"To lay anew the foundations of a mighty Church": Robert Franklin Bunting Reports the First and Second General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States

Thomas W. Cutrer, Editor

In common with the states of the North American Republic, the synods of the Presbyterian Church in the United States broke into Northern and Southern factions and formed new governments in the spring of 1861. The immediate cause for this ecclesiastical secession movement was, in the view of the highly partisan Thomas Cary Johnson, a Virginia-born Presbyterian minister and church historian, the successful effort of Northern Presbyterians to "usurp the crown rights of the Redeemer" by enacting new terms of church membership and to "prostitute the church to the state" by forcing Southern Presbyterians to support the Federal government against "the governments of their several sovereign States, on pain of ejection from the church."(1) A resolution of the General Assembly, held in Philadelphia on 16 May 1861, did, indeed, declare the church's obligation to "promote and perpetuate, so far as in us lies, the integrity of these United States, and to strengthen, uphold, and encourage the Federal Government in the exercise of all its functions under our noble Constitution." This ruling, generally known as the Gardiner Spring Resolution, essentially required members of the church to swear political allegiance to the government of the United States.(2)

Charles Hodge, a Philadelphia native and professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary, protested that "we do not acknowledge loyalty to our country to be a moral and religious duty," but in the heated atmosphere that followed the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the resolution passed by a vote of 156 to 66, and the Southern wing prepared to organize its own church structure.

Through the summer of 1861, one by one, the Southern presbyteries renounced their connections with the national assembly. In the language of the Presbytery of New Orleans, "in view of the unconstitutional, Erastian, tyrannical, and virtually exscinding act" of the Philadelphia General Assembly, "we do hereby, with a solemn protest against this act, declare, in the fear of God, our connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to be dissolved."(3)

The first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States was held at Augusta, Georgia, 5 December 1861, in the church of Joseph Ruggles Wilson. "The personnel of the Assembly was remarkable," observed Presbyterian theologian and historian Robert Q. Mallard. "The Presbyteries, realizing the gravity of the situation, had sent their oldest, wisest, most experienced, and, in a word, most suitable men."(4)

Among these commissioners was Robert Franklin Bunting, representing the Presbytery of Western Texas. Bunting, a native of Hookstown, Pennsylvania, was a graduate of Washington College, a Presbyterian institution at Washington, Pennsylvania, later to become Washington and Jefferson College,(5) and had earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree at the Princeton Theological Seminary and, concurrently, a Master of Arts at Princeton College.(6)

In 1852, at his own request, he was ordained as an "evangelist to Texas,"(7) where he first became the minister of the Presbyterian Church in the frontier town of LaGrange, consisting of "one elder, four ladies, and a male slave."(8) After three and one-half years of what his son later characterized as a life "adventure, toil, suffering, bereavement, and rich achievements" at LaGrange, illness forced Bunting back to the relative civilization and comfort of San Antonio--a place that he characterized as a "destitute and wicked city."

Although, under his guidance, the Presbyterian Church of San Antonio had, by 1860, grown to be the largest Presbyterian congregation in the state, Bunting's salary never exceeded $965, and in the fall of 1861, "after much prayer for direction," he requested that he be released from his contract. Bunting presided over his final meeting on 25 September 1861 and then headed north to rejoin his wife and daughter, who were then visiting the home of his ardently abolitionist father-in-law in Stubenville, Ohio, planning to offer himself "to any Church where God in His providence may order their residence." (9)

The war intervened, however, and Bunting found himself stranded in Kentucky, unable to cross into the Union without facing arrest. Finding many of his former flock at Bowling Green, enlisted in the ranks of the Eighth Texas Cavalry, he accepted their offer to remain with them as their chaplain. Exactly how or by whom he was appointed as commissioner cannot now be determined, but in December 1861 he took a leave of absence from his regiment to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States.


Augusta, Ga., Nov. [December] 16, 1861

Messr. Editors:--My last letter was written you amid the active scenes of the tent, at the place where men thought only of war. This is dated in the midst of those who are enlisted in another work and who follow after the "Prince of Peace." The former is sometimes a stern necessity, whilst the service of the latter is always a blessed privilege.

The first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States, met in this city on Dec. 5th, in the Presbyterian Church.(10) Dr. Francis McFarland(11) was nominated as presiding officer; Dr. B. M. Palmer,(12) of N. O., then preached the opening sermon from Eph[isians] 1:22 and 23 vs.(13) The discourse was able in thought, powerful in argument, beautiful in language, flowing in eloquence and admirably appropriate to the solemn and most interesting occasion. After the sermon, Dr. McFarland constituted the assembly with prayers, and by acclamation Dr. Palmer was elected moderator.

The role being called, eleven Synods, composed of 47 Presbyteries, were represented by 55 Ministers and 38 Ruling Elders. These latter representing 76,000 members in the Confederacy. Texas, the youngest, though queenliest sister of them all, had her full ministerial representation on the floor the first day. Rev. Dr. Bailey(14) was commissioner from the Presbytery of Brazos; Rev. H. Mosley(15) from East Texas; the Rev. L. Tenney(16) from Central, and your correspondent from the Western. But the eldership failed entirely. We also have from the Creek and Choctaw nations able and venerable Missionaries, who had spent years among those wild people. The organization at once complete from all the Presbyteries in these seceded States, what a work was before us! Here was an assembly of venerable and talented Ministers and Laymen met to lay the foundations of a new church in its outward organization. The necessity of the times had separated them from those whom may have formerly called by the endearing name of "Brethren." Seeking divine guidance, nobly did they undertake the great and glorious work opened up before them. For almost two weeks they have counseled and devised, prayed and debated, planed and constituted, until we now find an organization fully equipped in every department, with perfectly harmonious machinery set in motion. When compared with our old Northern church, whom we venerated and cherished so long and so well, we find, from the experience of the past, there is an improvement in many respects. Perfect unanimity in counsel and harmony in action prevailed, and thus an amount of labor almost incredible has been performed. Schemes have been initiated, and enterprises inaugurated, which will continue to develop and bring forth fruit for all time to come. Influences have been put in motion that will tell with wondrous effect upon this Confederacy in the advancements of religion, education, and intelligence. Debates were earnest and able, for the best talent in the church was largely represented on the floor. I may with propriety say the South has no abler theologians or jurists than these, aided with their wisdom, their counsel, eloquence, and prayer.

Some important changes were inaugurated as to the future of working policy of the Church.--Instead of the "Boards" which have caused so much discussion for years past, in the old "Assembly," we substituted simply "Committees," making some radical changes in their organization, limiting their powers, and holding them directly responsible to the Assembly. The Committee of Foreign Missions was located at Columbia, S. C., with the Rev. Dr. J. L. Wilson(17) for Secretary. The Committee of Domestic Missions at New Orleans, with Dr. John Leyburn(18) for Secretary. The Committee of Education at Memphis, with Dr. John H. Gray(19) for Secretary. The Committee of Publication at Richmond, with Dr. Wm. Brown(20) for Secretary. Thus the benevolent operations of the Church are not centralized as formerly, but scattered throughout our bounds. This plan will interest more, and secure greater co-operation and efficiency. Hence instead of quarreling about management, each section has its home share of responsibility, and its own labors to perform.

A paper was read and unanimously passed looking toward the closer union and communion of Christians--especially those of like faith and order. The Associate Reformed Synod of the South sent their delegate to greet us, and nobly did he discharge his duty. Theirs is a precious ancestry, who gave a noble testimony for the truth, lifting up a glorious banner against error, and battling faithfully for Christ and his crown. For thirty years cut off from the North on the Slavery issue, they have been separated from us on psalmody.--But now we greet this sister Church, and make her an offer of unity and union on this subject. To the United Synod of the Presbyterian Church the Assembly offered Christian salutations, and sends a corresponding delegate, hoping for still closer communion and fellowship in the future. So also to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, fraternal correspondence was proffered. Thus the troubles of our country seem to be breaking down all partition walls between those of the same family, and are opening up the way for their re-union in one household. The two former bodies will doubtless soon be united with this General Assembly and this union will give us some 25,000 more members.

Then destiny, directed by the Providence of God, will ere long bring Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky into the Confederacy, thus introducing 30,000 more into our organization.--Thus united and strengthened, we will present one of the first Presbyterian bodies in the world in numbers and certainly in wealth.--What a noble destiny lies before this Church in these Confederate states! May we have grace to meet the responsibility. The subject of education, in reference to a grand University for the Church, was ably debated in a general educational convention. Initiatory steps were taken towards the accomplishment of this grand scheme. The work among the colored people received such attention as its great importance demands. They are now more than ever commended to our care and spiritual instruction.

The address, to the churches throughout the Earth, setting forth the causes of the separation of the Church in the Confederate States from our brethren in the United States and the views of Southern Presbyterians on the subject of slavery, prepared by the Rev. Dr. Thornwell(21)

of South Carolina, is one of the greatest papers of the age and is sufficient to immortalize the name and memory of any man.(22) In short, we assembled twelve days ago to lay anew the foundations of a mighty Church and we separate with all its vast machinery just in working order and fully set in motion. We adjourned to-night, to meet in Memphis, Tenn., on the 1st Wednesday of next May at 11 a.m. Delightful and precious will be the remembrances of this Assembly. It forms an era of momentous interest in the history of Presbyterianism in these Confederate States. The "4th of Dec." will hereafter be a sacred anniversary with us and our children. Glorious memories cluster around it, and hallowed avocations are entwined in it.

The people of this flourishing and beautiful city have received us with Christian cordiality and unbounded hospitality, whilst the kindness of good Province has smiled upon us in two weeks of the most remarkable weather ever experienced here at this season of the year. It has reminded me of your magnificent fall weather--still clear, so bracing and yet so balmy--only a little more frosty at night,--not a cloud has come over us by day, and a silver moon has made the darkness almost light as noon-day.

Our beginning has been in every respect most propitious. We recognize God's hand in it and by faith we interpret it as prophetic of our future prosperity as a Church. Surely ours is now a peculiar lot. Here in this beautiful city, which sits queenlike in the valley of the crooked Savannah, are assembled Commissioners from every Presbytery in these Confederate States, quietly legislating about the spiritual interests of our people and initiating measures for the building up of the kingdom of the Prince of Peace. Whilst but a short distance below us the enemy's ships are blockading our river and his dreaded guns of war are booming out a salute over the ruins of a sister city, laid half in ashes by the incendiary's torch. Surely we live in stirring times. Strange scenes are all around us. But God reigns, therefore will we not fear.

R. F. B.(23)


[General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America; Montgomery, Alabama, May 1862]


Bunting once again left his regiment to attend the Second general Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States, arriving in Montgomery on 3 May 1862. although he again presented himself as the representative of the Presbytery of Western Texas, Bunting "appeared without a commission," but, "having made a satisfactory explanation of this fact," he was enrolled as a additional commissioner.(24)


Montgomery, Ala., May 6 [1862]

Ed. Telegraph--My last letter was dated in the camp, where men think of cruel war. The fearful conflict of Shiloh was just over, and we were amidst the wounded and dying. But how changed the scene! Here are assembled those who follow the Prince of Peace, and far away from the din of battle they have met to consult concerning the interests of the church which they represent, and the advancement of that spiritual kingdom which will endure when the nations shall learn war no more.

I can scarce realize the change. Here, among these venerable and holy men, the spirit of love and peace and hope reigns, and in humble reliance upon the God of our fathers, they go forward in their glorious work. Would that such feelings should constrain those engaged in our country's service, and that such an atmosphere was felt on the tented field.

In view of the presence of the conflicting armies in the vicinity of the city of Memphis, and the consequent danger and difficulty of assembling in that place; in accordance with the recommendation of the last Moderator, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America met, according to proclamation, in the Presbyterian Church in the city of Montgomery on Thursday, May 1st, at 11 o'clock a.m. The last Moderator, Rev. B. M. Palmer, D.D., of New Orleans, being absent, on motion the Rev. J. L. Kirkpatrick,(25) D.D., of North Carolina, was appointed to preach the sermon and preside until a Moderator could be chosen.

Dr. K[irkpatrick] preached a solemn, eloquent and able sermon from Romans, 8th chap., 17th verse.(26)

Commissioners were then enrolled from the following Synods, complete in ministerial representation, partially in the Eldership, viz: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia (except two Presbyteries); the Synod of Mississippi (three Presbyteries); the Synods of Memphis, Nashville and Texas, (one Presbytery each); and the Synod of Arkansas, no commissioner--making a total of thirty-one Ministers and sixteen Ruling Elders, your correspondent representing the Presbytery of Western Texas, and the only Commissioner west of the Mississippi.

Twenty Presbyteries had no Commissioners present. Dr. Kirkpatrick was chosen Moderator, and Dr. E. T. Baird,(27) of Mississippi, acting Stated Clerk in the absence of Dr. [John N.] Waddel(28) and Dr. [T. L.] McBryde(29) of South Carolina, Temporary Clerk.

One-half hour was spent each morning in devotional exercises with reference to the distracted state of the country.

Dr. John Leyburn presented the report on domestic missions which is located in New Orleans. The Committee has been in successful operation since the last assembly, and until interrupted by the enemy was doing a good work. Dr. L., being a refugee from New Orleans, was authorized to select a temporary location for the Committee's operations, he being allowed to choose a temporary Committee to aid him wherever a place of safety may be found. He will doubtless stop for the present at Macon, Ga.

Dr. J. Leighton Wilson presented an interesting report from the Committee of Foreign Missions. It showed a most liberal and commendable spirit of liberality among our churches, toward that noble object. Notwithstanding the war has separated us from intercourse with other nations, leaving only to our care the Indian tribes west of the Mississippi, and from these now partially separated, yet the contributions of many have not been curtailed. This is a hopeful sign for the future. The committees on education and publication were not represented by their secretaries, and their reports failed from the irregularities of the mails. The secretaries were all re-elected and in general the committees, they being also authorized to make such temporary changes as circumstances may demand, and all needful arrangement for the security and transmission of funds entrusted to them.

No corresponding delegates were present, because such bodies have held no meetings since our last assembly. Those appointed [to] them to represent us were continued for this Spring's meeting of such bodies and new delegates for next Spring.

The committees on the revision of the book of Discipline and the University and the instruction of slaves were continued. The Presbytery of New Orleans overtured the Assembly that, "in order to secure uniformity of procedure and relieve Presbyteries from embarrassment, to pass an act authorizing the Presbyteries to receive such ministers as may come from the Old School General Assembly North, without the usual letters of dismission upon affording satisfactory evidence of their good standing, and making the usual statement of their doctrinal views." It was agreed to, directing that they pass the usual examinations on experimental religion, Didactic and Polemic Theology, and church government.

Dr. Baird prepared and presented an able pastoral letter addressed to the ministers and members of our churches and the youth of our congregations now in the army, fighting the battles of our national independence. It was ordered to be printed for distribution. It was recommended that on the last Sabbath of every month, the baptized young men of the army should be the special object of prayer.

The day of prayer for institutions of learning and the youth of both sexes there receiving an education, was changed from December to the last Thursday of February, which has so long been observed. The members of the Assembly filled the pulpits of the city on the Sabbath, and every night was occupied by preaching in the Presbyterian Church.

The state of our Confederacy had prevented many from attending and made those present anxious for their families and homes. Hence, the entire absence of speech-making and useless debate. The sessions were most delightful and perfectly harmonious.

On Monday night, the 5th, the Assembly adjourned to meet in Columbia, S.C., on the first Thursday in May, 1863, at 11 a.m. There was one remarkable feature in this meeting, no application for leave of absence was asked during the sessions.

Thus closed the second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America. Those wishing minutes can have them when the mails open, by forwarding four bits [i.e., fifty cents] to the Rev. Dr. J. R. Wilson,(30) Augusta, Ga. I have given you this brief synopsis, as the mails will prevent the religious papers from reaching your State. We regret the calamity that separates us from our homes and loved ones and from intercourse with our sunny land, but we believe God yet rules, and we hope that all will yet be well.

I return at once to Corinth. We are expecting the great battle to open every day. It cannot be long delayed.

I remain yours,

R. F. Bunting(31)


1. Thomas Cary Johnson, History of the Southern Presbyterian Church (New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1894), 324.

2. Joseph M. Wilson, The Presbyterian Historical Almanac and Annual Remembrancer of the Church for 1862, (Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson, 1862), 69-79.

3. B. M. Palmer, Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell, D.D., LL.D. (Richmond: Whittet and Sheperdson, 1875), 502-503.

4. Robert Q. Mallard, Plantation Life before the War (Richmond: Whittet and Shepperson, 1892), 176-177.

5. Henry Stanhope Bunting, "Biography of Robert Franklin Bunting," 5; Robert F. Bunting, Manual of the First Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tenn., with a Brief History from Its Organization, November 1814, to November 1868 (Nashville: Southern Methodist Publishing House, 1868), 43.

6. Bunting, "Biography of Robert Franklin Bunting," 6.

7. Bunting, "Biography of Robert Franklin Bunting," 7.

8. Bunting, "Biography of Robert Franklin Bunting," 9-10.

9. Encyclopedia of the New West, 390-391; Donald E. Everett, Adobe Walls to Stone Edifice: A Sesquicentennial Pilgrimage of the First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, Texas, 1846-1995 (First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, 1995), 20, 23, 31-32.

10. The proceedings of this assembly were published as Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America (Augusta: Steam Power Press, 1862). For a narrative history of the First General Assembly, see Ernest Trice Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 13-35.

11. Francis McFarland (1788-1871), a graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary, was the commissioner from the Lexington Presbytery, Synod of Virginia. He served two pastorates at the Bethel Presbyterian Church (1823-1836, 1841-1871) in Augusta County, Virginia, and was twice a Trustee of Washington College. In 1856 he served as moderator of the General Assembly held in New York City. Unreconstructed to the end, upon learning of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the attempt on the life of William H. Seward he wrote, "They certainly deserved to die, but it is sad that death came in that form and that they should be plunged into eternity with so much blood on their souls." Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 15; Edward L. Ayers, Anne Sarah Rubin, and William G. Thomas, III, The Valley of the Shadow.

12. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, regarded as "the leading pulpit orator in the South," was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1838 and was ordained in 1841, becoming pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Savannah, Georgia. In 1843 he became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, South Carolina. In 1852 he earned the doctor of divinity degree at the University of Georgia, and from 1853 until he was 1856 professor of ecclesiastical history at the Columbia Theological Seminary. In 1856 Palmer became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans. A proponent of secession, he served as a missionary to the Army of Tennessee. In 1870 he earned the LL.D. at the Western College of Missouri. He was the author of Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell, D.D., LL.D. (Richmond: Whittet and Sheperdson, 1875). Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, I, 504, 571; Edgar Sutton Robinson, ed., Ministerial Directory of the Ministers in the Presbyterian Church of the United States (Southern), (Oxford, Ohio: Ministerial Directory Company, 1898), I, 73.

13. God "gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all." According to Thomas Cary Johnson, "the Assembly honored itself by directing the publication of the sermon in the appendix to the minutes. So far as we know, it is the only sermon which has been so published in the history of our church." Johnson, History of the Southern Presbyterian Church, 338.

14. Rufus William Bailey was born in North Yarmouth, Maine, on 13 April 1793. He graduated as a Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth in 1813, studied law under Daniel Webster, and returned to Dartmouth to teach. Later he taught in Virginia where he helped to establish Mary Baldwin Seminary. In 1854 he moved to Texas and in 1855 accepted the chair of languages at Austin College at Huntsville; on 15 December 1858 he received appointment as its third president. Bailey was a prolific writer, best known for his textbooks on spelling and grammar. He resigned from Austin College in 1862 because of ill health and died on 25 April 1863. Dictionary of American Biography, xxx; Robinson, ed., Ministerial Directory of the Presbyterian Church, xxx.

15. Rev. Hubbard[?] Mosley [Moseley?]. A W. H. Mosley was listed as a resident of Huntsville, Walker County, Texas in the 1860 census. Was he associated with Austin College at Huntsville? Hubbard's Chapel Baptist Church at the Wood County community of Concord, Texas, was named for Hubbard Moseley, and early settler of the region who donated land to the church. [HOT] light cummings

16. Levi Tenney was born in Plainfield Township, Otsego County, New York. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1846 and a master's degree in 1849 at Hamilton College and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in the Presbytery of the Brazos in 1854, ministering to churches in Belton, Georgetown, Waco, and several other Texas communities. He was the editor of the Texas Presbyterian and the author of History of the Presbytery of Central Texas from its Organization, April 1854-93. Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 251; Robinson, ed., Ministerial Directory, I, 95.

17. John Leighton Wilson, formerly a missionary in western Africa, was elected clerk of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America and as Secretary of the Committee on Foreign Missions by the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America on 4 December 1861. Responsible for both foreign and domestic missions by 1864, Wilson was especially active in recruiting chaplains for Confederate service. He retired in 1885 and died in 1886. Robert L. Dabney believed that Wilson "wielded more real power in the Southern Presbyterian Church than any other man in it. Everyone," he wrote, "was sure of the purity of his aims. Always modest and conciliatory, yet he was perfectly candid and manly. He practiced no arts nor policies, but relied solely upon the appeals of fact and reasoning to the consciences of his brethren." Another colleague observed that he was "six feet or more in height and massive in proportion, reminding one of the Doric order of architecture." Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, I, 571; II, 20-23, 40, 41, 292-293, 306.

18. John Leyburn, a native of Virginia and a graduate of Washington College and the Union Theological Seminary, was appointed secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Publication in 1848. In 1850 he became co-owner and editor of The Presbyterian, published in Philadelphia. With the South's secession he moved to New Orleans where he was residing when he was elected secretary of Executive Committee on Domestic Missions by the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America in December 1861. At the second General Assembly, in May 1862, he was elected secretary of Publications. Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, I, 298; II, 23, 63, 230-231.

19. John H. Gray, pastor of the Presbyterian church of LaGrange, Tennessee, and president of the LaGrange Presbyterian College, was appointed by the General Assembly as secretary of the Executive Committee on Education with a mandate to "dispense aid, in prosecuting their education, to such candidates for the Gospel Ministry as may be recommended to them by the presbyteries." Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 19.

20. William Brown of Richmond, Virginia, was editor of the Central Presbyterian. Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 145.

21. James Henley Thornwell, "the Calhoun of the Church," was born in Marlborough District, South Carolina, on 9 December 1812 and was graduated from South Carolina College in 1829. He abandoned the study of law to devote himself to the Presbyterian ministry. In 1836 he was appointed Professor of Logic and Belles-Lettres at the South Carolina College. In 1842 he became Professor of the Evidences of Christianity and Chaplain, and, in 1852, President of the college. In 1856 he became a professor in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Columbia. For a short time he was pastor of the Globe Street Presbyterian Church in Charleston. Widely regarded as was one of the ablest men that the South has produced, Thornwell is said to have possessed "logical and metaphysical faculties of a high order" as well as a fine literary style and "an easy and effective address." He was an uncompromising champion of old-school Presbyterian theology, and in politics was an advocate of extreme Southern views. He was the author of several published sermons and addresses, Arguments of Romanists Discussed and Refuted (1845); Discourses on Truth (1854); Rights and Duties of Masters (1861); The State of the Country (1861); and numerous articles in defense of slavery and secession in the Southern Presbyterian Review. His last pamphlet, Our Danger and Our Duty, went through five known editions from 1862 through 1864. Thornwell died in Charlotte, North Carolina, 1 August 1862. James Oscar Farmer, The Metaphysical Confederacy: James Henley Thornwell and the Synthesis of Southern Values (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1986). For Thornwell's participation in the First General Assembly, see Benjamin Morgan Palmer, Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell (Richmond: Whittwet & Shepperson, 1875), 502-509.

22. Positing that "the antagonism of Northern and Southern sentiments on the subject of slavery lies at the root of all the difficulties which have resulted in the dismemberment of the Federal Union" and the Presbyterian Church, Thornwell asks the rhetorical question, "Is slavery, then, a sin?" Based upon the notion that "the only rule of judgment is the written word of God," he concludes that if opinions were drawn only from the Bible, "it would no more have entered into any human head to denounce slavery as a sin, than to denounce monarchy, aristocracy, or poverty." Indeed, Thornwell viewed slavery as "a gracious act of Providence," for by being carried to America in chains, Africans were "redeemed from the bondage of barbarism and sin."

23. This letter was originally published in the San Antonio Herald, 4 January 1862.

24. Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America (Augusta, Ga.: Steam Power Press Chronicle & Sentinel, 1862), 9. Bunting also served as commissioner to the Third General Assembly in 1864, but his correspondence from that meeting has not survived.

25. John L. Kirkpatrick of North Carolina, the former president of Davidson College, was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America in May 1862. After the War he was appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy at Washington College--later Washington and Lee University. Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 363.

26. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ."

27. E. T. Baird, a native of Pennsylvania, had taught school, studied law, and served as president of Washington College before becoming pastor of the Presbyterian church at Carrollton, Mississippi. As a representative from the Synod of Mississippi, he was elected Secretary of the Executive Committee on Publication by the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America in December 1861 and Stated Clerk of the Second General Assembly, May 1862. During the War he served as a chaplain in the Army of Tennessee. Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 19, 96, 332; Bennett, The Great Revival, 283.

28. John N. Waddel, formerly a member of the faculty of the University of Mississippi, was president of and professor in the Synodical College, Lagrange, Tennessee, in 1861. As his students left the college to join the army, however, Waddel closed the college, as he "enthusiastically endorsed the martial aims of his young scholars." In December of that year he was elected a member of the executive committee of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America. He returned to the University of Mississippi as president and then chancellor, serving for nine years until "the interference of the carpetbag dynasty made the place unacceptable." He then served briefly as Secretary of the Board of Education of the Southern Church until 1879 when he was appointed the first chancellor of Southwestern Presbyterian University in Clarkesville, Tennessee. Waddel was characterized in the Central Presbyterian (1 June 1881) as "conservative by age, wisdom, and experience." Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 15, 17, 71, 356.

29. T. L. McBryde, D. D., was born on 25 February 1817. He was the founder and, from June 1842 through January 1843, director of the mission of the American Presbyterian Board at Amoy, China. In 1862 he was a resident of Pendleton, South Carolina, and president of the local bible Society. He died on 15 April 1863 and is buried at the Old Stone Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Pickens County, South Carolina. Proceedings of the State Bible Convention of South Carolina, Held at Columbia, Sept. 17 and 18, 1862; with a Sermon Preached before the Convention, by the Rev. George Howe, D.D. (Columbia: State Bible Convention of South Carolina, 1862), 13.

30. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, "a tall, pale, thin, intellectual looking man," said to possess "a devilish sense of humor," attended the academy at Stubenville, Ohio, and Jefferson College in Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania, before entering the Princeton Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1849 and called to his first church, in Staunton, Virginia, in 1855. In 1858 he became minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia, where, in December 1861, he hosted the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States, for which he was elected Stated Clerk. In 1870 he received appointment as professor of pastoral theology at South Carolina's Columbia Theological Seminary. He died in January 1902 and is buried at Columbia. Wilson was the father of future-president Woodrow Wilson. Thompson, Presbyterians in the South, II, 17, 93, 369; August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991), 9-12.

31. This letter was originally published in the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph, 2 June 1862.



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This article published 10/03

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