College of Humanities & Social Sciences
Methodist Church--Clergy; Slavery--United States
American Studies | History of Religion | United States History
The Methodist church split in 1844 was a cumulative result of decades of regional instability within the governing structure of the church. Although John Wesley had a strict anti-slavery belief as the leader of the movement in Great Britain, the Methodist church in America faced a distinctively different dilemma. Slavery proved to be a lasting institution that posed problems for Methodism in the United States and in the larger political context. The issue of slavery plagued Methodism from almost its inception, but the church functioned well although conflicts remained below the surface. William Capers, James Osgood Andrew, and Freeborn Garrettson were influential with the Methodist church, and they represent diverse views on black enslavement. These three men demonstrate that the Methodist church thrived despite controversies about governance, church polity and social issues between 1784 and 1844. Although it was prosperous, the church would split in 1844 over the slaveholding of Bishop James Osgood Andrew. The split was a larger referendum on sectional tensions that had become unbearable in the church in 1844 and would continue to deteriorate in the nation as a whole until the Civil War in 1861.
Lawrence, Brian D., "The relationship between the Methodist church, slavery and politics, 1784-1844" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 2570.