Thursday, January 8, 2015

Letter to the Editor about The Rev Saye 1864

The Weekly Vincennes "Gazette" appears to have been a Republican newspaper that attacked "profound Copperheads", like the Rev John Brown Saye.  The Vincennes "Western Sun" was  probably a Democrat newspaper, and was not about to attack any Copperhead activities.  

Date: February 6, 1864

MR. EDITOR: Having recently learned that John B. Say,(Saye) a deposed minister, had joined the Episcopal Church in Vincennes, and that the (western) Sun of that place was quite jubilant over the matter; but not having been able to procure the paper containing the article, and not learning what was said on the subject, we let the article, whatever it may have been, pass without any further notice. But believing that the cause of righteousness as well as the honor of the Episcopal Church requires that they and the public should know something of the man whom that church has received and over which they may or have been glorying , we propose giving a mere sketch of what we know to be true of the man.

Before My. Say came to Illinois, or we had seen him, we were told by a minister who knew that "he (Say) has never done any good." Now whether this is not still true is a question we shall not attempt to decide; we are however well satisfied that the evil he has done and is still attempting to do has far over-balanced any good he may have accomplished. After Mr. Say had been employed in Lawrenceville for a time, a trouble was gotten up in the church by himself or family which brought the church to the very verge of ruin, and he was informed that he would not be employed any more in that place; yet instead of leaving he commenced a wicked war on old Elder Maxwell who had been the main pillar in the support of the church as well as Say and family; and through falsehood attempted to get Missionary aid, being determined to force himself upon that people. He also pursued the same course in Pisgah church, making false records and false statements getting up strife and doing all he could even to this day to ruin the church.

After laboring with him in Presbytery, and privately and particularly for some two years to get him straightened up, but with no success, he was finally prosecuted on eight distinct charges, such as unchristian spirit, falsehood, &c., all of which were, after a long and patient hearing, fully sustained, and he was, by a very respectable Presbytery (numbers of which had not seen Mr. Say before they met him on that occasion) unanimously deposed from the office of the ministry, and suspended from all the priviliges of the church. From this decision Mr. Say appealed to the Synod of Illinois. Synod, after a patient hearing, sustained the charges, but by a very small majority, decided that the punishment was too severe, and ordered Presbytery to administer to him a solemn admonition.
From this decision a respectable protest was entered and appeal taken to the General Assembly. This appeal was not sustained, a majority of one, we believe, voting against sustaining. Presbytery then got up a called meeting for the purpose of carrying out the order of Synod; notified Mr. Say to attend, which he did not, although was notified again and again, a minister and elder waiting on him each time; to these notices Mr. Say let the bearers know they were a set of fools "if they ever had any sense they had lost it all, that none of them were fit to moderate a session," &c., and one of the ministers was so importunate as to be denounced as a dirty puppy, a "thief and a liar," not by Mr. Say, but in his house and presence and by his better half .

— Presbytery being thus treated did for his "contumacy," again solemnly depose him from the office of the ministry, and suspend him from all the privileges of the church. From this decision Mr. Say again appealed to the Synod which appeal was not sustained, but action of the Presbytery confirmed from this decision Mr. Say gave notice he would appeal to the General Assembly, but the next news we had he had gone to Vincennes, made application to the Episcopal church and was licensed.

Now, so far as the Presbyterian Church is concerned, we are all exceeding glad that our troubles with that unprincipled and crooked man (as we know him to be) are at an end, for he has done us all the injury he can. Indeed he has been a great curse to the cause of religion; and we say to the Episcopal church and all others if they receive him under such censure, it will be no credit to them, nor will it remove his censure or bring any glory to the Master. Mr. Say and a few of his ungodly and profane swearing friends have gotten up a fine cry of "persecution because he is a Mason;"[1] to all such we say it is basely false.

If any person wishes to see the charges, testimony and proceedings in the case, they can by calling on Rev. John Crozier, in Olney, Ills., who is S. C. P., and has the records; they will find them black enough.
Lawrence Co., Ills., Jan. 27, 1864.

(And you think people get upset about minsters  now.......John K has researched extensively the inside story of how the Rev John Brown Saye came to lose his Presbyterian pulpits in Lawrence Co Illinois, in the early 1860s.  Pisgah's minister, the Rev John Mack, and its Ruling Elder Thomas Buchanan finally were able to resolve the issue of the Rev John B. Saye at the 1866 General Assembly of the Old School Presbyterians in Cincinnati.  At that meeting, Elder Buchanan nominated the Rev Phineas Gurley to be Moderator of the General Assembly and escorted the Rev Gurley to the podium upon his election.  The Rev Gurley had been President Lincoln's minister in Washington D.C. and was with Lincoln when he died and had preached his funeral sermons in Washington D.C. and in Springfield, Ill.  The case of the Rev John B. Saye finally was resolved by the Presbyterian Church.  Surely, Thomas Buchanan leaned on his old friend, the Rev Phineas Gurley, from long ago Presbytery & General Assembly meetings to make the matter, of the Rev John B. Saye, finally go away.)

Of course the Western Sun responded:  

Date: February 20, 1864

A FALSE CHARGE.—Mr. Thos. Buchanan of Lawrence country, Ill., publishes a communication in the Gazette of the 6th inst.,, in reference to a certain Presbyterian clergyman, formerly of that county, having united with the Episcopal Church of this city, in which he says "the SUN was quite jubilant over the matter." That's decidedly cool, Bro. B. We confess we were very much surprised at your information. Where did you get it? We were not aware that a single word or line had appeared in our paper on the subject! You are surely on the wrong track. Please switch off—and hereafter be sure you are right before going ahead so recklessly.

[1] The Rev Saye had organized the Masonic Hall in Bridgeport, but Thomas Baldwin of the Pisgah Church had also helped in that organization.  Elder Thomas Buchanan was not bashing the Masons - he was bashing his former minister, whom the Rev Crozier of Olney described as a "profound Copperhead".