Disunion – Benjamin Morgan Palmer’s Sermon

Yesterday’s Disunion in the New York Times, written by Jamie Malanowski, prominently mentions the “Thanksgiving Sermon” of the Reverend Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, delivered in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Nov. 29, 1860.  The lengthy sermon defended secession as necessary to defend what the pastor of New Orleans’ First Presbyterian Church argued was a divinely ordained institution.  In essence, this prominent southern clergyman contended that secession would guarantee that slaveholders could continue to do God’s work of caring for an inferior race.

Malanowski’s quotes the following passage from Palmer’s message:

“The particular trust assigned to a people becomes the pledge of the divine protection; and their fidelity to it determines the fate by which it is finally overtaken,’’ he said. “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.’’ Preserving slavery, said Palmer, “touches the four cardinal points of duty to ourselves, to our slaves, to the world, and to Almighty God . . . . This trust we will discharge in the face of the worst possible peril . . . . If modern crusaders stand in serried ranks upon some plain of Esdraelon, there shall we be in defense of our trust. Not till the last man has fallen behind the last rampart, shall it drop from our hands.’’

For the complete text of Palmer’s sermon please <click here>.

About Donald R. Shaffer

Donald R. Shaffer is the author of _After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans_ (Kansas, 2004), which won the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship in 2005. More recently he published (with Elizabeth Regosin), _Voices of Emancipation: Understanding Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau Files_ (2008). Dr. Shaffer teaches online exclusively (i.e., a virtual professor). He lives in Arizona and can be contacted at donald_shaffer@yahoo.com
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