted every Lord's Day to their religious instruction, or provided them with the services of a clergyman. There was a growing attachment among them to our mode of worship; the number of communicants was steadily increasing, and it was acknowledged by reflecting men of other communions that the sober services of the Church, and our system of religious instruction, were unquestionably the best adapted to the constitution and condition of this class."

Bishop Green's Journal abounds in such entries as the following: Baptized at Mrs. Ann Barrow's twenty-nine negro children, the mistress standing Godmother for them all. "If there be any 'curse' attendant on slavery, as it exists among us, it is the neglect of masters and mistresses, and the Ministers of Christ, to provide for the spiritual welfare of those whose souls, as well as bodies, are committed to our care;" confirmed seven of Mr. Laughlin's servants at his house, prepared by their mistress; at Mrs. Griffith's baptized four negro children, confirmed five; at Mrs. Mercer's baptized nineteen; ministered to a crowded congregation who joined heartily in the responses. Upon failing to keep an appointment to visit the plantation of Col. George S. Yerger, recently deceased, he writes:

"I could with difficulty shake off the feeling of unfaithfulness," although it was the breaking down of the steamboat which caused him to miss the appointment. And he goes on to express his tender solicitude for "those poor blacks, for whose spiritual welfare he [Colonel Yerger] had labored with more of a father's than a master's care." He held service upon another occasion in the parlor at the house of Mrs. Bailey and confirmed seven of her servants. After the service the negroes who had been confirmed presented the Bishop with a handsome private "Communion set"! To his Convention of 1861 he reports having himself baptized, during the preceding year, nine colored adults and ninety-six infants. And his work among the negroes continued until his Diocese began to be overrun, and his Episcopal labors limited and hindered, by the destructive experiences of hostile invasion.

In Alabama the Committee on the State of the Church in 1863 mention the increased interest of the clergy in work among the negroes, and the report of the Committee urges the clergy to be faithful in pressing upon all masters their religious duty to their slaves. In the Bishop's address in 1864 he mentions confirming on one plantation, Faunsdale, Marengo County, twenty negroes at one service. Bishop Green visited this same plantation in 1862, and mentions the chapel built for the negroes by the owner (Mrs. Harrison, afterwards Mrs. Stickney) as "a finished specimen of Ecclesiastical architecture." Special interest and importance attaches to this work in the Dioceses of Mississippi and Alabama, because of the comparative weakness of the Church, and the great preponderance of the black people, in those States.

There was little or no difference of opinion among the masters or others, as to the reality and value of this work among the negroes, though so little of it seemed to survive the terrible experience of emancipation, "Reconstruction," and the introduction of the negro of the South as an important political element in our national economy. It was good work which was done among them before and during the War, by godly masters and mistresses and faithful clergymen, judged by the strictest moral and spiritual tests. One of its invariable effects was the creation of a strong sympathetic bond of attachment between master and slave, as illustrated in the following instance. Mr. Josiah Collins, whose sister Mrs. Harrison has been mentioned as the owner of Faunsdale Plantation, in Marengo County, Alabama, and the builder of the beautiful chapel for her slaves, resided upon a large plantation known as "the Lake," on Lake Scuppernong, in Washington County, N. C. Having a large number of slaves, he built upon his plantation a church for his own family and people, and paid the salary of a clergyman who devoted himself to the work as his parish. For years before the War a succession of able and cultivated men ministered to this congregation, maintaining not only the regular Sunday service and the due celebration of all feasts and fasts of the Church, but usually having also a daily service, which was well attended by those not necessarily engaged in other duties. They also diligently instructed both old and young in Catechism, Bible, and Prayer Book. When the eastern section of the State, including Washington County, had been brought within the power of the Federal forces, and it was no longer possible to prevent the negroes from leaving their owners when they chose to do so, the Collins negroes, following their clergyman, abandoned the plantation, and, transporting their children and their household stuff in the farm wagons, removed several days' journey, a hundred and twenty-five miles inland, to Franklin County, beyond the reach of the Federal forces. [The Rev. George Patterson.] Bishop Atkinson, in his Convention Address of 1864, mentions visiting them, and preaching to them under the trees in their new abode, December 18, 1863.

A word should be said of a very faithful class of negroes, those who accompanied their masters to the War. The personal bond between master and servant in this case was peculiarly close, and the latter very often showed an almost maternal care and solicitude in providing for the comfort and welfare of his master. With every opportunity of escaping to the enemy, where freedom was assured, there were very few instances of it. The only one which I know of personally was caused by ill-treatment of the servant during his master's absence. And years afterwards, after the master's death, came a letter from distant Kansas, in which the runaway servant explained to his master the cause of his desertion, protesting that nothing would have tempted him to leave, if his master had been in the camp at the time to protect him. Some months ago I confirmed an old white-headed colored man in Stokes County, N. C. I was struck with his distinguished manner and venerable appearance. Upon learning his name I found that I had often heard of him from his old mistress, and this is what she had told me. The old man, John Goolsby, was body-servant to her husband, the late Major Peter W. Hairston, during the War. He was very high in his master's confidence, and was well known among his master's friends for his intelligence and integrity of character. Upon one occasion a very distinguished Confederate general, a kinsman of Major Hairston, was in the major's tent, and was interlarding his conversation with 'violent and profane language, unusual in the army, and all the more remarked upon in this particular general on that account. John was in the tent waiting upon his master and his visitor. Seeming at last to be unable to restrain himself, he interrupted the general's profanity with the freedom which a trusted negro servant would sometimes assume: "Look here, Mar's Jube, I don't cuss myself, Sir, and I don't love to hear no body else cuss." I confess that I was interested in meeting a colored man who had the force of character to reprove and the grace to do it without offence, where the offender was so much his superior; and I am proud to number him among my flock.

The Richmond Whig in March, 1863, contained an affecting story of Mat, the negro servant of Capt. Chalmers Glenn, of North Carolina, who attended his master faithfully during the campaigns of the Army of North Virginia, until Captain Glenn's death upon the battlefield of Boonsboro, or South Mountain. Following the orders he had received from his master, Mat buried him near the place of his death, and returned to his old home and to his widowed mistress, delivering to her the messages and valuables with which his master had intrusted him. But from the day of his master's death Mat visibly declined, and in spite of the best medical attention and the kindest nursing he died of a broken heart, February 4, 1863, surviving his master not quite five months. [Clipping from the Charlotte, N. C, Observer, April 30, 1911: "Gastonia, April 29.--An unique feature of the annual memorial day celebration here Wednesday, May 10, will be a dinner served by the local Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, to the slaves who went with their masters to the war, or who, remaining behind, did any service for the cause of the South. There are a good many old slaves in the County who come under this head, and this event promises to be one of unusual interest. Congressman E. Y. Webb of this district will be the orator of the day, and special invitations will be mailed within the next day or so to all the Confederate veterans in the County urging them to be present."]

Perhaps no better words can be found, with which to conclude this consideration of the Church in its relation to the negro under the old system, than those of the Bishop of North Carolina in 1865, when he set before his people the duties arising out of the new relation between the races, created by the results of the war which had just closed.

"I think it right to add a few words on another topic connected with our political condition. It is on our duty to the colored population, lately liberated by the action of the Government of the United States. Some of us have ever feared, that the power and control which the white race possessed over them was not exercised in such a way as to make us acceptable to God, and faithful stewards in His sight. There was much kind feeling towards our servants, which was fully reciprocated by them; there was a good deal of care shown in providing for their bodily wants, but very insufficient attention was paid to their moral and religious improvement. At the same time, I take pleasure in bearing this testimony, which is, I think, very honorable to the masters and mistresses under the old system, that they listened to sharp and pointed rebukes and remonstrances on this subject, not only with patience but with gratitude, that they desired to learn their duty, that they were year by year improving in the discharge of it, that one of the chief cares and labors of a good many men, and of a still larger number of the women, of the South, was the welfare of their servants, and that under the system of slavery in these states the African race has made a progress during the last hundred years, not only in numbers and physical comfort, but a progress from barbarism to civilization, from Heathenism to Christianity, to which the history of the world offers no parallel.... This relation, however, with whatever it had of good, and whatever of evil, being now at an end, but the subjects of it being still in the midst of us, necessarily poor, generally ignorant, and generally improvident, their wants and their dangers must be very great. That, then, which becomes us towards all men, especially becomes us towards them, first to be just, then to be kind. Let us remember then that by our existing political system, in which we have acquiesced, they have a right to wages for their labor. Let us pay these, then, not grudgingly as of necessity, but as an honest debt. ... As Christians we must see to it that we give them 'that which is just and equal, knowing that we also have a master in heaven.' But we ought to be more than just. That is but the Heathen standard of right. As Christians we must aim at something higher. We must remember their ignorance and inexperience.... We must allow for the immediate intoxicating effect of so great and sudden change in their condition. We must keep in mind their general faithfulness in the hour of trial. We must allow for occasional instances of what seems to us folly, or perversity, or ingratitude. We must practise towards them the Apostolical injunctions which are so strikingly enjoined: 'Be pitiful, be courteous.' Their distresses in their new condition are likely to be many and great. Let us be ready to relieve them accordingly as God gives us the means. They are, as a race, peculiarly sensible of courtesy, or the absence of it. They show it abundantly themselves, and they are very much wounded when it is denied to them. They feel contempt or rudeness more than a serious injury. Let us inflict none of these on them. Let us make them feel what is, I believe, most true, that their best friends are among ourselves, and that to us they must look for counsel, and aid, and protection. But above all, let us remember that part of our duty in which, I fear, we have been most deficient, providing for them sound religious instruction. They are in great danger of falling into the hands of mischievous, and sometimes, no doubt, malevolent, fanatics, which would be a great calamity to them, and also to us. Let us endeavor to avert it, by doing what is at any rate our duty, by giving them the true doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, in view [qu: lieu?] of the vain janglings of false teachers. Let us raise up colored congregations in our towns, and let all our clergy feel that one important part of their charge is to teach and to befriend the colored people, and especially to train, as far as they are permitted to do so, the children of that race."

Project Canterbury