Tolbert Fanning–Advocate for Peace in 1861 (Part III)

After the Confederacy’s seizure of Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor and Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers in April 1861, Tennessee–scheduled to vote on secession in early June–will be the last state to join the Confederacy.

That same month Tolbert Fanning penned a brief but poignant plea for peace by appealing to the role of kingdom people amidst the wars between nation-states and human strife. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus said. Pursuing peace is what kingdom people do even when the cultural tide has turned against them.

Fanning calls Christians to prayer, persuasion and peaceful action as subjects of the kingdom of God. He is not, of course, successful.

On June 8, 1861, only 12% in Middle Tennessee voted against secession. Tennessee voted for secession 105,000 to 47,000 (Nashville itself voted 3,033 to 249).

Below is Fanning’s brief article in the June 1861  issue of the Gospel Advocate entitled “The Peace Maker” (pp. 177-178).

The Savior on the Mount said, “Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God,” and we gravely ask the saints if “the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” why we may not contribute to quieting the waters of strife in these once happy but now scattered and torn States? The denominations generally are in arms against each other, also some disciples and from them we have nothing to hope, if we are really representatives of the government of the Prince of Peace, may we not attempt to convince the rulers of this nation that right cannot be settled by the arbitrement* of the sword. War merely about an idea, indicates not even a high degree of civilization, and we ask is there no hope of satisfying the movers of the waters, that they are wrong and their conduct will certainly call down the just retribution of God. Let the whole church call upon the Father of mercies, to pity the follies of his creatures, and let every Christian exert his influence to convince others that it is the duty of all to beat their swords into plowshares and their speers [sic] into pruning hooks. If Christ’s government were understood, nation would not lift up the sword against nation, neither would they study war any more.”

Brethren, let us attempt by some united effort to convince our countrymen that the influence of Messiah’s government will put an end to all their strife.

*Middle English term for arbitration.

One Response to “Tolbert Fanning–Advocate for Peace in 1861 (Part III)”

  1.   Dr W Says:

    I appreciate so much the things you share–especially those things related to our history and heritage. The Lord be with you…


  1. this went thru my mind |

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