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Doc. 199. the Presbyterians and the war.


Correspondence between the Synod of New York and New Jersey and the Secretary of State.

dear sir: As directed by the Synod of New York and New Jersey, I forward herewith, together with the accompanying minutes, a copy of the paper on the state of the country, adopted by that body during its recent session in Newark, N. J. Respectfully yours,

O. M. Johnson. Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State,


Extract from the minutes of the Synod of New York and New Jersey.

The Rev. Messrs. James P. Wilson, D. D., William Adams, D. D., William W. Newell, D. D., and Hon. William Pennington and Hon. Edward A. Lambert, Elders, were appointed a committee to prepare a minute in relation to the present condition of the country.

The committee appointed to prepare a minute in relation to the present condition of our country, reported the following preamble and resolutions, which were adopted unanimously:

Whereas, the people of these United States, after the achievement of their independence, established a government based on constitutional liberty, giving to all just and equal rights; and

Whereas, a portion of the people of these United States have taken up arms against the lawful Government, seized upon its property, and are endeavoring to overthrow it — a government in which are centred our dearest hopes and interests pertaining to civil liberty and the advancement of civilization throughout the world; and

Whereas, the Presbyterian Church in the United States has ever shown herself, in all her history, the advocate of civil liberty and freedom — that freedom, the defence of which drove our fathers from the Old World, and for the security of which, in this land, they prayed and fought and bled, ever lifting their voice and hands against anarchy and tyranny and oppression in every form; and believing that the present solemn crisis in our national affairs calls upon us as patriots and Christians to lay upon the altar of our country our influence, our property, and our lives; therefore,

Resolved, That we pledge to the Government our individual support and confidence, and will use all lawful means and efforts in our power to aid it in maintaining its authority and in putting down this rebellion, in its very nature so utterly causeless and unjust.

Resolved, That we commend the President of the United States, his constitutional advisers, the American Congress, the Commander-in-Chief and soldiers of the army and navy, to the God of our fathers, humbly praying that He will impart to them wisdom and unity in counsels, and fidelity and courage in action, that the cause intrusted to their hands may be brought to a speedy and successful issue.

Resolved, That while we do not feel called upon to add any thing to the repeated testimonials of our church on the subject of slavery, nor to offer any advice to the Government on the subject, still, fully believing that it lies at the foundation of all our present national troubles, we recommend to all our people to pray more earnestly than ever for its removal, and that the time may speedily come when God, by his providence, shall, in his own good time and way, bring it to an end, that nothing may be left of it but the painful record of its past existence.

Resolved, That we recommend to all our people to humble themselves, and take a low place before God, in view of all our social and political sins, and each one remember and lament his own personal complicity with them all.


Reply of Secretary Seward.

Department of State, Washington, November 27, 1861.
To the Synod of New York and New Jersey:
Reverend gentlemen: The minute, containing your resolutions on the condition of the country, which you directed to be sent to me, has been submitted to the President of the United States.

I am instructed to express to you his great satisfaction with those proceedings, which are [436] distinguished equally by their patriotic sentiments and a purely Christian spirit. It is a just tribute to our system of government, that it has enabled the American people to enjoy unmolested more of the blessings of Divine Providence, which affect the material conditions of human society, than any other people ever enjoyed, together with a more absolute degree of religious liberty, than, before the institution of that great government, had ever been hoped for among men. The overthrow of the Government, therefore, might justly be regarded as a calamity, not only to this nation, but a misfortune to mankind. The President is assured of the public virtue and of the public valor. But these are unavailing without the favor of God. The President thanks you for the invocations of that indispensable support, and he earnestly solicits the same invocations from all classes and conditions of men. Believing that these prayers will not be denied by the God of our fathers, he trusts and expects that the result of this most unhappy attempt at revolution will confirm and strengthen the Union of the republic, and ultimately renew the fraternal affections among its members, so essential to a restoration of the public welfare and happiness.

I am, very sincerely, your very humble servant,


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