I. The Synod of Kentucky and Slavery.It is stated on page 119 that “the Synod of Kentucky adopted a report on Slavery which condemned slaveholding broadly and thoroughly,” etc. That statement is not literally accurate. The Synod met at Danville, in the Autumn of 1835, and appointed a Committee of ten — five ministers and five elders — who were instructed to “digest and prepare a plan for the moral and religious instruction of our slaves, and for their future emancipation,” etc. The Committee did its duty faithfully, and the report in due time appeared — its character being such as is indicated in the text. The result was duly submitted to the Synod at its next meeting, at Bardstown, in 1836; but no action was taken thereon, beyond noting on the Synod's records the reception of the report, which had meantime been printed, and had excited some feeling among the slaveholders.
Ii. New school Presbyterians condemn the institution.The statement on page 120, respecting the attitude of the New School Presbyterian Church toward Slavery, is held by members of that Church to require qualification, in view of its more recent action on the subject. The material facts are as follows: At the session of the General Assembly at Cleveland, Ohio, for 1857, a report on Slavery of the Committee on Bills and Overtures, after having been debated with great animation for the better part of a week, was finally adopted (June 3d), by the decisive majority of 169 yeas to 26 nays. This report is largely devoted to a recital of the former testimonies of the Presbyterian Church on the general subject, and is leveled at the new Southern doctrine that Slavery is essentially beneficent and just — a doctrine notoriously at variance with that originally maintained by this Church. The Report says:
We are especially pained by the fact that the Presbytery of Lexington, South, have given official notice to us that a number of ministers and ruling elders, as well as many church-members, in their connection, hold slaves “from principle” and “of choice,” “believing it to be, according to the Bible, right,” and have, without any qualifying explanation, assumed the responsibility of sustaining such ministers, elders, and church-members, in their position. We deem it our duty, in the exercise of our constitutional authority, “to bear testimony against error in doctrine, or immorality in practice, in any church, Presbytery, or Synod,” to disapprove and earnestly condemn the position which has been thus assumed by the Presbytery of Lexington, South, as one which is opposed to the established convictions of the Presbyterian Church, and must operate to mar its peace and seriously hinder its prosperity, as well as bring reproach on our holy religion; and we do hereby call on the Presbytery to review and rectify their position. Such doctrine and practice cannot be permanently tolerated in the Presbyterian Church. May they speedily melt away under the illuminating and mellowing influence of the Gospel and grace of God our Saviour! We do not, indeed, pronounce a sentence of indiscriminate condemnation upon all our brethren who are, unfortunately, connected with the system of Slavery. We tenderly sympathize with all those who deplore the evil, and are honestly doing all in their power for the present well-being of their slaves, and for their complete emancipation. We would aid, and not embarrass, such brethren. And yet, in the language of the General Assembly of 1818, we would “earnestly warn them against unduly extending the plea of necessity; against making it a cover for the love and practice of Slavery, or a pretense for not using efforts that are lawful and practicable to extinguish this evil.”Upon the announcement of this vote, Rev. James G. Hamner, of the Synod of Virginia, presented the protest of twenty-two Southern members of the Assembly against this doctrine of the Report, saying:
We protest — Because, while past General Assemblies have asserted that the system of Slavery is wrong, they have heretofore affirmed that the slaveholder was so controlled by State laws, obligations of guardianship, and humanity, that he was, as thus situated, without censure or odium as the master. This averment in the testimony of past Assemblies has so far satisfied the South, as to make it unnecessary to do more than protest against the mere anti-Slavery part of such testimony. We protest, then, now, That the present act of the Assembly is such an assertion, without authority from the word of God, or the organic law of the Presbyterian body. We protest that such action is, under present conditions, the virtual exscinding of the South, whatever be the motives of those who vote the deed. We protest, that such indirect excision is unrighteous, oppressive, uncalled for — the exercise of usurped power — destructive of the unity of the Church — hurtful to the North and the South--and adding to the peril of the Union of these United States.From the date of this action — which seems to have been but a more explicit reaffirmance of the older testimonies of the Church against Slavery, and to have stopped far short of declaring slaveholding inconsistent with the Christian character — the New School Presbyterian Church had hardly a foothold in the Slave States.
III. the Albany evening Journal on Gov. Seward and Judge Campbell.The Albany Evening Journal of May 20th, 1861, commenting on a very abusive attack on Gov. Seward, in a then recent Richmond Whig, with regard to his assurances to or through Judge Campbell, respecting Fort Sumter, says:
If the Secretary of State were at liberty to reply to ex-Judge Campbell, revealing all that passed between them on several occasions, not only no imputation of insincerity would rest upon the Secretary, but the facts would seriously affect Judge Campbell's well-established reputation for candor and frankness. These revelations would furnish no evidence of either the “falsehood” or “duplicity” of Governor Seward; for there was nothing of either in his conversations. We violate no confidence in saying that Judge Campbell balanced long between Loyalty and Secession; the preponderance, up to a late day, being in favor of the Union. If he at any time looked with favor or satisfaction upon Secession, he was much and generally misunderstood. If he did not seriously contemplate remaining in the Union and upon the Bench, he was misunderstood. If, during that period of mental trial, he was acting in harmony with the leading enemies of the Union, he was grossly misunderstood. That Gov. Seward conversed freely with Judge Campbell, we do not deny; nor do we doubt, that, in those conversations, at one period, he intimated that Fort Sumter would be evacuated. He certainly believed so; founding his opinion upon a knowledge of Gen. Scott's recommendation. Subsequently, the President deemed it his duty to authorize an effort to reenforce and provision that fortress. We do not know whether Gov. Seward met Judge Campbell after that change of purpose; but he was not at liberty, if they did meet, to reveal what was so well kept. But, whatever Gov. Seward said or intimated to Judge Campbell, was true at the time it was said. That Judge Campbell reported to the Confederate President half that he said or intimated, is more than doubtful.
Fort Sumter was impelled by a stringent, imperative political necessity — that hostilities were inaugurated, to prevent the else inevitable crumbling away and utter collapse of the Confederacy — has received additional confirmation since that portion of this work was stereotyped, through an averment of Hon. Jere. Clemens, late U. S. Senator from Alabama, who, in a Union meeting held at the city of his residence, Huntsville, Ala., March 13, 1864, said:
Before I declare this meeting adjourned, I wish to state a fact in relation to the commencement of the war: Some time after the ordinance of Secession was passed. I was in Montgomery, and called upon President Davis, who was in that city. Davis, Memminger, the Secretary of War, Gilchrist, the member from Lowndes County, and several others, were present. As I entered, the conversation ceased. They were evidently discussing the propriety of firing upon Fort Sumter. Two or three of them withdrew to a corner of the room; and I heard Gilchrist say to the Secretary of War, “It must be done. Delay two months, and Alabama stays in the Union. You must sprinkle blood in the faces of the people.”The Secretary of War in question was Mr. Leroy Pope Walker, also a citizen of Huntsville, who made, the evening after Fort Sumter's surrender, a public proclamation that the Rebels would have possession of Washington City within a month. He was an original Secessionist; while Senator Clemens, with most of the people of their county (Madison), clung to the Union, so long as they could with safety. That Mr. Clemens has fabricated such a statement with regard to two of his neighbors, by whom it might so easily be refuted, if untrue, will hardly be suggested.
V. The confidence of the Rebels--Russell on the capture of Washington.That the speedy capture and occupation of Washington by the Confederates were confidently anticipated by their chiefs, as among the earliest and most inevitable results of the War they were inaugurating, has, perhaps, been sufficiently established in due course; but, since the Governors of Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, with others, boldly and broadly charged President Lincoln with wantonly inaugurating civil war, by his Proclamation calling out 75,000 militia for the defense of the Federal metropolis, it may be proper to accumulate evidence on this head. Here is what Wm. H. Russell, The Times's correspondent, who was in the South when Sumter was reduced, records in his “Diary,” under the date of April 20th, 1861, just after dining at Charleston with W. H. Trescott, W. Porcher Miles, Gov. Manning, and other pioneers of Disunion:
The Secessionists are in great delight over Gov. Letcher's proclamation, calling out troops and volunteers; and it is hinted that Washington will be attacked, and the nest of Black Republican vermin, which haunt the capital, be driven out.