We May Undertake to Run the Churches: The Stanton-Ames Order and Union Military-Supported Church Confiscation During the American Civil War
Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in History
During the American Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church was authorized and supported by the federal government to take control of Methodist Episcopal Church, South, churches and parsonages in which a loyal minister appointed by a loyal bishop did not officiate. Authorized under the popularly styled “Stanton-Ames order,” northern Methodist agents traveled southward alongside the Union army, and the two parties worked in conjunction to eject southern Methodist ministers from their pulpits and replace them with ministers who were loyal to the Union. These confiscations happened across the South, but they were executed by northern Methodist officials who engaged in the work with differing degrees of enthusiasm. Although their subsequent occupation of these properties was short-lived, the dramatic northern action exposed the powerlessness of southern divines to protect the sanctity of their own sacred spaces. After the war, when northern Methodists believed a reunited Methodism was imminent, southerners pointed to northern actions under the Stanton-Ames order as a reason to maintain their separate and distinct organization. As the northern connection pushed for reunion, southern intransigence, fueled by their contempt for northern Methodist conduct during the war, forced the northern Methodists to become penitents, confessing wrongs and compromising on principles, and allowing the southern Methodists to deflect any criticism for supporting slavery and treason.
Stanton-Ames order, Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Episcopal Church South, church confiscation, separation of church and state, civil liberties, American Civil War, Edwin Stanton, Edward Ames, Methodists
History of Religion | Political History | United States History
© Todd Ernest Sisson
Sisson, Todd Ernest, "We May Undertake to Run the Churches: The Stanton-Ames Order and Union Military-Supported Church Confiscation During the American Civil War" (2021). MSU Graduate Theses. 3619.