Christian Recorder: June 16, 1866
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER--I arrived here, the place designated by Bishop Payne as the Headquarters of the Northern Division of Georgia, which is under the superintendence of the writer. My reception was not only of the most cordial kind, but surprisingly so.
Last evening I repaired to this church—they were holding a very interesting prayer meeting. At its close it was announced that on the following evening there would be a meeting to take into consideration the moral status of the people.
This evening I again went to church, and found it comfortable filled with respectable citizens.
Upon motion, Mr. John Quarles took the chair and stated the object of the meeting to be the organization of a plan to promote virtue hitherto the guides of society had not been well define. We have responsible people among us, yet we continually encourage vice by improper associations. They had long talked of dividing their society, but had failed to do so; they wanted to form a society of those who would promise to frown down the disrespectable, and to let the vicious and licentious feel the result of their course. Their white friends favored this course, and advised the inauguration of such a policy.
Mr. William Clark moved that a committee of five be appointed to draft rules to govern society. Adopted.
Mr. Lewis Smith said he highly approved of the measure…., and its purposes; thought the time had arrived when a line of demarcations should be drawn between the chaff and the wheat. He considered this the… wedge which would split from virtue; the rising generation must be reared upon this foundation. He did not want to exclude any, but if some were determined in lie in the mud, we must leave them to their fate. This was a new one. True, the whites never had such a society because they never needed one—water sought its own level without such an expedient. Their natural rights had never been abused like ours, therefore they never were subjected to a contingency, like ours. He hoped the people would be as a unit on the questions before them.
Mr. William Peppers advocated moral improvement.
Rev. Laney (white) of the Presbyterian church, came forward and prayed for a general reformation in the morals of our people. He said virtue was every thing in a community: it made good citizens. It was more precious than money; it mattered not if the person did not have a second garment for the bank. If they were virtuous every body would respect them; yet honestly and character, once destroyed, can never be bought for money. Some said they did not care. But “don’t care” was “played out” now; we had to care; and if they did not care, let them go out of decent society; we want people who do care.
Mr. William Clarke wanted all in favor of the movement to hold up their right hand, which was unanimously responded to by the vast assemblage present. Some even went so far as to hold up both hands.
Mr. Lewis Sherman said that some would go off and say we wanted to raise an Aristocratic Society. This would be a great misrepresentation. What we want to do is to get rid of rum-suckers, bar-room loafers, whiskey-dealers, and card players among the men, and those women who dressed finely in ill-gotten gain. He was for a radical change of the base of society, and metamorphosing the now nondescript counter-tenor of our social music.
I would remark, Mr. Editor, that this was one of the most interesting meetings I ever attended. The addresses are only synoptically sketched. Perfect unanimity prevailed throughout their deliberations, and a general acquiescence seemed to characterize the movement.
On yesterday, I was favored with an interview with Rev. J. W. Burke and Joseph A. Keys, of the M. E. Church South, both of whom are leading ministers of their Church, and were members of the General Conference at New Orleans. They both extended to me a brotherly welcome, and cordially endorsed our Church. They also assured me that we would never have any trouble about church property, stating that it was the universal desire of their preachers and bishops to have all their colored members unite with the A.M.E. Church. They both offered their assistance in siding the general transfer, and advised me to take a new field, to visit the white ministers, who would willingly assist us in organizing the colored Church. There are several places they want me to visit immediately, and also thought my division to large for one man to superintend properly. They were pleased to see that we were endeavoring to elevate the colored preachers of the South, instead of flooding the country with Northern ministers, many of whom might be “too radical” for the times, etc. etc. But I must say that the Christian dignity and fraternal respect, as well as the evidence of Christian kindness and general desire expressed for the elevation of the colored people, utterly astounded me. This is the fourth time, within a week, that I have had interviews with Southern divines—twice with presiding elders—with the same result. I shall, therefore, feel myself among friends when among them, unless some new evil interposes,
WHICH MAY GOD FORBID.