Theological aspects

Thanksgiving sermons

Rev. Dr. Andrew H. H. Boyd (1814-1865) delivered a Thanksgiving sermon on November 29, 1860, just months before the war broke out. In his sermon, Boyd discussed his fears of what might result from the disagreements over "the peculiar institution" of slavery. While he viewed the North as an instigator, he hoped political compromise would continue to preserve the Union. Towards the end of the war, Boyd was imprisoned at Fort McHenry in Maryland for being a Confederate sympathizer.

". . . Let us render to Him the sincere thanksgiving of our hearts; let us before His altar this hour, purpose to do our part to strengthen, by all legitimate means, the ties that should bind together every part of this Union. . ."

(Boyd, Thanksgiving Sermon, 20)

Rev. Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818-1902), a leading Presbyterian pastor and theologian, delivered his most famous defense of slavery and call for Southern secession in a Thanksgiving sermon preached to his New Orleans congregation, First Presbyterian Church, in the wake of Abraham Lincoln's election to the U.S. presidency in November 1860. A year later, the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America elected Palmer as moderator.

"the duty is plain of conserving and transmitting the system of slavery, with the freest scope for its natural development and extension. Let us, my brethren, look our duty in the face... My own conviction is, that we should at once lift ourselves, intelligently, to the highest moral ground and proclaim to all the world that we hold this trust from God, and in its occupancy we are prepared to stand or fall as God may appoint."

Benjamin M. Palmer, The South: Her Peril, and Her Duty. A Discourse, Delivered in the First Presbyterian Church, New Orleans, on Thursday, November 29, 1860 (New Orleans: Office of the True Witness and Sentinel, 1860), 7.

For more information about Rev. Palmer, click here