Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




If the Virginia denominations could have forecast President Lincoln's request that the Commonwealth supply 2,340 troops to enforce the suppression of her sister southern states, unanimity would have prevailed from 1859 onward, and this paper would be unnecessary except for a single statement: The religious elements in Virginia endorsed secession. Although many of the clergy professed gifts of prophecy, their vision was eternal rather than secular. A religious calling meant exemplary stewardship as God's vassal, and as such their interests and concerns transcended political affairs. The men of the cloth kept abreast of current event,s but, as God's viceregents, felt a responsibility not blemish their religious calling in unsanctified, mundane matters. Only when the religious and secular lives of the parishoners became fused did the church take a definite partisan stand, and that in the path taken by the state.

The attitude of Virginia to the developing secession crisis was reflected in the attitude of its religious community. John Brown's raid gave the churches a barometer reading on the rising abolitionist sentiment of the North. The election of Lincoln, a further provocation but casus belli, convinced many of the clerics that only divine intervention could save the Union from imminent wreckage. Finally came Lincoln' call for troops, a call which solidified secession sentiment in both church and state and which placed the OH Dominion defensive stance -- a position of vast significance as a morale booster and as a religious justification for the war, enabling Virginians to call upon God for aid and assistance without entertaining any doubt about which side He might be on.

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