376 History of Wake Forest College
hand, to direct abolition arguments at their Southern brethren. By the
year 1856 their indignation had turned to fury; James charged that
"these editors have again fully entered the arena of political strife, and
deal bitter and denunciatory expressions."35
It was because Dr. Wayland was one of those who had become
politicians instead of Ministers of the Word that he and his works lost
favor among Southern Baptists. In the winter and spring of 1854
when the Nebraska Bill, which left to the people of Kansas and
Nebraska the right to decide for or against slavery, was before
Congress, Wayland felt called upon to "have the religious feeling
aroused on the subject," and abandoned the pulpit for the platform of
the politician. On March 7, 1854, he addressed a meeting of citizens
at Providence, Rhode Island, with what was known as his "Nebraska
Speech," which, however "unanswerable" its argument, was in effect
an impassioned sectional appeal, and had its influence as such. After
its publication the sale of Wayland's books among Southern Baptists
almost ceased.36
With the indignation against Wayland for his Nebraska Bill speech
still strong in their hearts, the Trustees of the College as they were
assembling at Wake Forest in June, 1856, had their patience
exhausted by the report that Wayland had again busied himself with
politics and made a speech strongly denunciatory of the South at a
"Sumner indignation meeting," that is, a meeting to express
indignation for the caning of Senator Charles Sumner of
Massachusetts in the national Senate Chamber by Senator Brooks of
South Carolina. This speech as reported by Wayland's biographers
reflects little credit on his judgment or poise. He professed to see in
Brooks's assault the beginning of a conspiracy to dethrone orderly
government and substitute one of force-of
35 Biblical Recorder, June 26, 1856. "How much more appropriate and Christian-
like would it be in such clergymen and editors to be active in offering up prayers for
God's blessing on the whole country, and especially for his guidance and direction
of those to whom the government and rule are committed. We are truly gratified
that Southern ministers of the Gospel have demeaned themselves in this matter as
becomes their profession."
36 Ibid., October 23, 1856. Memoir of Francis Wayland, by his sons, II, 133.
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