From The Pulpit: A Southern Preacher Argues Secession


Sergeant Major
Aug 20, 2018
During the secession winter of 60-61, secessionist fire eaters found a potent ally in the form of southern religion. From the pulpit, southern preachers preached the righteousness of secession and secession as a remedy to the perceived threat to slavery. Here is a link to the famous “Thanksgiving Sermon” of Benjamin M. Palmer, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans, delivered November 29, 1860:

In this sermon, Palmer argues for the righteousness of slavery as a Christian duty and implores his congregation that the only way to safeguard slavery and the southern way of life is to secede from the Union.

He states that:

It is my purpose—not as your organ, compromitting you, whose opinions are for the most part unknown to me, but on my sole responsibility—to speak upon the one question of the day; and to state the duty which, as I believe, patriotism and religion alike require of us all. I shall aim to speak with a moderation of tone and feeling almost judicial, well befitting the sanctities of the place and the solemnities of the judgment day.

Secession in defense of slavery isn’t merely a patriotic duty but a religious duty. As a Christian, regardless of if you are a slaveholder or not, it is your religious and patriotic duty to defend slavery.

He continues:

In determining our duty in this emergency it is necessary that we should first ascertain the nature of the trust providentially committed to us. A nation often has a character as well defined and intense as that of an individual. This depends, of course upon a variety of causes operating through a long period of time. It is due largely to the original traits which distinguish the stock from which it springs, and to the providential training which has formed its education. But, however derived, this individuality of character alone makes any people truly historic, competent to work out its specific mission, and to become a factor in the world's progress. The particular trust assigned to such a people becomes the pledge of the divine protection; and their fidelity to it determines the fate by which it is finally overtaken. What that trust is must be ascertained from the necessities of their position, the institutions which are the outgrowth of their principles and the conflicts through which they preserve their identity and independence. If then the South is such a people, what, at this juncture, is their providential trust? I answer, that it is to conserve and to perpetuate the institution of domestic slavery as now existing.

In order to get to the real cause of secession, let us look to the preachers. The preachers tell us it was slavery.


Brigadier General
Forum Host
Apr 11, 2016
South Carolina
Benjamin Morgan Palmer:

Born: January 25, 1818

Birthplace: Charleston South Carolina

Father: Edward Palmer 1788 – 1882

Mother: Sarah Bunce 1787 – 1847

Wife: Mary Augusta McConnell 1822 – 1888

(Buried: Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana)

Married: October 7, 1841 in Columbia South Carolina


Mary Palmer Caldwell 1847 – 1925

(Buried: Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana)

Augusta “Gussie” Palmer Colcocck 1849 – 1875

(Buried: Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana)

Kate Gordon Palmer 1852 – 1871

(Buried: Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana)

Marion Louisa Palmer 1856 – 1873

(Buried: Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana)


1833 – 1834: Attended Amherst College

1838: Graduated University of Georgia

1839 – 1841: Attended Columbia Theological Seminary

1852: Received Doctor of Divinity from Oglethorpe University

1870: Received LLD Degree from Westminster College


1841 – 1842: Minister of First Presbyterian Church of Savannah

1843 – 1855: Minister of First Presbyterian Church of Columbia S.C.

1853 – 1856: Teacher at Columbia S.C. Seminary

1856 – 1902: Minister of First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans

1860: Delivered his Thanksgiving sermon defending slavery

1861 – 1865: First Moderator of Presbyterian Church in CSA

Opposed the Louisiana Lottery helping to doom it

Author of Sermons and theological treatises

1901 – 1902: First Moderator of Louisiana State Synod

Died: May 25, 1902

Place of Death: New Orleans Louisiana

Cause of Death: Struck by streetcar in New Orleans

Age at time of Death: 84 years old

Burial Place: Metairie Cemetery New Orleans Louisiana


Palmer 1.jpg


Sergeant Major
Aug 20, 2018
In spring, 1861 the Presbyterian Assembly had their annual meeting in Philadelphia. There were few southerners in attendance and when the northern clergymen called for an oath of allegiance the southerners left. Later that year they held their own assembly in Georgia and adopted a statement from South Carolinian pastor James Henley Thornwell which begins:

“THE ANTAGONISM of Northern and Southern sentiment on the subject of slavery lies at the root of all the difficulties which have resulted in the dismemberment of the federal Union, and involved us in the horrors of an unnatural war.”

It seems that the men of god of the south were quite aware of the cause of the war. It’s a good thing we have revisionists to tell us that these contemporary southern men of the cloth are incorrect and didn’t know what they were talking about. :whistling:

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