A Murderous preacher: lessons from the crimes of an extreme Baptist.Peter, the murderous preacher of this tale, was not just a Baptist; he was a faith doctor, an "ultra" Calvinist, and a slave living in the frontier region of southwest Missouri. How he came to murder three of his own children and his owner's wife is a complicated tale told by the Rev. Perry B. Marple in a sermon delivered on May 26, 1848, to the crowd outside the Dade County Dade County can refer to the following places:
The actual killings were very bloody. The printing of Marple's sermon may have been calculated to profit from readers drawn to the case by curiosity, who wanted to see how Rev. Marple's description matched what they had heard about Peter's attack on his small children. The details provided were graphic and poignant; first, Peter "took up Mark, a boy about three years of age, and, after kissing him, buried a razor in his neck," the result of which was, "after some struggles, he died." Terrified ter·ri·fy
tr.v. ter·ri·fied, ter·ri·fy·ing, ter·ri·fies
1. To fill with terror; make deeply afraid. See Synonyms at frighten.
2. To menace or threaten; intimidate. by what they had just watched, the two older boys, Eli (age 8) and John (age 6), begged to live, but submitted to blindfolding blindfolding
covering a horse's eyes with a blindfold as a means of restraint. Most horses when blindfolded can be persuaded to load onto trailers which they refuse to do without the blindfold. Of some but more limited use in other species. when told that both parents would die with them. When shots to the boys' heads only injured them, Peter quickly used a razor to cut their throats. (2)
The murderer then turned on himself. Failing to do much damage with either a muzzleloader muz·zle·load·er
A firearm that is loaded at the muzzle.
muzzle·load or pistol, Peter then snatched up the already bloody razor, making messy but ineffective cuts around his neck and throat. Grabbing a dull knife Dull Knife (b. Wahiev, also Tamela Pashme) (?1810–?83) Northern Cheyenne war chief; born near the Rosebud River in present-day Montana. At first friendly to the whites, he turned to war following the Sand Creek (Colo.) massacre (1864). , Peter was trying to finish the jobs when he was interrupted by the arrival of his master, James Douglass Sir James Nicholas Douglass, FRS, (October 16, 1826 – June 19, 1898), was an English civil engineer famous for the design and construction of the fourth Eddystone Lighthouse. , who had heard the gunshots. Peter had enough strength to quickly down the elderly man, bashing Douglass's head with the barrel of a shotgun. With Mr. Douglass down, Mrs. Douglass arrived at the scene, only to be beaten to the floor also. She might have survived the bludgeoning had not Peter returned from giving chase to his wounded master and found her stirring, something he stopped with a second, final beating.
The task of the minister in his carefully prepared, two-hour sermon was to explain this bloody horror. Yet, including a sermon in the 1848 execution ritual of the slave Peter, followed by the request of twenty-six leading citizens that this address be published, called attention to a kind of slave behavior whites generally kept secret. Slave violence was usually hushed because whites feared the news might inspire other slaves to similar actions and because such rebellion contradicted the widely held belief that slaves were content. (3) These citizens of Dade County, Missouri Dade County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. As of 2000, the population is 7,923. Its county seat is Greenfield6. The county was organized in 1841 and is named after Major Francis L. Dade of Virginia, who was killed in the Seminole War in 1835. , acknowledged the unusual nature of their request, but they argued with some pride that the sermon was worthy of publication as a novelty, "the only oration of the kind ever delivered in South West Missouri." (4)
Ignoring the possibility that publicity about Peter might inspire further violence, these pioneer settlers-citizens instead believed the address would benefit potential readers, many of whom had attended the execution but due to the large crowd did not actually hear the sermon. (5) Clearly, those endorsing the sermon saw the time spent in broadcasting it as a way of restoring, not undermining, order in their community. (6) Analyzing the contents of the sermon and the circumstances surrounding its presentation provides clues about what problems, which kinds of disorderly conduct disorderly conduct
Conduct likely to lead to a disturbance of the public peace or that offends public decency. It has been held to include the use of obscene language in public, fighting in a public place, blocking public ways, and making threats. , leaders saw as most threatening to Dade County in 1848. What they feared most was the disorder and division caused by "ultra" Calvinism, not by slaves or slave rebellion A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slave owners. . Consequently, leaders endorsed Marple's explanation of Peter's crime as their own, seeing the sermon as a way to dramatize dram·a·tize
v. dram·a·tized, dram·a·tiz·ing, dram·a·tiz·es
1. To adapt (a literary work) for dramatic presentation, as in a theater or on television or radio.
2. the dangers they associated with the anti-missionary controversy. Despite the reality that Peter's actions constituted a violent act of slave rebellion, Marple, as spokesperson for the county's political leaders, explained Peter's case, not primarily as a case of slave inferiority or the careless behavior of white owners, but instead as a lesson about the dangers of wrong beliefs, the "ultra" beliefs which were creating much more serious schisms in southwest Missouri than differences over slavery or political parties.
Comparing Peter's case with similar cases from elsewhere in Missouri and other slave states suggests why Dade County whites were unconcerned about publicizing slave violence. Their reasons included the smallness of the slave population in southwest Missouri, the unusual character and work record of the slave Peter, and a concentrated effort on the part of leading whites to turn Peter's crime into a lesson on white sin and crime. As the sermon's negative references to Calvinism imply, conflict between "ultra" Calvinists, as Rev. Marple labeled Peter, and other kinds of Christians was a much greater threat to community than any debate about slavery. The differing religious affiliations of the criminal, a Calvinist Baptist, and those moderate Baptists and Cumberland Presbyterians presiding over his execution suggest that that the larger, more serious conflicts dividing the community were not slavery, but related in some way to religious affiliations.
Leading citizens, including the judge and sheriff presiding over Peter's trial, those most responsible for order, presided not just over the trial and execution, but over the selection of Rev. Marple to preach the execution sermon. Together, these community leaders worked to transform Peter's crime and public execution into a drama depicting the dangers of extreme Calvinism, the doctrinal belief which fired up adherents to anti-missionary beliefs. If community leaders could discredit the central belief of extreme Calvinists, they would be controlling, stopping up the growing influence of this frontier religion, notable and trouble some for its hostility to missionary activity and the regional associations of churches that supported missionaries, new churches, and church growth in southwest Missouri.
Slavery in Southwest Missouri
One reason whites in Dade County were open in discussing slave violence was the demographic fact that both slaves and slave violence were rare in the county and region. None of the published works on slavery in Missouri mention either Dade or its surrounding counties, although some studies mention counties with as few as 1,400 slaves. (7) White settlement dated back only into the 1830s. Dade County the area was not formed into a county until 1841, about the time when James Douglass and his slave Peter moved there from Tennessee. In 1848, Dade County was still a frontier community, with undeveloped acreage greater than its farm land. Little of the land was devoted to tobacco or hemp--the two Missouri crops most apt to employ slave labor. In the Dade County population of 4,246, less than 6.5 percent or 275 individuals, were black. (8)
While farmers in two neighboring counties grew tobacco, hemp hemp, common name for a tall annual herb (Cannabis sativa) of the family Cannabinaceae, native to Asia but now widespread because of its formerly large-scale cultivation for the bast fiber (also called hemp) and for the drugs it yields. , and even a little cotton as cash crops for the market, Dade County farmers were much more heavily invested in raising livestock and produce. Corn, oats oats, cereal plants of the genus Avena of the family Gramineae (grass family). Most species are annuals of moist temperate regions. The early history of oats is obscure, but domestication is considered to be recent compared to that of the other , and wheat were all-important grain crops, with potato and tobacco production also important and supplemented by the household production of butter, cheese, honey, and wool. (9) More children assisted their parents with farm and household chores than attended one of six small grammar schools in the county, and residents had to venture outside the county to find grist or saw mills. (10) The rugged terrain, smallness of farms, and traveling distance from major markets made slave labor of limited use, and those who did own slaves employed them in farming and household tasks. So while slaves were not the usual source of labor Source of Labor was a rap band loosely associated with the female rap act Beyond Reality, both of which performed at the all day Rap Festival (featuring 30 or more of the top regional rap/hip-hop acts of that time). throughout the county, those who did work in the county presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. handled a variety of tasks. In this regard, James Douglass, Peter's master, followed local custom when he allowed his slave, unsupervised, to hire himself out to a series of area residents.
Hiring out was common in Missouri, since it allowed masters greater flexibility and profits from their investment in slaves. But because Missouri leaders believed, along with lawmakers from other slave states, that controlling the behavior of blacks was in the community interest, state slave codes Slave codes were laws passed in colonial North America to regulate any state of subjection to a force, and were abolished after the U.S. Civil War. Slave codes authorized, indemnified or even required the use of violence and were long criticized by abolitionists for their brutality. required both local authorities and slave owners This list includes notable individuals for which there is a consensus of evidence of slave ownership. A
Bounded by a line; limited or confined. by laws forbidding blacks from disturbing any religious assembly. (11) Each of these laws regulated both slave and master's behavior, although the usual penalty for masters in violation was a small fine; that for disorderly slaves was a whipping of ten to thirty lashes.
Despite the strictness of these Missouri slave codes, evidence for enforcement is spotty. Owners did not always provide the legal permissions necessary to ensure that their slaves were not picked up by slave patrols or other citizens eager to report violations and collect the legally prescribed informer's fee. Hiring of slaves by nonslaveholders remained common, although quantifying this labor practice is difficult because census takers did not distinguish between owners and renters. Renting was common because it often brought the owner more income than what the slave could earn on the home place. Also, white labor was virtually non-existent, and many who could not afford to buy could hire some- one else's slave. (12)
Peter's Work History and Character
In hiring out Peter to labor for his neighbors, the elderly James Douglass was not breaking with custom. Rather he was acting sensibly, adding to his income, and easing his own responsibility of supervision by following this common labor pattern. While the minister presiding at Peter's execution never challenged the practice of hiring out slaves, he did suggest that masters who hired out slaves were frequently lax in their supervision of those servants.
Peter's work pattern seems similar to that of the young Frederick [Bailey] Douglass in Baltimore. There the master, because Frederick paid him a fixed weekly wage, allowed his slave to make his own work arrangements. (13) While we do not know James Douglass's specific arrangements for hiring out Peter, Rev. Marple notes that Peter worked for a variety of individuals and was so well known and respected among whites that his frequent visits to households and farms never aroused suspicion, much less resulted in punishment. Frequently, he paid his master for an entire year's labor, with his master in return allowing Peter freedom to make his own work arrangements. Indeed, Peter had gone to a white neighbor to talk over conflicts with his owner, James Douglass, without arousing any fears concerning Peter's potential for violence. Nor did James Douglass himself seem to fear Peter gaining knowledge of a plan to sell either Peter or some of his family.
Peter may have gained many privileges both because he was skilled and respected and because the few slaves in the area lulled authorities into erratic enforcement of the state's slave code slave code
In U.S. history, law governing the status of slaves, enacted by those colonies or states that permitted slavery. Slaves were considered property rather than persons. . Even prior to his arrival in southwest Missouri, Peter had masters who allowed him choices about his living and work situation. Peter had been born in Kentucky in 1808. When just six years old, Peter moved with his master to Tennessee. There the master died, leaving Peter to his son, Phelix Owen. Young Owen allowed Peter to purchase his own time, which was used to trade "with those of his color, and with those of no color." When economic necessity required the sale of some slaves, this master allowed Peter to chose whether he would be sold along with his wife and two children or remain with Owen in Tennessee. Marple was critical of Peter's unnatural choice, family separation, but noted Peter was allowed at least one trip, "a distance of some 260 miles," to see his wife and children. James Douglass also allowed Peter enough freedom for the slave to develop a varied and profitable trading network. (14)
A second reason Peter was allowed more freedom than was usual in many slaveholding slave·hold·er
One who owns or holds slaves.
slaveholding adj. districts was that he had developed skills widely valued by whites. Peter pleased his trading customers, whom the Rev. Marple reported found Peter "honest in his transactions, and punctual punc·tu·al
1. Acting or arriving exactly at the time appointed; prompt.
2. Paid or accomplished at or by the appointed time.
3. Precise; exact.
4. in his promises." He also pleased patients, many of whom sought out Peter's cures because his reputation as a "faith doctor" was "extraordinary," among "those of his own color," "the lower order of the whites" and "persons of intelligence and distinction." His medical practice enlarged Peter's trading network, with Rev. Marple noting that when Peter brought medicines to homes, he traded other goods with his clients. (15)
Peter's status as a Baptist preacher elicited confidence in him and contributed to the liberty he was granted to trade and heal. Living in a frontier community in which churches and church attendance were not the norm, Peter's strong religious values and character elicited respect, especially among the leading members of the community. Here Rev. Marple's comments, based on numerous conversations with Peter as he waited for his execution, are detailed and complimentary. Marple describes Peter's conversion at age eighteen as involving "deep penitence Penitence
Act of Contrition
prayer of atonement said after making one’s confession. [Christianity: Misc.]
former Lady Laurentini; a penitent nun. [Br. Lit. " and providing the convert with a firm "hope in Christ." Soon after conversion, Peter joined a local church, gaining acceptance as a "colored preacher."
Given the serious crimes to be explained, Marple seems reluctant to endorse Peter's character without reservation, but admitted that whites accepted him as a good person: "making high pretensions to sanctity, he was soon noticed by persons of no color, whose good opinion he seldom failed to procure." Peter's ability to control his work and movements in the community seems the result not just of a master's benevolence BENEVOLENCE, duty. The doing a kind action to another, from mere good will, without any legal obligation. It is a moral duty only, and it cannot be enforced by law. A good wan is benevolent to the poor, but no law can compel him to be so.
BENEVOLENCE, English law. or skills as a healer healer Mainstream medicine A romantic synonym for physician. See Traditional healing. and businessman, but also because of the slave's pleasant manner and unblemished reputation. As Marple told his audience, pointing at the condemned prisoner, here is a person whom most would, based on appearance, "pronounce ... a good-sensed, unsophisticated, honest-hearted man." Even facing death, Peter appeared "candid, open and intelligent," with "full and expressive" eyes indicative of a "mild and humorous" temperament. Marple also hints that some of this positive evaluation was because Peter was a mulatto MULATTO. A person born of one white and one black parent. 7 Mass. R. 88; 2 Bailey, 558. ; for the minister described the slave as having a "head, unlike the general mass of his color ... of Grecian form." (16)
Consequently, Peter's relative freedom of movement seems a product of these factors: his respectful and mild demeanor toward whites, his religious character, his skills in business and medicine, and his luck in being owned by masters who saw the profits of his self-supervised work as falling largely into their own pockets. These circumstances worked to relax any concerns in the white community about Peter's frequent visits to households throughout the area.
"Undue Indulgence by Masters"
Difficult to explain, both for the historian and Peter's contemporaries, is why this exemplary slave turned violent. Marple considers several possibilities, each of which help explain the interest of the white community in publishing the minister's version of events. First, Marple argues that Peter's masters "corrupted" him with "undue indulgence." This apparent kindness encouraged his independent movements and fostered the wrong-headed thinking that led to Peter's violence. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Marple, the master's most egregious e·gre·gious
Conspicuously bad or offensive. See Synonyms at flagrant.
[From Latin act of indulgence was giving Peter a choice about his sale into the deep South, and then allowing Peter to travel the length of Alabama to his family for a visit of open-ended duration. Even more problematic was Peter's inappropriate participation in the decision to sell only part of his family. According to Marple, this kindness of the master led Peter into concluding "that he would never be sold [except] ... by his own consent." When Peter was sold to another Tennessee master, James Douglass, Peter consented because he was promised that the will of this new but elderly owner provided for his manumission MANUMISSION, contracts. The agreement by which the owner or master of a slave sets him free and at liberty; the written instrument which contains this agreement is also called a manumission.
2. . Peter also tried to earn more than the required annual payments to his master, saving profits so that he could gain freedom sooner, a dream that Marple agreed was encouraged in Peter by both masters. While we might not see this kindness as the cause of Peter's discontent, Marple is correct on one point: the freedom of movement allowed Peter by his masters and the surrounding white community did increase his discontent with his position as a slave.
How unhappy Peter had grown is impossible to judge, although Marple contended that hearing about plans to sell Peter was what pushed the slave into a suicidal depression. Given that slaves frequently played multiple and quite different roles with whites than within their own families, (17) one might suspect that Peter's humor, honesty, and pleasant demeanor hid from his white audience both worries about his growing family and how they might all gain legal freedom. The lesson for Marple's audience was clear: "There is nothing [more] calculated ... to corrupt the mind of a slave than undue indulgence." To overindulge o·ver·in·dulge
v. o·ver·in·dulged, o·ver·in·dulg·ing, o·ver·in·dulg·es
1. To indulge (a desire, craving, or habit) to excess: overindulging a fondness for chocolate. a slave, Marple explained, was comparable to spoiling a child. Neither child nor slave had sufficient maturity or education "to appreciate the indulgence and improve." That Peter was immature and spoiled, Marple argued, should have been clear as soon as he refused to be sold south with his family and instead sought the additional privilege of traveling to Alabama to visit his wife and children. (18)
Not only did his masters unwisely indulge Peter's desire for liberty; their laxness meant that he was rarely disciplined. Consequently, he never developed a disciplined plan for saving money. Peter's trading skills were real, but Marple argues the slave failed to save as much as he could have toward his own purchase price. He did not imply that Peter could have earned his own purchase price, but that with better training and discipline he would have saved more. Marple linked this limited discipline back to another more basic cause of Peter's rebellion, a lack of moral education.
This problem was clearly something Marple's hearers might recognize as theirs also, for without such training, neither they nor Peter had power "to resist such powerful tendencies to corruption. Masters would do well to look to this--and while they would extend the privileges of their servants, let them redouble re·dou·ble
v. re·dou·bled, re·dou·bling, re·dou·bles
1. To double.
2. To repeat.
3. Games To double the doubling bid of (an opponent) in bridge.
v. their efforts in the development of their moral and mental natures." (19) Business failures, fairly common in frontier Missouri, could result from a similar moral failure in parents to provide their children with moral education.
More Moral Lessons
Marple aimed the longer parts of his sermon more directly at the general, nonslaveholding public, To convince them that Peter's story contained moral lessons for all, Marple emphasized that Peter was not just an unusual slave, corrupted by indulgent masters, but a human, sharing common traits with whites and blacks. Rejecting any notion that Peter's basic nature was different from that of other criminals, sinners, or humans in general, Marple asserted that understanding Peter's crime would help members of his audience avoid falling into similar sins.
Marple judged insanity to be a human failing. He complicated (or confused) Peter's case by exploring at length the possibility that Peter the murderer was insane, as his defense attorney had argued, and therefore not responsible for his actions. A plausible explanation for Peter's transformation to murderer, insanity was something Marple could also link to his general audience, since they too might be susceptible to the weaknesses that led Peter to murder.
Here Marple's argument explicitly countered the growing trend among some Southerners and medical men writing about race, many of whom had accepted the plural origins theory and its assumptions that only whites had descended from Adam and Eve Adam and Eve
In the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, the parents of the human race. Genesis gives two versions of their creation. In the first, God creates “male and female in his own image” on the sixth day. , while Africans had descended from orangutans. (20) Marple made clear that all humans could learn from Peter's case, even though Peter was "a negro, a slave, unlettered and unrefined ... [and] a culprit, condemned for the darkest deeds known." Marple argued that Peter was "nevertheless a human; and as such, a fit subject for reflection." (21) Having established that Peter shared basic human qualities with whites, Marple analyzed where Peter himself went wrong, so as to warn anyone among his audience who might also fall into delusions as terrible as Peter's.
Many pages of the published sermon discuss definitions of insanity and legal precedents in which the insanity defense A defense asserted by an accused in a criminal prosecution to avoid liability for the commission of a crime because, at the time of the crime, the person did not appreciate the nature or quality or wrongfulness of the acts.
The insanity defense is used by criminal defendants. was used. For Marple and his backers, discrediting the insanity plea Noun 1. insanity plea - (criminal law) a plea in which the defendant claims innocence due to mental incompetence at the time
plea of insanity
criminal law - the body of law dealing with crimes and their punishment was necessary if the community was to accept the verdict. Perhaps community leaders sensed sympathy for Peter, rooted in the view of some, who saw the murders as wholly inexplicable, and therefore insane behavior. And so Marple discussed and discarded, one by one, a dozen examples of the insanity defense, and in doing so undercut the belief of anyone still wondering if Peter might really be "not guilty by reason of insanity not guilty by reason of insanity n. plea in court of a person charged with a crime who admits the criminal act, but whose attorney claims he/she was so mentally disturbed at the time of the crime that he/she lacked the capacity to have intended to commit a crime. ."
Regardless of appearances, Marple argued, a father who murders his children is both sane and morally responsible, though clearly morally insane--an important distinction to Marple in the legal precedents he cites. Summarizing numerous cases from British legal history, but including few direct references to Peter's case, this section of Marple's sermon is the least persuasive, particularly since the section ends abruptly with Marple's description of Peter's wild, distracted appearance at the time of his arrest. (22)
While Marple agreed with the court's judgment, that Peter was sane and responsible for his crimes, the minister still voiced his opinion that Peter's symptoms of insanity were "spontaneous," not faked. So how could Peter be responsible for murder? Marple suggested that Peter was disturbed (avoiding the term "insane") because of the "circumstances of the murders, the arrest, and imprisonment Imprisonment
See also Isolation.
former federal maximum security penitentiary, near San Francisco; “escapeproof.” [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 218]
German prison ship in World War II. [Br. Hist. " and thus was temporarily insane as "the consequences and not the cause of his perpetrations." (23)
Having made clear his affirmation of the court's verdict, Marple elaborated on the lessons for everyone in this case, discussing which factors made a sane, apparently good and Christian man turn into a serial murderer. First, Marple noted that judging good, moral character can be tricky. He argued that those with outwardly good character were just as likely as obvious sinners to fall into crime: Peter did not murder as part of a natural or gradual progression from "busy-body," "evil-doer," or thief to murderer. (24) Rejecting what he labels a deist de·ism
The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation. idea, that temperament determines who will murder, Marple drew back from the ultra-Calvinist assumption that some persons could by nature or predestination predestination, in theology, doctrine that asserts that God predestines from eternity the salvation of certain souls. So-called double predestination, as in Calvinism, is the added assertion that God also foreordains certain souls to damnation. be murderers. Instead, He emphasized environmental factors, suggesting that "any man who, under a powerful combination of circumstances ... may become a murderer." Even good discipline and moral and intellectual training, the kind of moral education Peter never received, could not insure that a good person would never, at one weak moment, yield "unreservedly un·re·served
1. Not held back for a particular person: an unreserved seat.
2. Given without reservation; unqualified: unreserved praise.
3. and continuously to temptation." (25)
Having established this general principle that murderers make choices and are therefore responsible for their crimes, Marple then described how Peter was ruined morally by a combination of temptations and wrong choices. The freedom Peter's masters allowed was a temptation, one for which Marple judged several whites responsible since they had all fostered rebelliousness by speaking to Peter with inappropriate familiarity: "for persons of no color to place a slave upon the same footing as themselves ... they bring the entire white class into disrepute dis·re·pute
Damage to or loss of reputation.
a loss or lack of good reputation
Noun 1. ." Such familiarity fostered "subordination" and quickly "the gates to corruption, insurrection A rising or rebellion of citizens against their government, usually manifested by acts of violence.
Under federal law, it is a crime to incite, assist, or engage in such conduct against the United States.
INSURRECTION. and crime, are thrown asunder a·sun·der
1. Into separate parts or pieces: broken asunder.
2. Apart from each other either in position or in direction: The curtains had been drawn asunder. . (26) These "improper associations" between whites and blacks, Marple insisted, were part of the circumstances tempting Peter into rebellion and murder. Ordinary folk, then, were as responsible as masters for avoiding such relationships.
Ultra-Calvinism the Root Cause of Murder
What distinguished Marple's analysis of Peter's crime most from other, more general discussions of slave/master relations, however, is the very last reason he gave to explain Peter's moral insanity MORAL INSANITY, med. jur. A term used by medical men, which has not yet acquired much reputation in the courts. Moral insanity is said to consist in a morbid perversion of the moral feelings, affections, inclinations, temper, habits, and moral dispositions, without any notable lesion of , the sudden turn to crime. Marple closed his sermon by arguing that Peter became a murderer because of his "ultra" Calvinist beliefs. Disavowing any sectarian interest in theology, Marple explained that Peter believed himself not guilty of murder because "God foreknew before he was born what he would do, and if he foreknew it that it had to come to pass, and that he therefore was guilty of no wrong..... He said that he had found favor with God many years before, and that nothing he had done or could do since his conversion, could possibly forfeit his soul's salvation." (27) While Marple did believe murderers could be saved, by repenting and accepting forgiveness from God, he reiterated his belief in human responsibility: murderers like Peter could not rely on a previous conversion experience for their salvation. Marple concluded that Peter's conversion, if real, would have prevented his crimes. (28)
Knowing the religious context in which Peter lived provides important clues about why Marple and community leaders felt so strongly about "ultra" Calvinism. Rev. Marple was Methodist, and as such a missionary for a growing and popular denomination, but one which in Dade County could not establish a congregation until well after the Civil War. Marple's supporters were not Methodists, but county notables, including the judge and sheriff who presided over Peter's trial and execution. Why did they, as Marple tells us they did, ask a Methodist to help make sense out of Peter's murders, trial, and execution? Those concerned to make a moral lesson out of Peter's trial and execution were also church members, either Cumberland Presbyterians or Missionary Baptists, churches that had adopted a milder form of Calvinism than Peter's "ultra" version. (29) As churchmen and county leaders they believed that the liberties taken by ultras like Peter undermined their efforts to organize county institutions, churches included. Consequently, they saw missionary work Noun 1. missionary work - the organized work of a religious missionary
work - activity directed toward making or doing something; "she checked several points needing further work"
da'wah, dawah - missionary work for Islam as good and necessary and the antimissionary teachings of Baptists like Peter subversive of their efforts.
Whether or not Peter was a member of one of several antimissionary congregations in the region, Rev. Marple and his supporters understood the ideological link between Peter's ultra-Calvinism and the resistance of antimissionary Baptists to authorities. As community leaders, Marple's endorsers saw the refusal of antimissionary, ultra-Calvinists to participate in annual meetings or regional missionary ventures as part of a more general resistance to the banking, legal, and religious institutions they saw as bringing moral order in the new country in which they were pioneers and leaders.
Peter resisted his master's authority, and while he failed and became an object lesson for the community, the antimissionary "ultra" Calvinists of Sinking Creek Sinking Creek may refer to:
Without further analysis of the county's political climate and economic divisions, we should hesitate to accept as final this hypothesis: that Marple's unusual explication ex·pli·cate
tr.v. ex·pli·cat·ed, ex·pli·cat·ing, ex·pli·cates
To make clear the meaning of; explain. See Synonyms at explain.
[Latin explic of Peter's murderous behavior is best explained by community fissures, seen at the time as a theological division. Those endorsing Marple's attack on Calvinism were the county's better sorts, those leaders who were quick to see the benefits of political and religious association and who wished to expose as dangerous religious beliefs, specifically those of the ultra-Calvinist variety, that went unchecked or unsupervised, the very condition in which anti-missionary churches prided themselves on living.
Antimissionary Baptists blocked or slowed growth of Baptist churches in the region, resisting campaigns for regional cooperation and persisting in a formal association with the geographically distant Salem Association. Missionary Baptists were divided also, with allegiances among several overlapping associations. (30) Despite the several Baptist, two Cumberland Presbyterian, and two Christian congregations meeting in the county in 1850, actual church buildings could accommodate only 501 of the county population of 4,246. (31)
As the lone Methodist missionary in the county, Marple must have been grateful for support from community leaders of both Baptist and Presbyterian persuasion. He carefully distanced himself from the notion that salvation was ensured by a one-time conversion at a frontier revival meeting, a form of service which by 1848 was commonly viewed as a religious form marked by a mixed moral record. Marple's care to show off his learning, to not offend the very slaveholders he was accusing of inappropriate behavior, and especially his concern to affirm the established racial and social order of servants, lesser whites, and "respectable" whites suggests one feature that community leaders in Dade County shared with evangelicals of the previous generation. Like the southeastern seaboard ministers described by Donald Matthews as leaders in their communities, Marple and his supporters were currying favor with the respectable class in order to exert more evangelical influence in politics and society in general. (32)
(1.) Unless otherwise noted, the source for Peter's story is a printed sermon, found in Slavery Pamphlets, Vol. 2, Ohio Wesleyan University “OWU” redirects here. For other uses, see OWU (disambiguation).
This article concerns Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio; a number of other colleges and universities have names that include Wesleyan. Rare Book Archives; Rev. Perry B. Marple, Funeral Address on the Occasion of the Execution of Peter, Slave of James Douglass, Who Murdered Three of His Children, Attempted Suicide by Cutting His Throat, Feloniously Assaulted His Master, and Murdered His Mistress (Springfield, Mo.: E. D. M'Kenney, 1848).
(2.) Marple, 6-8.
(3.) There is a large literature dealing with slave insurrections, most of which is discussed in Winthrop Jordan's analysis of an 1861 plot by Mississippi slaves to murder their masters, Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy (Baton Rouge Baton Rouge (băt`ən rzh) [Fr.,=red stick], city (1990 pop. 219,531), state capital and seat of East Baton Rouge parish, SE La. : Louisiana State University Press This article needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. , 1993). See also Herbert Aptheker Herbert Aptheker (July 31, 1915 - March 17, 2003) was an internationally known American Marxist historian and political activist. He authored over 50 volumes, mostly in the fields of African American history and general U.S. , American Negro Slave Revolts (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , 1943); also Richard Wade Coach Richard Wade followed long-time coach and father, Dewey Wade, into a Canadian Football League career path. The former Kansas State Wildcat and San Francisco 49er held coaching assignments at the University of Buffalo, University of Maryland, Kansas State University and Utah , "The Vesey Plot: A Reconsideration," Journal of Southern History, 30 (May 1964). For the notion that slaves were content, see Thornton Stringfellow Thornton Stringfellow (1788-1869), was the reverend of Stevensburg Baptist Church in Culpeper County, Virginia. He is perhaps best known for his condoning African American slavery. , Scriptural scrip·tur·al
1. Of or relating to writing; written.
2. often Scriptural Of, relating to, based on, or contained in the Scriptures. and Statistical Views in Favor of Slavery (1856); also Eric L. McKitrick, Slavery Defended: The Views of the Old South (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963). See also Part IV, "Has `American Slavery' been an Evil to our Negroes Themselves?" in Slavery. A Treatise, Showing That Slavery Is Neither a Moral, Political, nor Social Evil (Penfield, Ga.: Benj. Brantly, 1844), 36-40.
(4.) Marple, ii.
(5.) The reluctance of most slave owners to write, much less publish, anything about slave violence has made incidents of rebellion very difficult for historians to trace; see Jordan, Tumult and Silence, chapter 6, "The Trials," in which Jordan discusses the extralegal ex·tra·le·gal
Not permitted or governed by law.
extra·le proceedings that led to the hanging of slaves near Natchez, Mississippi Natchez is the county seatGR6 and largest city within Adams County, Mississippi. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 18,464. .
(6.) The printed sermon is twenty-eight pages, most of which take four minutes to read, suggesting the public delivery of the sermon took at least 112 minutes.
(7.) Robert W. Duffner, "Slavery in Missouri River Missouri River
River, central U.S. The longest tributary of the Mississippi River, it rises in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Montana. It flows east to central North Dakota and south across South Dakota, forming sections of the South Dakota–Nebraska boundary, the Counties, 1820-1865" (Ph.D. diss diss
Variant of dis.
Slang, chiefly US to treat (a person) with contempt [from disrespect]
Verb 1. ., University of Missouri, 1974), 13 (Table 4), does not include Dade County in his list of counties with large slave population in 1850. See also Harrison Anthony Trexler, Slavery in Missouri, 1804-1865 (1914; reprint, Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, city (1990 pop. 109,592), seat of Washtenaw co., S Mich., on the Huron River; inc. 1851. It is a research and educational center, with a large number of government and industrial research and development firms, many in high-technology fields such as : University Microfilms, 1962), particularly the section on slave codes and slave court cases, 57-79. Also R. Douglas Hurt, Agriculture and Slavery in Missouri's Little Dixie Little Dixie is an informal name given to regions part of the American South where the culture was greatly influenced by the Southerners who settled there:
, 1992), which charts all Missouri counties in terms of their slave population, xii.
(8.) The census taker counted 21,463 improved and 36,850 unimproved acres. This and other compilations from the 1850 census come from J. D. B. DeBow, The Seventh Census of the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. : 1850 (Washington: Robert Armstrong, 1853), 675-81. Table IV shows only six "free coloreds" listed among the "colored" of the county.
(9.) Seventh Census, Table XI, 675-81.
(11.) Revised Statutes A body of statutes that have been revised, collected, arranged in order, and reenacted as a whole. The legal title of the collection of compiled laws of the United States, as well as some of the individual states. of the State of Missouri (St. Louis: A. Fisher, 1845), see chapters 72, 129, and 167-69.
(12.) Hurt, 238-43, notes that rental rates varied but were approximately 20 percent cheaper than hiring white laborers; that by 1850, annual hire (or serial monthly hire) of a slave cost about $200 for a skilled slave. It is unclear whether or not Peter had a skill like carpentry which would have brought this kind of "rent." For more on hiring prices, see Trexler, 31-32.
(13.) Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in The Classic Slave Narratives, ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (New York: Penguin, 1987), chapter 10, 314-15.
(14.) Marple, 4.
(16.) Marple, 2-4.
(17.) For discussion of slave personality, see John W. Blassingame, The Slave Community, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), chapter 8; also Herbert G. Gutman, "A Bicultural bi·cul·tur·al
Of or relating to two distinct cultures in one nation or geographic region: bicultural education.
bi·cul Model of Slave Behavior," in Major Problems in the History of the American South, Paul D. Escott and David R. Goldfield Goldfield, small town, SW Nev., a former gold-mining center. Gold was discovered there in 1902, and after an early period of disappointment, large yields of high quality gold were extracted. , eds. (Lexington, Mass: D. C. Health, 1990), 1: 325-30.
(18.) Marple, 20-21.
(19.) Ibid., 4, 21.
(20.) William Stanton William Stanton may refer to one of the following people:
beast powerless to change them. [O.T.: Jeremiah 13:23]
See : Impossibility
there always, as evilness with evil men. [O.T.: Jeremiah 13:23; Br. Lit.: Richard II]
See : Permanence : Scientific Attitudes Toward Race in America, 1815-159 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press The University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the United States. It is operated by the University of Chicago and publishes a wide variety of academic titles, including The Chicago Manual of Style, dozens of academic journals, including , 1960); and Thomas E Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press Southern Methodist University Press (or SMU Press) is a university press that is part of Southern Methodist University. External link
(21.) Marple, 1-2.
(22.) Marple, 15. The discussion of insanity takes eight pages of the sermon (9-16) and concludes with evidence for Peter's insanity, namely that when Marple "first saw the prisoner upon the street, under arrest, in the vehicle in which he was brought to jail, he was rather impressed with the idea that he might then be laboring under some delusion. This opinion was formed upon the peculiarity of the prisoner's gestures, an unnatural cant of the head, a singular quivering of the lips, and a wild expression of the eye. On one occasion soon after he was imprisoned im·pris·on
tr.v. im·pris·oned, im·pris·on·ing, im·pris·ons
To put in or as if in prison; confine.
[Middle English emprisonen, from Old French emprisoner : en- , the speaker again witnessed similar symptoms, with an additional utterance of some unmeaning un·mean·ing
1. Devoid of meaning or sense; meaningless: gave a vapid and unmeaning response to a difficult query.
2. vocal sounds."
(24.) Marple takes these terms from the Christian Scriptures, 1 Peter 4:15, and suggests the usual path of crime begins with small sins Small Sins is the Toronto-based indie rock act of Thomas D'Arcy, former member of The Carnations. The Small Sins were once known as The Ladies and Gentlemen, but due to legal reasons they had to change their name. and moves up to stealing and murder (16).
(25.) Marple, 16-18.
(26.) Ibid., 21.
(27.) Ibid., 23.
(28.) Ibid., 27-28.
(29.) Ten of the twenty-six people who endorsed Marple's sermon are names found frequently in History of Hickory Hickory, city, United States
Hickory, city (1990 pop. 28,301), Burke and Catawba counties, W N.C., at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mts.; inc. 1870. It is a processing and trade center for an abundant agricultural region (grain, soybeans, poultry, hogs, , Polk, Cedar, Dade and Barton Counties, Missouri (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1889) These endorsers included the sheriff, judge, and builder of the courthouse in which Peter was tried. The man heading Marple's list of endorsements was Matthias H. Allison, organizer of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
(30.) Angela Stiffler of the Partee Center, William Jewell College William Jewell College is a private, four-year liberal arts college of 1,274 undergraduate students located in Liberty, Missouri, U.S. It was founded in 1849 by members of the Missouri Baptist Convention and other civic leaders which included Robert James, a Baptist minister and , directed me to the classic by R. S. Duncan, A History of the Baptists in Missouri (St. Louis: Scammell, 1882) and provided me with minutes for Sac River, Liberty, and Spring River association meetings. The sense of the far-flung, theologically-based connections favored by some Baptist churches of Dade County and vicinity is best captured in Duncan, 290-98; 435-50.
(31.) Seventh Census, 690, counts two Moravian, two Presbyterian, two Christian, and seven Baptist churches in the county. Ministers for all these denominations are noted in the manuscript census, but Marple is not listed. According to Susan Cohen cohen
(Hebrew: “priest”) Jewish priest descended from Zadok (a descendant of Aaron), priest at the First Temple of Jerusalem. The biblical priesthood was hereditary and male. , Methodist Archivist ARCHIVIST. One to whose care the archives have been confided. , Ohio Wesleyan University, he appears briefly in Methodist records. Most early Baptists in the county were Missionary Baptists, a regional split off the Tennessee Duck River Duck River can refer to:
1. A river rising in the Cumberland Mountains of south-central Tennessee and meandering about 322 km (200 mi) generally west-southwest into northern Alabama.
2. A river, about 277 km (172 mi) long, of central West Virginia. Association in 1825. That first split involved the Elk River [later Missionary Baptist] group disagreeing with the extreme Calvinism of the Elk River group; see Frank S. Mead, Handbook of Denominations The Handbook of Denominations, also known as Abingdon's Handbook of Denominations, by Frank S. Mead and Samuel Hill, is a reference work on religious denominations, particularly but not exclusively Christian ones, based in North America or extensively in the United States (New York & Nashville: Abingdon, 1956), 36-37. The best early history records only four churches in the county in 1848, two Presbyterian and two Baptist; History of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade and Barton Counties, Missouri (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1889), 483-87.
(32.) Donald G. Mathews, Religion in the Old South (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1977), chapters 3, 4.
Deborah Bingham Van Broekhoven is executive director, American Baptist American Baptist may refer to:
The Village of Valley Forge is an unincorporated settlement located on the west side of Valley Forge National Historical Park at the .