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Old 09-03-2017
Theodoric Theodoric is offline
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A few people had serious scruples of conscience against taking the oath. I know of two or three whose attitude, considering their personalities, was amusing and pathetic. There was one good lady, Mrs. Wellington, who walked all the way from Petersburg to Richmond, a distance of twenty miles, for fear the oath might be required if she boarded a car!

I turn to Matoaca’s journal:

“I have been visiting Cousin Mary in Powhatan. Of course they have military government there, too. Soldiers ride up, enter without invitation, walk through the house, seat themselves at the piano and play; promenade to the rear, go into the kitchen, sit down and talk with the darkeys.

“At church, I saw officers wearing side-arms. They come regularly to watch if we pray for the President of the United States. I hope they were edified; a number stood straight up during that prayer. Among the most erect were the M. girls, who have very retroussť noses. The Yankees reported: ‘Not only do they stand up when the President is prayed for, but they turn up their noses.’ They sent word back: ‘A mightier power than the Yankee Army turned up our noses.’

“I hear they have dealt severely with Rev. Mr. Wingfield because he would not read that prayer for the President. When brought up for it, he told the examining officer he could not—it was a matter of [Pg 130]conscience. They put a ball and chain on him and made him sweep the streets. And these people are the exponents of ‘freedom,’ and ‘liberty of conscience.’ They come from a land whose slogan is these words! They have no right to force us to pray according to their views. For myself, I kneel during the prayer, I try to pray it; I seek to feel it, since to pray without feeling is mockery. But I don’t feel it.

“Uncle advised: ‘My daughter, no man needs your prayers more than the President of the United States. He has great and grave responsibilities. We must desire that a higher power shall direct him. The President is surrounded by advisers bent on revenge, so bent on it that they seem to care nothing whatever for the Union—the real union of the North and South.’ So I bow my head, and I try—God knows I try! But thoughts of all the blood that has been shed, of the homes that have been burned, the suffering and starvation endured, will rush into my mind as I kneel. Dear Christ! did you know how hard a command you laid upon us when you said, ‘Pray for your enemies?’”

An entry after Mr. Lincoln’s death says: “How can I pray that prayer in the face of this?” Below is pasted Johnson’s proclamation charging the assassination to Mr. Davis and other Southern leaders. This follows: “How can I pray for the President of the United States? That proclamation is an insult flung in the face of the whole South! And we have to take it.”

They had as much trouble at Washington over our prayers as over our few buttons and clothes.

The Sunday after the evacuation—one week from the day on which the messenger came from General Lee to Mr. Davis—the Federals were represented in St. Paul’s by distinguished and respectful worshippers.[Pg 131] Nearly all women present were in black. When the moment came for the petition for “the President of the Confederate States and all others in authority,” you could have heard a pin fall. The congregation had kinsmen in armies still under the authority of the President of the Confederacy; they were full of anxiety; their hearts were torn and troubled. Were they here before God to abjure their own? Were they to utter prayer that was mockery? To require them to pray for the President of the United States was like calling upon the martyrs of old to burn incense to strange gods. Dr. Minnegerode read the prayer, omitting the words “for the President of the Confederate States,” simply saying “for all in authority.” Generals Weitzel, Shepley and Ripley had consented that it was to be thus.
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Old 09-03-2017
Theodoric Theodoric is offline
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Assistant Secretary of War Dana writes to Secretary of War Stanton: “On Friday, I asked Weitzel about what he was going to do in regard to opening the churches on Sunday. He said ministers would be warned against treasonable utterances and be told they must put up loyal prayers.”

It seems that after this conversation the determination of the Commandant and his Staff to wrest piety and patriotism out of the rebels at one fell swoop, underwent modification, partly, perhaps, as a concession to the Almighty, of whom it was fair to presume that He might not be altogether pleased with prayers offered on the point of a sword.

Scandalised at official laxity in getting just dues from Heaven for the United States, Dana continues: “It shakes my faith a good deal in Weitzel.” In subsequent letters he says it was Shepley’s or Ripley’s fault; Weitzel really thought the people ought to be made to pray right; the crime was somehow fastened finally[Pg 132] on Judge Campbell’s back, and Weitzel was informed that he must have no further oral communications with this dangerous and seditious person. Thus Mr. Stanton rounded up Weitzel: “If you have consented that services should be performed in the Episcopal Churches of Richmond without the usual prayer said in loyal churches for the President, your action is strongly condemned by this Department. I am not willing to believe that an officer of the United States commanding in Richmond would consent to such an omission of respect for the President of the United States.” Weitzel: “Do you desire that I should order this form of prayer in Episcopal, Hebrew, Roman Catholic, and other churches where they have a liturgy?” Stanton: “No mark of respect must be omitted to President Lincoln which was rendered to the rebel, Jeff Davis.” Weitzel: “Dispatch received. Order will be issued in accordance therewith.”

Is it any wonder that Grant and Sherman between them finally said to President Johnson: “Mr. President, you should make some order that we of the army are not bound to obey the orders of Mr. Stanton as Secretary of War.”

The Episcopal clergy presented the case clearly to General Weitzel and his Staff, who, as reasonable men, appreciated the situation. “The Church and State are not one in this country; we, as men, in all good faith take the oath of allegiance required of us. As priests, we are under ecclesiastical jurisdiction; we cannot add to the liturgy. A convention of the Church must be called. Meanwhile, we, of course, omit words held treasonable, reciting, ‘for all in authority,’ which surely includes the President. Forcing public feeling will be unwise; members will absent themselves, or go to a church which, not using any ritual, is not under [Pg 133]compulsion; the order is, in effect, discrimination against the Episcopal Church.”

Our people, they said, “desire by quiet and inoffensive conduct to respond to the liberal policy of those in command; they deeply appreciate the conciliatory measures adopted, and all the more regret to appear as dissenters.” They wrote to President Johnson, asking opportunity for action by heads of the diocese; they said that when the South seceded, standing forms had obtained for months till change was so wrought. That letter went the rounds of the War, State, and Executive Departments, and was returned “disapproved,” and the Episcopal Churches of Richmond were actually closed by military order until they would say that prayer.

Even President Lincoln was moved to write General Weitzel, asking what it meant that he hadn’t made people pray as they ought! “You told me not to insist upon little things,” said Weitzel.

Had we been let alone in the matter of praying for the President, we would all very soon have come to see the subject in the light in which Uncle Randolph presented it. As it was, conscientious prelates were in straitened positions, not wishing to lead their people in petitions which the latter would resent or regard at the best as empty formula. Omission of the prayer altogether was recommended by Bishop Wilmer, of Alabama, as the wisest course for the moment; General Woods suspended the Bishop and all clergy of his diocese; they were not to preach or to lead in church service; and, I believe, were not to marry the living, baptise the new-born, or bury the dead. President Johnson set such orders aside as soon as he came to his senses after the shock of Mr. Lincoln’s death.

General McPherson commanded pastors of Vicksburg (1864) to read the prescribed prayer for the[Pg 134] President at each and every service; pastors of churches without such prescribed form were instructed to invent one. The Bishop of Natchez, William Henry Elder, was banished because he would not read the prayer. Some young ladies, of Vicksburg, were banished because they rose and left the church, on Christmas morning, when a minister read it. An order signed by General McPherson, served on each, said she was “hereby banished and must leave the Federal lines within forty-eight hours under penalty of imprisonment.” No extension of time for getting “their things ready” was allowed. Permission was given for the mother of one delinquent to chaperon the bevy, which, with due ceremony, was deported under flag of truce, hundreds of Federal soldiers watching.

One Sunday in New Orleans under Butler’s rule, Major Strong was at Dr. Goodrich’s church; time came for prayer for the Confederacy; there was silence. Major Strong rose and thundered: “Stop, sir! I close this church in ten minutes!” Rev. Dr. Leacock[9] wrote Butler a tender letter begging him not to force people to perjury in taking the oath through fear, prefacing: “No man more desires restoration of the Union than I.” Helen Gray, Dr. Leacock’s granddaughter, tells me: “My grandfather was arrested in church and marched through the city in ecclesiastical robes to answer for not praying as Butler bade; Rev. Dr. Goodrich and Rev. Mr. Fulton (now Editor of the ‘Church Standard’) were also arrested. Butler sent them North to be imprisoned in Fort Lafayette. The levee was thronged with people, many weeping to see them go. They were met at New York by influential[Pg 135] citizens, among these Samuel Morse, the inventor, who offered them his purse, carriage and horses. They were paroled and entertained at the Astor House. Some people were bitter and small towards them; many were kind, among these, I think, was Bishop Potter. Hon. Reverdy Johnson took up their case. Grandfather served St. Mark’s, Niagara, Canada, in the rector’s absence; the people presented him, through Mrs. Dr. Marston, with a purse; he served at Chamblee, where the people also presented him with a purse. Mrs. Greenleaf, Henry W. Longfellow’s sister, sent him a purse of $500; she had attended his church during ante-bellum visits to New Orleans, and she loved him dearly. Rev. F. E. Chubbuck, the Yankee Chaplain appointed to succeed my grandfather, called on my grandmother, expressed regrets and sympathies, and offered to do anything he could for her. I tell the tale as it has come to me.” Government reports confirm this in essentials.





MRS. WILLIAM HOWELL (Mary Leacock) MRS. ANDREW GRAY (Lina Leacock)

Daughters of the Rev. Dr. Leacock, of Christ Church, New Orleans.



Of course, denominations not using a liturgy, had an advantage, but they were not exempt. Major B. K. Davis, Lexington, Mo., April 25, 1865, to Major-General Dodge: “On the 7th of April, from the well-known disloyalty of the churches of this place, I issued an order that pastors of all churches return thanks for our late victories. The pastor of the M. E. Church declined to do so, and I took the keys of his church.”

In Huntsville, Alabama, 1862, Rev. F. A. Ross, Presbyterian minister, was arrested and sent north by General Rousseau because, when commanded to pray for the Yankees, he prayed: “We beseech thee, O Lord, to bless our enemies and remove them from our midst as soon as seemeth good in Thy sight!”[10]

[Pg 136]“The Confederate Veteran” tells this of General Lee. At Communion in St. Paul’s soon after the occupation, the first person to walk up to the altar and kneel was a negro man. Manner and moment made the act sinister, a challenge, not an expression of piety. The congregation sat, stunned and still, not knowing what to do. General Lee rose, walked quietly up the aisle and knelt near the negro. The people followed and service proceeded as if no innovation had been attempted. The custom by which whites preceded negroes to the altar originated, not in contempt for negroes, but in ideas of what was right, orderly and proper. So far were whites from despising negroes in religious fellowship that it was not strange for both races to assemble in plantation chapels and join in worship conducted by the black preacher in the white preacher’s absence. I sometimes think those old Southerners knew the negro better than we ever can. But just after the war, they were not supposed to know anything of value on any subject.

Wherever there was a press, it was muzzled by policy if not by such direct commands as General Sherman’s in Savannah, when he ordained that there should be no more than two newspapers, and forbade “any libelous publication, mischievous matter, premature acts, exaggerated statements, or any comments whatever upon the acts of the constituted authorities,” on pain of heavy penalties to editors and proprietors. Some people say we ought, even now, for the family honour, to hush up everything unpleasant and discreditable. Not so! It is not well for men in power to think that their acts are not to be inquired into some day.
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