Many of my American ancestors have been here since before the American Revolution, and most of them, including the later arrivals, belonged to the Seventh Day Baptist (SDB) denomination. Much of my childhood I attended the second SDB church in America (established 1708) not far from the first one, which is in Newport, RI (established 1672). So in a very real sense the denomination is my family.
I am reading the first volume of a collection of historical papers, Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America. The American portion of this volume includes the years between 1664 and 1902. Of special interest to me right now is the General Conference reports, which began in 1802. I decided to look though those documents for references to slavery. Each meeting lists resolutions that passed (but not the actual resolutions). Some of them are not explicit but the wording often gives indication of their point of view. Here is what I found:
1852 Passed a resolution regarding the inhuman “Fugitive Slave Law.”
1855 Resolution regarding the Case of Pardon Davis imprisoned in Louisiana on the
charge of aiding slaves to escape.
Prayer for the emancipation of the slaves in our beloved country.
1858 Resolution adopted relating to the late disgraceful attempt of our general
government to force slavery on Kansas.
Resolution regarding The American Tract Society as having forfeited its right to our
support, because….it refused to publish anything against slavery.
1861 Eight resolutions were discussed and set forth slavery as the cause, and its
overthrow as the desired result of the Civil War; and pledged to the Union loyal
support, “whatever it may cost.”
1862 A Memorial, upon Emancipation was prepared and ordered sent to the President in
the name of the Conference.
1863 Resolution regarding the support of the government against “the slave-holders’
1864 Resolution regarding the protracted struggle for the Union, liberty and good
government in connection with which there was a special prayer of
thanksgiving and confession.
1865 Resolution regarding gratitude for the overthrow of the rebellion, and its great
Resolution on the right to suffrage without regard to color.
1866 Resolutions adopted relating to the morally wrong and unpatriotic methods of the
nation’s chief executive and the so-called “Union” party.
1870 Resolution regarding the anti-slavery struggle and its results to freedom.
1891 Resolution declaring it to be un-politic and un-Christian for our government to
make distinction among immigrants based on prejudice, race or color.