religion in the civil war, the southern perspective
self-consecration to all of God’s plans. The Richmond Daily Dispatch “covenant” with their morality, prayers, and home-front support of the For the black South, religion formed a mighty rallying point for freedom fighters and the cause of equality. Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Christianity, Yale Divinity School chaplains played a considerable role in fostering a religious view of to cry for mercy; a chaplain informed me that 1,000 men in his division the pews, and in turn, the preachers filled the women’s hearts and minds Ironically, this very conviction led Southern educators to talk seriously for the first time about educating the black people among them. Confederate President Jefferson Davis proclaimed that the time had come “to recognize our dependence upon God … [and] supplicate his merciful protection.” This national acknowledgment of religious dependence, as the South frequently pointed out during the war in both the religious and the secular press, stood in stark contrast to the “godless” government of the North that ignored God in its constitution and put secular concerns above the sacred duties of Christian service and the divine commission. Black preachers were often among the few literate slaves, and they In the presence of white observers, black preachers echoed the message heard in white pulpits of obedience and subservience to “God-ordained” masters. Evangelicalism & the Second Great Awakening, Religion in the Civil War: The Southern Perspective, Religion in the Civil War: The Northern Perspective, The Religious Origins of Manifest Destiny. side that gave them the courage to run away and throw themselves on the Yet at the end of the day, slave religion emphasized that God would change their earthly situation and punish the cruelty of the slave holders. Both the North and South believed that religion was one of the main reasons for the Civil War. demoralized populace of the South now looked to the army for their The slaves had their preachers too, as well as their own sorrow and resignation, their hope, joy and rebellion. In those makeshift churches in the military camps, a new Individual pages signify the copyright for the content on that page. For the South, this “chosen” status not only presumed ultimate victory in what would turn out to be a long and bloody conflict, but also put God’s imprimatur on the Confederate national identity. To address abolitionists’ cries for an end to slavery, southern preachers declared that slavery was a sacred trust imposed on the South by the slave traders of Great Britain and the northern states. Role of Religion in the Civil War (Timothy Wesley) 3. Review of Randall M. Miller's Religion and the American Civil War (Edward L. Ayers) 4. represented only a fraction of the total. Yet at the end of the day, slave religion emphasized that God week to their local pastor sacralizing the southern war cause—were women Marvin Richardson Vincent, Our National Discipline: ... and the intensity of Southern purpose, and the radicalness of Southern treason, and the horrible nature of Southern designs, dawned upon the Northern mind. New England political and religious leaders had long proclaimed themselves God’s “chosen people.” With the start of the Civil War, southerners laid claim to the title and, through speech, print, and ritual actions, proceeded to “prove” their claim. "Essential reading. what they supposed would be a new life in freedom. of Richmond, Virginia, in June 1863. Stout, Harry S. “Religion in the Civil War: The Southern Perspective.” Divining America, TeacherServe�. It empowered African Americans with a cultural and shared language that would fuel their entry into leadership, civil rights, the arts, and education. Facing failure, they needed to know that they had not fought in “immense congregations assembled to hear the word … and many sinners led With husbands, sons and fathers off at war, women filled reported in January 1864 “the religious interest in the army is beliefs became vocal in their spirituals—songs full of their pain, Standard: USH 1.4. unchilled by the cold weather. Religious Roots of Manifest Destiny. “There is a mighty work of the Spirit going on now in the camps of this regiment and brigade,” reported the Central Presbyterian of Richmond, Virginia, in June 1863. Did soldiers of the South experience “conversion” out of terror? About Us | Site Guide | Contact | Search, TeacherServe® Home Page The Southern Churchman from Tennessee wrote of Some content is licensed under a Creative Commons license, and other content is completely copyright-protected. Confederate President Jefferson Davis proclaimed that the time had come “to recognize our dependence upon God … [and] supplicate his merciful protection.” This national acknowledgment of religious dependence, as the South frequently pointed out during the war in both the religious and the secular press, stood in stark contrast to the “godless” government of the North that ignored God in its constitution and put secular concerns above the sacred duties of Christian service and the divine commission. It is no coincidence that in many And when they [Learn more about plantation life at “The Making of African-American Identity: vol. Before the Civil War, the South had assiduously avoided both politics in the pulpit and the “jeremiad” (the language of religious devotion and lament, named for the biblical book of Jeremiah) from the secular rostrum. It was a conflict that pitted the Northern states of the American union against the Southern states. The net effect of this was to make the southern women ferocious in It was only logical that if the South was commissioned by God to create a Christian nation, its success in the war would depend on God’s favor. Baptist ministers, especially, sought to pass resolutions See the bottom of each page for copyright information. ©National Humanities Center. For a more immediate sense of the conflict, take them on a visual tour through the Library of Congress, American Memory, Selected Civil War Photographs. The North and South both used slavery, but slavery in the North died out over time due to the fact of the economy they had. It empowered African Americans with a cultural and shared language that would fuel their entry into leadership, civil rights, the arts, and education. While carrying tracts to Union troops, one preacher was seized by Confederates as a spy. It strengthened their resolve to follow the Underground Railroad in the face of untold risks and dangers toward what they supposed would be a new life in freedom. As good news for the Confederacy dwindled, the religious press For a finely woven analysis of the role of Civil War memory in our national consciousness, see David Blight's prize-winning, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001). The victor would show, in other words, whose side God really supported. Contributed by Charles F. Irons. forfeited the protection that decency and the rules of war afforded When he died on the battlefield, his memory and the strength of his conviction lived on. The Roman Catholic Church was growing, however, and by 1870 counted as many followers as Methodism. Regional biases live on, so where you teach may play a part in the views your students have formed. This language of Christian nationhood dissolved the barrier between religious and secular speech in the South, and set the stage for a moral battle that declared a declined spirituality in the North, a region—according to southern voices—now run by infidels and fanatics under a godless government. Perspective is based on individual differences, and we really have to analyze the words and actions of individuals to identify perspective clearly. Copyright © National Humanities Center. It Having sacrificed so many fathers, brothers, and sons, they needed tales of Israel’s captivity and release. Some historians view the Civil War as a war created by the "boiling over" of the fighting in Kansas. that. Professor of History, Religious Studies, and American Studies to explain and justify the apparent lack of God’s blessing on their They viewed the North, with its superior resources and industrialization, as exploitive and irreligious. The Civil War was the single most destructive war in the history of this nation. economically. Vindication for this new nation under God seemed to come with the South’s victory at First Manassas on July 21, 1861. This is the first step in moving class discussion toward an evenhanded, contextualized discussion of the Civil War, and especially of how religion informed the people engaged in the conflict. The Civil War began with a largely symbolic battle at Fort Sumter, a It affirmed the spirituality of the southern church, and it gave the white South its self-proclaimed sacred identity. The victor would show, in other words, whose side God really supported. In Southern Evangelicals and the Coming of the Civil War (2000), Edward R. Crowther examines the intellectual and cultural history of the white, antebellum South and weaves together the themes of religion molding culture and culture shaping religion. “There is a mighty work of the Spirit going on now in the camps of this regiment and brigade,” reported the Central Presbyterian But as the bloody war dragged on, hundreds of thousands converted to Christ. would change their earthly situation and punish the cruelty of the God had not deserted the South, they declared, but had rather disciplined them in a refining fire that would hone them for a higher calling, yet to be revealed. With the advent of the Civil War, southerners became convinced that the North intended a destruction of their way of life and belief. Religious Revival in Civil War Armies by Gordon Leidner of Great American History. And when they suffered the afflictions of northern armies in their backyards and growing numbers of war dead, they strengthened and consoled themselves with the knowledge that they were doing God’s work on earth. The 19th century saw the Lutheran Church in America torn by doctrinal disputes and rocked by organizational rancor. who read a newspaper, attended a public gathering or served in a Those in the North, of course, believed the same of themselves. Before the Revivals. obedience and subservience to “God-ordained” masters. slavery, southern preachers declared that slavery was a sacred trust Baptist ministers, especially, sought to pass resolutions encouraging their congregations to work politically toward repealing laws banning slave literacy. The religious press made a myth of one of the Confederacy’s most famous and favored leaders—General Stonewall Jackson—and his religious faith. War is a cruel, wasteful, and terrifying engagement between opposing forces that often must kill, or be killed. The Damned Neighbors Problem: Rousseau’s Civil Religion Revisited, Rousseau and the Paradox of the Nation-State, Puritan Persecution of Non-Protestants in Colonial America, The Rise and Fall of Puritan Theocracy in Early Colonial Massachusetts, 5 of the Most Compelling Couples in History. fighting. the message that their war was a holy one, but so did virtually anyone Did they turn to religion out of a growing certainty that theirs regions of the South in the aftermath of its defeat in the Civil War, Many ministers, generals, leaders, and editors went so far as to proclaim that God had ordained the war and would determine its length, its damages, and its outcome. Originally published by the National Humanities Center to the public domain. "―Journal of the Early Republic "To his credit, Daly has produced that most laudable of things: a useful history book. Journal of Southern Religion "A genuinely new perspective on religious proslavery and its role in bringing about the Civil War. The sixteen essays in this volume, all previously unpublished, address the little considered question of the role played by religion in the American Civil War. At first, most Civil War soldiers cared little for religion. Dec 1, 1619. Since the 19th century, scholars have portrayed it as a cohesive force, a common set of values that foster social and cultural integration. Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email. It affirmed the spirituality of the southern church, and it gave the white South its self-proclaimed sacred identity. DATE YOU ACCESSED ESSAY. and the strength of his conviction lived on. Religion and culture were mutually reinforcing, with religious sentiments paralleling states’ rights ideology, collectively resulting in separation, secession and Civil … When all was said and done, religion formed the backbone of the South in the Civil War. When it comes to the Civil War and its depiction in museums, what seems to be evident up North is clouded and contested in the South, where conflicting sentiments linger. strong practical incentive to do so, because often it was only through otherwise to determine their own destinies, both politically and For the remainder of Confederate history, nearly three-quarters of all published sermons were thanksgiving, public fast or other war-related sermons, and the number of sermons actually in print represented only a fraction of the total. and upheld in Holy Scripture. When all was said and done, religion formed the backbone of the South in the Civil War. As many as two-thirds of all Virginians attended a Protestant church before the American Civil War (1861–1865). Part of that work, as had long been argued, was the “Christianizing” of the African slaves. When news spread of the surrender of Fort Sumter on April 13 and of Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops, one southern state after another seceded and the Confederacy (of 11 states in all) was born. The Confederate camp became “a school of Christ.” Gardiner H. Shattuck, Jr. protector and provider at home, they understood themselves as vital Abraham Lincoln, the voice of America's civil religion, led the Union into war against the seceded states to preserve the America he revered, not to end slavery. Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709 Jackson rallied his troops with his conviction that God would give the victory to them. religious values, and in his death he led the war dead as a “martyr” Both North and South looked to God for meaning, and each side believed—with equal fervor and certitude—that God was on its side. constructed for their own use, and faithful chaplains nightly preach to Since civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, over 50,000 people have been killed—possibly as many as 383,000, according to a … the politician. National Humanities Center For the black South, religion formed a … Although the North’s first self-proclaimed aim in the conflict was to preserve the Union, religious and humanitarian groups in the North increasingly touted the war as one of liberation for the slaves. outrage and their religious determination to hold out against the North For their part, the southern women believed that they, no less than their men, would bear a critical responsibility before God for the outcome of the conflict. with a new sense of their place in both politics and public action. direction and news of victories slimmed for the South, the dispirited These men and women witnessed intense conflict within their congregations and denominational councils before, during, and after the war. For the remainder of Confederate history, nearly three-quarters of mercy of the northern army. Little-known or remarkable facts about Christianity during the American Civil War M ajor revivals broke out in the Civil War armies. What all southerners had in common was their dependence on the slave economy. The authors show that religion, understood in its broadest context as a culture and community of faith, was found wherever the war was found. All rights reserved. suffered the afflictions of northern armies in their backyards and With husbands, sons and fathers off at war, women filled the pews, and in turn, the preachers filled the women’s hearts and minds with a new sense of their place in both politics and public action. southern soldiers turned to religion in ways that were increasingly Baptists and the American Civil War (Bruce Gourley) 5. encouraging their congregations to work politically toward repealing Confederate Memorial Day. Black preachers were often among the few literate slaves, and they created powerful stories of redemption, freedom, and retribution against their white masters out of the language and ethos of the Old Testament tales of Israel’s captivity and release. In the teeth of conflict, however, the South discovered a religious rhetoric that could interpret God’s involvement with the Confederate cause and define the role of the Christian churches in the Confederate nation. It is not a chess game, with canny hands moving inanimate pieces on a playing board and discarding the pieces only to set them back up for the next contest. Southerners, raised in a slave economy and versed in biblical language that had been amply applied to the context of that economy, truly believed that they were the good guys. By Dr. Harry S. StoutJonathan Edwards Professor of American ChristianityYale Divinity School. In fact, it equals all other wars combined. The new Confederate Constitution, adopted on February 8, 1861, and ratified on March 11, 1861, officially declared its Christian identity, “invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God.” Southern leaders chose as their national motto Deo Vindice (“God will avenge”). observers, black preachers echoed the message heard in white pulpits of Such declarations, once rare in the South, would now become a staple nationalhumanitiescenter.org, The Making of African-American Identity: vol. Confederate Constitution, handwritten manuscript George Rable Interview (December 2011) 7. religion was born—the religion of the “Lost Cause.”. growing numbers of war dead, they strengthened and consoled themselves faith. God had not deserted the South, they declared, but had rather disciplined them in a refining fire that would hone them for a higher calling, yet to be revealed. Historians have used the idea of civil religion to explain how this powerful memory gave the white South a unique sense of national meaning, purpose, and destiny. Harry S. Stout is the Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Christianity, Yale Divinity School and Professor of History, Religious Studies, and American Studies at Yale University. Did soldiers of the South experience “conversion” out of In fact, there was strong practical incentive to do so, because often it was only through obedience and subservience that slaves avoided the lash and other penalties. the army; and in many, if not all the brigades, meeting-houses have been efforts. Furthermore, some averred, God had ordained slavery as a punishment for African paganism. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Lost Cause gave white southerners a new collective identity anchored in the stories, symbols, and rituals of the defeated Confederacy. For the black South, religion formed a mighty rallying point for freedom fighters and the cause of equality. Abolitionists, Southern whites, and Southern slaves. churches in the South during the war—and therefore listened week after could be lost through ill treatment of the slaves or, conversely, won While the runaway slaves sought the protection of the northern army, buoyed by religious messages of freedom and redemption, the armies of the South fought to maintain their right to own those slaves and otherwise to determine their own destinies, both politically and economically. In a thanksgiving in the military. Southern Civil Religions in Conflict: Civil Rights and the Culture Wars: Amazon.de: Andrew M. Manis, Marjorie L. While: Fremdsprachige Bücher Spiritual hope to come with the advent of the impact of the major in... Receive notifications of new posts by email, Daly has produced that most laudable religion in the civil war, the southern perspective! 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