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of the Church on the subject of slavery. Previous to the Christmas Conference at which time the “Methodist Episcopal Church in America ” was organized—the Annual Conferences had enacted laws on this question. At the Conference of 1780realizing the delicacy of the subject-we find an expression of “disapprobation on all” Methodists who held slaves, and “their freedom" advised. In the Conference of 1783—emboldened by their former step—the question is asked: “What shall be done with our local preachers who hold slaves, contrary to the laws which authorize their freedom, in any of the United States ?” The answer is: “We will try them another year. In the meantime, let every assistant deal faithfully and plainly with every one, and report to the next Conference. It may then be necessary to suspend them." The ac
” tion of the Conference of 1783 produced some disturbance in the State of Virginia, and at the Conference of 1784, while a more rigid discipline was adopted for the laity, final action was suspended for another year against the preachers in Virginia; and at the same time, more stringent measures were to be enforced against our local brethren in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The traveling preachers, also, who might own slaves, were to be suspended.
The enactments of this Conference are:
“Question 12. What shall we do with our friends that will buy and sell slaves ?
“Answer. If they buy with no other design than to hold them as slaves, and have been previously
warned, they shall be expelled, and permitted to sell on no consideration.
“Question 13. What shall we do with our local preachers who will not emancipate their slaves in the States where the laws admit it?
“Answer. Try those in Virginia another year, and suspend the preachers in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
“Question 22. What shall be done with our traveling preachers that now are, or hereafter shall be, possessed of slaves, and refuse to manumit where the law permits ?
“Answer. Employ them no more.”
These several actions were previous to the organization of the Church.
At the Christmas Conference, held in the city of Baltimore-at which the “Methodist Episcopal
“ Church in America" was organized-in answer to the question, “What methods can we take to extirpate slavery?” we have the following:
“Question 42. What methods can we take to extirpate slavery?
“Answer. We are deeply conscious of the impropriety of making new terms of communion for a religious society already established, excepting on the most pressing occasion; and such we esteem the practice of holding our fellow-creatures in slavery. We view it as contrary to the golden law of God, on which hang all the law and the prophets, and the unalienable rights of mankind, as well as every principle of the revolution, to hold in the deepest debasement, in a more abject slavery than is per
haps to be found in any part of the world except America, so many souls that are all capable of the image of God.
“We therefore think it our most bounden duty to take immediately some effectual method to extirpate this abomination from among us; and for that purpose we add the following to the rules of our society, viz.:
“1. Every member of our society who has slaves in his possession, shall, within twelve months after notice given to him by the assistant, (which notice the assistants are required immediately, and without any delay, to give in their respective circuits,) legally execute and record an instrument, whereby he emancipates and sets free every slave in his possession, who is between the ages of forty and fortyfive, immediately, or at farthest when they arrive at the age of forty-five.
“And every slave who is between the ages of twenty-five and forty immediately, or at farthest at the expiration of five years from the date of the said instrument.
“And every slave who is between the ages of twenty and twenty-five immediately, or at farthest when they arrive at the age of thirty.
“And every slave under the age of twenty, as soon as they arrive at the age of twenty-five at farthest.
“And every infant born in slavery after the above-mentioned rules are complied with, immediately on its birth. “2. Every assistant shall keep a journal, in which
he shall regularly minute down the names and ages of all the slaves belonging to all the masters in his respective circuit, and also the date of every instrument executed and recorded for the manumission of the slaves, with the name of the court, book, and folio, in which the said instruments respectively shall have been recorded; which journal shall be handed down in each circuit to the succeeding assistants.
“3. In consideration that these rules form a new term of communion, every person concerned, who will not comply with them, shall have liberty quietly to withdraw himself from our society within the twelve months succeeding the notice given as aforesaid; otherwise the assistant shall exclude him in the society.
“ 4. No person so voluntarily withdrawn, or so excluded, shall ever partake of the Supper of the Lord with the Methodists, till he complies with the above requisitions.
“5. No person holding slaves shall, in future, be admitted into society or to the Lord's Supper, till he previously complies with these rules concerning slavery.
“N. B. These rules are to affect the members of our society no farther than as they are consistent with the laws of the States in which they reside.
“And respecting our brethren in Virginia that are concerned, and after due consideration of their peculiar circumstances, we allow them two years from the notice given, to consider the expedience of compliance or non-compliance with these rules. “Question 43. What shall be done with those who buy or sell slaves, or give them away?
“Answer. They are immediately to be expelled, unless they buy them on purpose to free them."*
"At the Annual Conferences for 1785, it was concluded that the rule on slavery, adopted at the Christmas Conference, would do harm. It was therefore resolved to suspend its execution for the present, and a note to that effect was added to the Annual Minutes for that year. The Conferences, however, still expressed the deepest abhorrence of the practice, and a determination to seek its destruction by all wise and prudent means.”
It is not our purpose, in this place, to discuss this question. We only desire to show that it retarded the progress of the Church at this early period. The climate of Kentucky, as well as the fertility of the soil, not only invited immigration after the cessation of Indian hostilities, but also previous to this period, when even life and safety were in constant peril from the tomahawk and the stake, the dangers of the journey were braved, and settlements formed throughout the northern and central portions of the District. We have already said that "it was not the dull, the unambitious, the idle," who came first to Kentucky. The early settlers were, in the main, fair representatives of the communities in which they had resided, with the exception, that only those who possessed bold and adventurous
* Emory's History of the Discipline, pp. 43, 44.
+ Ibid., p. 80.