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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
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.
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