Among The Baptist
THE OLD TRIENNIAL CONVENTION. THE MEETING IN NEW YORK IN
1826. THE BOARD REMOVED TO BOSTON. THE COLUMBIAN COLLEGE. THE HOME
MISSIONARY SOCIETY FORMED. DR. GOING. DR. PECK. STATE CONVENTIONS.
THIRTY YEARS AGO the foreign mission cause stood very
high in the estimation of the American Baptists as a body; for this object
the choicest fields for agents were assigned. The whole denomination, North
and South, acted in concert, so far as it was aroused to any benevolent
action in supporting this then favorite undertaking. But with all these
facilities for revenue, the annual income of the Convention was but about
twenty-five thousand dollars, and a considerable portion of this sum came
from female mite societies, on which much reliance in that day was placed
for the support of all our benevolent operations.
The Meeting of the Convention in New York, in 1826
The number of delegates appointed to this meeting was
seventy-eight; six of them were absent. Their names were thus recorded:
MAINE. Thomas B. Ripley.
MASSACHUSETTS. Lucius Belles, Daniel Sharp, J. D.
Knowles, William Staughton, * Jonathan Going, Heman
Lincoln, G. F. Davis, Bela Jacobs, Abiel Fisher, Francis Wayland,
Jr., Irah Chase, James Loring, B. C. Grafton, Henry Jackson, Jonathan
Bachelder, Levi Farwell.
VERMONT. Joseph W. Sawyer, Jonathan Merriam, John
RHODE ISLAND. Stephen Gano, D. Benedict, William
CONNECTICUT. Asa Wilcox.
NEW YORK. Spencer H. Cone, J. C. Murphy, R. Thompson,
William Colgate, Archibald Maclay, Aaron Perkins, Thomas Stokes,
S. W. Lynd, Daniel Hascell, Elon Galusha, Daniel Putnam, H. Malcom,
John Stanford, Thomas Garniss, Thomas Purser, Joshua Gilbert, C. G. Summers,
William C. Hawley, Rufus Babcock, Nathaniel Kendrick, Lewis Leonard,
* Dr. Staughton and a number of other members of this
Convention are reported from States in which they did not belong, This
occurred in this way: no one could be a delegate unless it could be shown
that there had been paid into the treasury of the body by himself or friends
one hundred dollars per annum. And as the contributions of some States fell
short of the amount necessary to send the number of delegates they desired
should go, those in which there was a superabundance afforded them a helping
hand. This practice was in conformity to the constitution of the Convention.
NEW JERSEY. Thomas Brown, James E. Welch.
MARYLAND. Samuel Eastman. J. M. Peck.
PENNSYLVANIA. John L. Dagg, David Jones, William
E. Ashton, Joseph Maylin.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. O. B. Brown, G. S. Webb,
Isaac Clark, Samuel Cornelius, Luther Rice, Joseph Thaw, William Ruggles,
Enoch Reynolds, Robert Ryland.
VIRGINIA. Robert B. Semple, John Kerr, William Crane,
Eli Ball, H. C. Thompson, Noah Davis.
SOUTH CAROLINA. Joseph B. Cook, William B. Johnson,
Charles D. Mallory, James Graham.
GEORGIA. Jesse Mercer, William T. Brantley, Abdiel
Sherwood, Abner Davis.
Officers of the Convention
Robert B. Semple, President.
Howard Malcom, Secretary.
Heman Lincoln, Treasurer.
Under the old dispensation a Board of Managers of
thirty-eight was chosen once in three years. Former members might be
This Board of Managers was much like the present
Officers of the Board Managers
William Staughton, President.
"Jesse Mercer, Daniel Sharp, O. B. Brown, Nathaniel Kendriek, Vice
Lucius Bolles, Corresponding Secretary.
Francis Wayland, Jr., Recording Secretary.
Heman Lincoln, Treasurer.
The other members of the Board were, William T. Brantley,
J. L. Dagg, S. H. Cone, Joseph B. Cook, William Crane, Enoch
Reynolds, Bela Jacobs, Elon Galusha, Samuel Cornelius, Thomas B. Ripley,
John Kerr, Jonathan Going, Stephen Gano, Henry Jackson, D. Benedict,
J. D. Knowles, Thomas Stokes, Levi Farwell, Abner Davis, Irah Chase,
Stephen Chapin, Lewis Leonard, Abner Forbs, Gustavus F. Davis, John
Moriarty, Asa Wilcox, William Gammell, Charles Train, Nathaniel W.
Williams, David Jones.
It will be seen that there were a number of men in the
Board who were not members of the Convention. This was according to an
article of the constitution which provided that the Managers might be chosen
out of the societies, associations, churches, etc., which helped to sustain
the general cause.
About three fourths of the men above named have ceased
from their labors. The names of those who survive are put in italics.
Of the thirty-eight members of the Board of Managers all
but ten have died.
At this time our institution for foreign missions had
been in operation twelve years, and thus far all the services pertaining to
its management had been gratuitously performed without an executive
committee or missionary rooms.
Philadelphia at first, and for a number of years after,
was the seat of the operations of this body, when it was removed to
Washington, D. C., and finally to Boston, where it has remained to this
time, a period of about thirty years. (This was written in 1856.)
Additional Items respecting the Doings of the
Convention in New York
At this meeting the recent deaths of Drs. Baldwin of
Boston, Furman of Charleston, and John Williams of New York, were duly
reported, and suitable resolutions respecting them were passed and
entered on the minutes.
Among the doings of this Convention, fourteen standing
committees were appointed, besides a large number for special purposes, as
the business went on. Three of these committees only had respect to foreign
missions. The affairs of the American Indians, the Luminary, the Star,
the Columbian College, the debts of these concerns, and Mr. Rice's financial
transactions generally, engrossed most of the attention of the body at this
session. Respecting this laborious man, who had labored for many years in
the Baptist cause, and who was now present, the following resolution was
voted and recorded:
"From various developments, it appears that Mr. Rice is a
very loose accountant, and that he has very imperfect talents for the
disbursement of money."
Succeeding this vote, a committee of fourteen was
appointed, of whom only Drs. Wayland, Chase and the writer survive, who,
among other things, recommended that Mr. Rice should continue his agency for
the college, for the collection of funds; that Rev. Elon Galusha assume the
office of treasurer of the institution, and immediately remove to Washington
for this purpose; and that an effort be made to raise fifty thousand dollars
for the liquidation of its debts, and for sustaining its future operations.
The plan of locating the Board of Managers in Boston was
unanimously adopted by the Convention, in 1826, which carries us back
At this meeting, also, strong resolutions were adopted in
favor of having the nomination of the trustees of the college made by some
other body besides the Convention, on which this duty had thus far devolved.
This plan, however, was not fully matured until a number of years later.
On the whole, the doings at this time were of no small
importance, as they did much toward disengaging the Convention from those
entangling and embarrassing alliances with outside operations, in which the
well-meant, but ill-advised plans of Mr. Rice and his coadjutors had
involved the body, and which had for a long time been the occasion of
protracted, and not always harmonious discussions, and especially at the
session now under review.
The income of the Convention at the end of this decade
had arisen to a little over sixty thousand dollars; but its expenses had so
far gone ahead of its revenue, that the treasurer, in 1838, reported a debt
of twenty-five thousand dollars. Such unwelcome reports have often gone out
from the treasury of this institution for the last twenty years. But the
Baptist public have stood by this favorite undertaking with a promptness and
decision of a highly commendable character.
The compound motion of this old Convention, in its early
movements, in which was embraced ministerial education, and much of the
labor which is now performed by the institution soon to be named, seemed to
be a matter of necessity in the early stage of benevolent operations. The
system worked very well for a few years, but at length, from the painful
experience of the disagreeable friction of this compound machinery, and the
want of efficiency on this account, the expediency of having new
organizations for other objects, and of having all the energies of the
Convention directed to foreign missions alone, became most obviously
The Baptist Home Missionary Society
The need of such an institution had long been fell by
many of our brethren in different parts of the country, particularly in the
western States and Territories, and in remote regions where the old domestic
societies could do but little in the cause of missions. But few, however,
cared to suggest the idea of getting up a second organization for missionary
purposes among our people, so fearful were they that it would not be
supported by the churches, and so careful also, were they of encroaching ca
the rights of the foreign department, whose revenues were obtained with
great labor and cost, and, moreover, were often inadequate to the demand for
sustaining the increasing labors in the foreign fields, where new
enterprises were continually undertaken.
At the meeting of the General Convention, in 1826, to
which I have so often referred, in the report of the Committee on Domestic
Missions, of which J. M. Peck was chairman, there was evidently a looking
forward to our Home Mission and Bible Societies, and to augmented efforts in
favor of ministerial education and Sunday Schools.
My observations at present will have respect only to the
Home Mission organization, which was effected in the city of New York, in
1832. Bat the incipient movements, in which may be discovered the germ of
the institution, were commenced in Boston two years before, by certain
members of the old Baptist Missionary Society of Massachusetts. These
movements were seconded by similar bodies in New York, Philadelphia and
elsewhere, and in process of time most of the old domestic communities were
merged in the new Home Society, or had grown into State conventions, which
cooperated with it.
To the late Dr. Going may be ascribed much of the labor
in getting up this very useful Baptist institution, and in setting it in
successful operation; and in his explorations for the purpose of
ascertaining the need and the practicability of the undertaking, he found a
willing and efficient coadjutor in Dr. Peck, the laborious pioneer of the
West. This assiduous promoter of all new and promising measures among our
people, traveled extensively with Dr. Going, over an extensive field, with
which he was entirely familiar, and united with his eastern friend in laying
a good foundation for an institution which has thus far operated in a very
beneficial manner for the interests of our denomination.
The machinery of this body is very simple, and costs but
little compared with our foreign department nor has there been any of
those painful collisions between the managers at home and the missionaries
under their appointment, which, in the foreign cause for a long time past,
has been so distressing to a large portion of the American Baptists.
The most troublesome thing I have seen in the operations
of the home concern, was the project for getting up a new building for its
accommodation. This scheme, as I understand the matter, originated in the
unwillingness of Dr. Cone and others to occupy the rooms which had been
fitted up for the institution, and were offered it free of rent. A
subscription was opened in favor of this new mission house, but hitherto the
plan has not been carried into effect.
In the early operations of the Home Society, efforts were
made for the Baptist State Conventions to become auxiliary to it, and to
turn in their spare funds to its aid. But, as each convention found enough
to do at home, this plan was never fully matured.
The reports of the doings of the Home Mission Society
give but an imperfect view of this kind of labor in the whole country, since
the State conventions and single associations probably perform as much, if
not more, in this line, than the general institution. The State conventions,
especially in the older States, appropriate most of their funds in aid of
feeble churches, which are not able to give a full support to their pastors,
or else in efforts to organize new bodies in favorable locations, where the
Baptist interest has hitherto been neglected. But many associations, mostly
in the South and West, appoint one or more ministers for a part, or all the
time, to labor with destitute churches, and in destitute regions, within
their own bounds, and, in some cases, beyond them. This was the way of doing
this business in the early operations of domestic missions, as they were
then called, in the old States, where a different system is now pursued. How
many miles traveled was, and still is, an important item in the reports of
this kind of missionary service.