In my biographical sketch of Isaac Post earlier this year, I highlighted the schism that Post created within the the Bridgewater Baptist Church in Montrose, Pennyslvania. I believe his support for the immediate and full emancipation of American slaves to be the definitive moment of his life, and up until recently, I had only secondary sources regarding his resolution. That changed these past months, when Betty Smith and I located the Baptist Church records at the Susquehanna County Historical Society.
For me, it was a remarkable moment to open the worn and aged pages of this large ledger book and thumb through years and years of records. I knew I was looking for April 15, 1837, because I had seen that date in the research. As I turned each delicate page of the book, I came closer and closer to discovering the details from that specific day when Post made known to the church the contents of his heart; and I felt a flutter, too, as I finally landed upon the specific pages.
I include photographs of those pages here and my translation of the resolution. Where you see asterisks in my translation are places where I made best guesses as to the written words, but feel free to study the original pages, too. Maybe someone can make out words better than I have done. I’ve also used contemporary spelling and puncutation where possible to modernize the reading.
Whereas it appears evident that the word of god as set forth in the bible condemns oppression, the taking of man’s labor for want and the merchandise of human flesh as is now practiced in the United States and other parts of the world and as it is a sin and a great evil in the land, it ought to be abolished and that it is the duty and privilege of every Christian and Church as a Church to publicly and privately bear testimony against it. Therefore, Resolved, that this church regard the practice of holding men in slavery to be a violation of the natural rights of men and contrary to the principles of the Gospel, and that it is the duty and privilege of every Christian to use all possible* means and unite in their prayers to God that the oppressed may go free and slavery be abolished from the United States and the world, and that the resolution* and Delegates be instructed to bring the subject before the rest of the congregation.*
Indeed a month later, in May, the resolution passed by a majority vote. Reverend Elder Dimock, who had baptized Isaac Post and his family into the Bridgewater Church did not not vote with the majority, and in December, he presented his own resolution to the church, which resulted in a schism that lasted several years, with Elder Dimock breaking off from the majority. His faction later rejoined the church in 1842, having realized that they couldn’t survive without the larger church.