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# Wednesday, June 22, 2011
150 Years Ago Today in the Civil War: Religion
Posted by Diane

On a site called Baptists and the American Civil War: In Their Own Words, I found a diary entry by John Beauchamp Jones, a novelist and reporter who went to work for the Confederate government in Richmond. (The site is a digital project by historian Bruce T. Gourley, executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society.)

June 22, 1861, Jones wrote about a chance meeting with Confederate president Jefferson Davis. It begins “Fighting for our homes and holy altars, there is no intermission on Sunday.”

He goes on to describe a chance encounter with Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the office on a Sunday, helping Davis find a letter in his secretary’s office. You can read the entire diary entry here.

A bit from Life in Civil War America about the Baptist denomination of the time:

On the eve of the Civil War, Baptists were one of the largest denominations in the country and among those that were considerably more widespread and influential in the South than in the North.

At the time of the war, there were some 11,219 Baptist churches in the country, with about two-thirds in Southern states (an especially telling proportion when one considers that the white population of the North was about three-and-a-half times larger than that of the South). Value of Baptist church property was an estimated $19,746,378.

In 1845, Northern and Southern Baptists split over the issue of slavery, and the latter formed a separate denomination under the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Other large denominations at the time included Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans and Roman Catholics, though Americans were active in many faiths. Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln was the first US president to use the phrase "One nation under God," but he wasn't baptized and never joined a church.

Here's our listing of organizations for researching religious records.

You can nominate a Civil War event for this series—just click Comments below or e-mail me.


Church records | Civil War | Social History
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