by Rev Thomas Littleton 12/14/2018
On November 27th 2018, “The Glaring Racial Hypocrisy of Al Mohler & Russell Moore” was published concerning the racial hypocrisy of two central Southern Baptist leaders both with career ties to the flagship seminary, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Yesterday, on December 13th, SBTS released their report on the racism in the seminary’s history, both on their website and to secular media, including the Wall Street Journal.
Here is the WSJ article: “Southern Baptist Seminary Acknowledges Past Ties to White Supremacy.”
NPR has also picked up the story: “Southern Baptist Seminary Confronts History of Slaveholding and ‘Deep Racism’.”
WHAT IS NOT ADDRESSED IN THE REPORT AND PUBLIC CONFESSIONAL
Dr. Mohler ordered the report to be complied and he is featured fronting its release into the public “confessional.” The report does present the horrific history in great detail of Joseph Emerson Brown, a long time Georgia politician and judge during the Civil War and Reconstruction era. Brown is credited with having “saved SBTS from financial collapse” twice by his large financial gifts, and in honoring him a Chair of Theology was named in honor of Brown. What neither Mohler nor the report point out is that in 2005 Mohler ascended the Joseph E Brown Chair of Theology with great pomp and pride, including accolades from Russell Moore, then Dean of Students now head of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the SBC. Mohler paid great honor to Brown and to his history and the Chair in the 2005 ceremony.
PROUD MOHLER KEEP ON TURNING
In November of 2018 the Baptist Press announced that Albert Mohler was elected Vice President of the Evangelical Theological Society. In that article, a brief bio of Mohler noted that “Mohler, now in his 25th year as president of Southern Seminary, has been at the forefront of public theological dialogue in evangelicalism. In addition to his responsibilities at Southern, Mohler also is the seminary’s Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology.”
“LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees has elected President R. Albert Mohler Jr. to the Joseph Emerson Brown Chair of Christian Theology.
“The chair has been held by other giants on the landscape of Southern Seminary’s history such as founding President James Pettigru Boyce and E.Y. Mullins, seminary president from 1899 to 1928. Mohler was elected the seminary’s ninth president in 1993.”
Fellow Southern Baptist Race Baiter, Russell Moore, now head of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, had the greatest of praise for Mohler’s ascent to the esteemed position in 2005:
“It is an historic chair in systematic theology and we believe an historic president like Dr. Mohler deserves to be teaching from this chair,” said Russell D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration, after the Seminary Trustee action on April 26. “This will be a great and momentous act in Southern Seminary history.”
“The chair is named in honor of Joseph Emerson Brown, who served two terms as governor of Georgia during the Civil War and played a critical role in keeping Southern Seminary from closing on two separate occasions.
“The first came during Reconstruction in the 1870s. The seminary, then located in Greenville, S.C., emerged from the Civil War financially destitute and faced closure. Brown, a seminary trustee, donated $50,000 which kept seminary doors open and left the institution in sound fiscal health for many years.
“In the 1870s, $50,000 was worth what is now several million dollars in constant cash,” Mohler said. “It answered the question as to whether the seminary would survive. It actually allowed the seminary to go from a question of survival to the reality of thriving.”
Mohler was equally proud of the honor bestowed on him as he assumed the staunch advocate of slavery SBTS chair:
“This means more than I can say,” Mohler said of the trustee action.
“Especially with Dr. Boyce and Dr. Mullins holding that chair during their presidencies, it is an historical connection that speaks to my heart and to the sense of calling.
“It also is a reminder that the Lord has used significant individuals [such as Brown] to make this institution what it is. Some of these names are inscribed on buildings, some are memorialized in scholarship and professorships, and it is easy for us to forget what they meant and who they were.
AGAIN, WHO IS JOSEPH E. BROWN?
ANSWER FOUND IN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY ARCHIVES AND OTHER HISTORIC SOURCES
The SBTS archives and special collections reveal the pivotal role played by Joseph Emerson Brown in the history of SBTS. “After the Civil War, the seminary faced closure. The seminary community faced other challenges. The faculty carried out constant fundraising efforts in the 1880s and traveled extensively to solicit donations. Notable successes included fifty thousand dollars from U.S. Senator Joseph E. Brown of Georgia and twenty-five thousand dollars from prominent Baptist oilman J. D. Rockefeller.”
“Joseph E. Brown made a fortune in the growth of the Railroad industry after his term as Governor of Georgia, during the lead up to and the duration of the Civil War. He was Georgia Governor and served 2 terms after which he went on to be elected senator and serve on the supreme court of Georgia. According to his biography Brown was ‘A former Whig, and a firm believer in slavery and Southern states’ rights, he defied the Confederate government’s wartime policies…. He denounced Confederate President Jefferson Davis as an incipient tyrant, and challenged Confederate impressment of animals and goods to supply the troops, and slaves to work in military encampments and on the lines. Several other governors followed his lead.”
According to Douglas Blackmon’s Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008), p. 347, Joseph E. Brown owned slave mines of the cruelest sort:
“The most powerful politician in Georgia from the 1860s until his death in 1894, Brown, still contemptuous of the Emancipation Proclamation, filled his mines with scores of black men forced into the shafts against their will. A legislative committee visiting the sites the same year [Brown sold] them said the prisoners were ‘in the very worst condition…actually being starved and not having sufficient clothing…treated with great cruelty.”
WHAT DOES THE NEW SBTS REPORT SAY ABOUT JOSEPH E. BROWN IN POINT #7 ON PAGE 8 OF THE SBTS REPORT?
7. Joseph E. Brown, the seminary’s most important donor and chairman of its Board of Trustees 1880-1894, earned much of his fortune by the exploitation of mostly black convict-lease laborers. Joseph E. Brown’s coal mines and iron furnaces coerced the full extent of labor from Georgia convicts by employing the same brutal punishments and tortures formerly employed by slave drivers. The legal system entrapped thousands of black men, often on trumped up charges and without any due process protections, and earned money for sheriffs and state treasuries by selling their labor. It was worse than slavery. Investigations of Brown’s Dade Coal operation concluded that “if there is a hell on earth, it is the Dade coal mines.” Brown reaped enormous profits from his coal and iron businesses. His 1880 gift of $50,000 was instrumental in saving the seminary from financial collapse. At his death, the seminary honored him for his service as a trustee and for the generous financial support he had provided.”
EXPANDED PROFILE ON BROWN
While this page gives an overview of Joseph Brown’s radical racism, even for his time his extreme cruelty and profiting on prison labor “worse than slavery” is addressed in detail starting at page 34.
Read as far as your heart and constitution will allow you and then recall Albert Mohler still sits on this Joseph E. Brown Chair of Theology – having accepted it with honor – making no mention of that fact in his letter or in the SBTS report.
THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY REPORT PAGES 34-38
7—JOSEPH E. BROWN AND THE CONVICT-LEASE SYSTEM
“In 1880 Joseph E. Brown saved the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He offered to give $50,000 without any conditions. Boyce made the gift conditional on the success of raising an additional $150,000. And he did succeed. Brown’s gift was so evidently an answer to the specific prayers of Boyce, the faculty, and the students, that none doubted that it was God’s extraordinary work of provision. Before Brown’s gift, he had already served on the seminary’s board of trustees from 1872 to 1877.
“After his $50,000 contribution, he naturally was nominated and elected to the board of trustees again in 1880. He served on the board until his death in 1894 and was its chairman 1883-1894. Brown was, as the most extensive study of his life noted, the most influential man in Georgia from 1857 until the late 1880s.93 Brown grew up working his family’s farm in the mountainous terrain of northeast Georgia. He borrowed money to gain three years of formal education in South Carolina.
“He taught school in Canton, Georgia, to repay the debt and began studying law. A benefactor noticed his hard work and intellectual gifts and paid his way to Yale Law School. Brown returned to establish a prosperous legal practice in Canton. He won election to the state legislature in 1849 and as a circuit judge in 1855. He was elected governor and served from 1857 to 1865. After the war, Brown served five years as chief justice of Georgia’s Supreme Court and two terms as a United States Senator.
“Brown’s views on the politics of slavery were apparently similar to those of Boyce and Benjamin C. Pressley. He had always opposed the 1850 compromises. He opposed prohibiting slavery from California and from other parts of the Union. On the day of the 1860 election and before the results were known, he asked the legislature to set a date for an election of delegates to a secession convention and he asked for an appropriation of one million dollars to begin military preparations. He believed that these actions would help secure a negotiated resolution of the political conflict and thereby preserve both slavery and the union. The legislature granted both requests.94
“When Lincoln’s victory was announced, Brown immediately published his arguments in favor of Georgia’s secession from the United States. Lincoln represented a political party, Brown wrote, whose
92 Edwin C. Dargan to John A. Broadus, 9 Feb. 1891, box 16, Broadus Papers, SBTS. 93 Joseph H. Parks, Joseph E. Brown of Georgia (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1977), 578. 94 Derrell C. Roberts, Joseph E. Brown and the Politics of Reconstruction (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1973), 11-13.
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“principles were “deadly hostile to the institution of slavery and openly at war with the fundamental doctrines of the Constitution.” The Lincoln presidency would result in “the total abolition of slavery and the utter ruin of the South.”95
“During Reconstruction, Brown, like Boyce in South Carolina, advocate quick reconciliation with the North and submission to its terms of reunion. He even became a scalawag—he joined the Republican party and identified with its moderate members. He advocated submission to the terms dictated by the president or by Congress, which meant accepting the legal equality of the freed slaves, but he did not believe that full equality could exist. He qualified his advocacy of accepting the Republican terms of reunion: “I did not say that the negroes are equals of the white race. God did not make them so; and man can never change the status which the Creator assigned to them. . .. They will never be placed upon a basis of political equality with us.” 96 Brown personally held that blacks should not have the right to hold political office—that was the birthright of whites—but as the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, he ruled that according to the law, black legislators must be allowed to serve in their duly elected positions.97
“In 1881 Brown expressed concern that white rule could be overthrown in a new campaign to unite black voters with white independent voters to defeat Democratic candidates in the South. “I thank you for your kind note just received,” Brown wrote James P. Boyce. “I am glad you take what seems to me to be the proper view of the situation here. If it were the small matter of a few offices and who should fill them from now to 1st Dec. the Democrats would have less excuse and not so full a justification of their conduct, but this matter is intended to go far beyond that. The contract with Malone looks to the reconstruction of Va. first and then of the whole South by taking the negro element and putting it with what is known as the independent element and forming a party of it stronger than the democratic or white party. There is going to be a very serious effort made to put it into execution all over the south which would virtually put the white race back under the domination of the colored.”98
“When Brown died in 1894, the faculty, students, and trustees adopted resolutions in honor of him. The faculty sent Franklin H. Kerfoot, Boyce’s successor in the chair of theology, as the seminary’s representative to the funeral, since Broadus, who was by then president, was too ill to attend. Kerfoot expressed the seminary’s gratitude for Brown’s close relationship to the seminary: 95 Brown’s public letter was dated 7 Dec. 1860 and was published in the leading newspapers and as a broadside. See Parks, Joseph E. Brown, 114-115.
96 Roberts, Joseph E. Brown, 33-59, 78-79; quote from the Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel, 11 June 1865, quoted in Roberts, 40. 97 Roberts, Joseph E. Brown, 66-68. 98 Joseph E. Brown to James P. Boyce, 8 Apr. 1881, box 16, Broadus Papers, SBTS.
Joseph E. Brown (1821–1894)
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“Governor Brown was a friend and helper of our Seminary. . .. He has been for years, and was at the time of his death, the honored president of our Board of Trustees. When his pressing duties and the condition of his health permitted he was with us at our annual meetings. He presided with dignity and grace, and courtesy to all, and by his earnest belief in an educated ministry, and his wise counsels, and his abiding interest in the Seminary, and his repeated gifts, he continued to contribute to its prosperity.99
“Brown’s name has endured in memory for another reason—he earned much of his vast fortune by leasing convicts from the state of Georgia. His exploitation of black convict laborers made his Georgia and Tennessee coal and steel operations notorious as places of suffering and hopelessness. This legacy endured in southern folk songs.
“Joe Brown, Joe Brown,
He’s a mean white man,
He’s a mean white man.
I know, honey, he put them shackles around,
Around my leg.100
“In 1932 folklorist Lawrence Gellert transcribed the songs of a convict chain-gang near Augusta, Georgia. One song recalled the experience of convicts who were leased by the state to Brown’s Dade Coal Company.
“Says I’m bound to Joe Brown’s coal mine,
Says I’m bound to Joe Brown’s coal mine.
And it’s Lordy me and it’s Lordy mine,
Says I’m bound to Joe Brown’s coal mine.101
“In his 1958 recording, “Beat It on down the Line,” Jesse Fuller, who grew up in Georgia in the early twentieth century, evoked the memory of Joe Brown to represent the bleak prospects of blacks who decided to return to the South: “Lord, I’m going back to my ‘used to be,’ down in Joe Brown’s coal mine.”102
“Before the war, Brown was an upcountry attorney and planter who won election as a state senator representing Cherokee and Cobb counties, and as a circuit court judge. He won election as governor of Georgia in 1857 and led Georgia to secede from the United States. Throughout his life, he bought land when he saw a good value and sold it for profit whenever he needed capital for another good opportunity. He made a great deal of money buying and selling mineral rights in north Georgia in the 1850s.103 He was a slaveholder. His wife, Elizabeth Grisham Brown, brought several slaves into the marriage.10 She recorded in her diary that her husband bought at least eight slaves between 1853 and 1855, 99 Franklin H. Kerfoot, “Hon. Joseph Emerson Brown,” Seminary Magazine 8 (1894): 130-131.
100 Alex Lichtenstein, Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South (New York: Verso Books, 1996), 105. 101 Gellert cited in Matthew J. Mancini, One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928 (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1996), 81. 102 Jesse Fuller, “Beat It on down the Line,” The Lone Cat LP (Good Time Jazz Records, 1958). 103 Parks, Joseph E. Brown, 16-17. 104 Parks, Joseph E. Brown, 5.
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“and that they often had large numbers of slaves at their place.105
“William Ward, one of Brown’s former slaves, recalled many years later that Brown held fifty to seventy-five slaves, most of whom he hired out to other farmers and businesses who paid him for their labor. Brown may have bought and sold slaves as investments the same way he did land and mineral rights. Elizabeth Brown recorded in her diary that her slave “Celia gave me some insolent jaw for which her master whipped her.”106 She recorded that on another occasion he “whipped Emma [Celia’s daughter] for nothing to show me he was master.”107
“Ward remembered Brown as “a kind person” who “never mistreated his slaves,” but who had them whipped for such infractions as fighting, stealing, and visiting other plantations without permission. Ward said that “one of the soundest thrashings he ever got was for stealing Mr. Brown’s whiskey.” Few of Brown’s slaves attempted escape, partly because of his mildness and partly because Brown kept “a pack of blood hounds.”108
“Both the Republican and the Democratic governments in Georgia leased state prisoners to repair the railroads that Sherman’s troops destroyed and to construct new lines. In 1873 it became apparent that the legislature was going to expand convict leasing to other industries and Brown established the Dade Coal Company.109 In 1874 the state of Georgia granted a lease to Brown’s Dade Coal Company for 88 of the state’s 616 convicts. By the end of the year, the state had sent 152 convicts to Dade Coal, which paid the state less than $800 for their labor. Many, perhaps all, of Brown’s convicts were leased from the state of Georgia. It is possible however that his businesses leased others convicted of minor offenses in county and local jurisdictions, often on fabricated charges in sham legal proceedings—sheriffs rarely recorded the names of the victims of such proceedings and were not required to report them to state authorities.110
“The Dade Coal Company formed the nucleus of Brown’s enterprises. With Dade Coal’s profits and capital investment raised by Boston financier Jacob Seaver, Brown established a conglomerate trust, the Georgia Mining, Manufacturing, and Investment Company, comprising six distinct corporations engaged in coal and iron mining, coke furnace operations, and pig iron production. For two decades these enterprises helped drive industrial and economic growth in Georgia. Convict-lease laborers extracted the coal that fuelled Georgia’s expanding railroad network, powered Georgia’s industries, and fired Brown’s iron furnaces. By the time of Brown’s death in 1894, Dade Coal worked 550 convicts, by far the largest number of any lessee. And it was all enormously profitable for Brown, who personally netted $98,000 from Dade Coal Company in 1880 alone.111 Convict labor was intended for blacks. Southern state and county governments used the convict lease system to provide a reliable source of cheap labor especially for mining, manufacturing, railroad construction, and turpentine extraction. By 1876 nearly all of Georgia’s coal miners were convicts, and the vast majority were black. Of the 371 convicts working in the Dade coal mines in 1880, 340 were black, 92 percent. Southern legislatures drafted harsh penalties for new regulations against loitering,
105 Parks, Joseph E. Brown, 16. 106 Parks, Joseph E. Brown, 16, footnote. 107 Parks, Joseph E. Brown, 11, 16. 108 William Ward, Works Progress Administration Slave Narratives, Georgia, vol. 13, pt. 4, 128-33. 109 For an account of convict leasing in Georgia, and Joseph E. Brown’s role in it, see Mancini, One Dies, Get Another, 81-98; and Lichtenstein, Twice the Work, 105-25. 110 See Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (New York: Anchor Books, 2008); David M. Odinsky, Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996); Mancini, One Dies, Get Another. 111 Mancini, One Dies, Get Another, 86.
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“breaking a labor contract, and carrying a weapon, such as were suited to special enforcement to entrap blacks in the convict-lease system and as a means of social and economic control of blacks.112
“White judges and juries tended to convict and punish black defendants on severe charges with harsh sentences, and to acquit white defendants or relax their punishments. Many black defendants were innocent or had committed minor infractions. White sheriffs and employers colluded to contrive charges against blacks who came to their attention because they were not sufficiently deferential to whites, or because an employer needed a new supply of convict laborers, or to reinforce the policy that blacks must do what whites tell them to do.113
“The convict-lease system of penal labor was better suited to abuse than slavery itself. Lessees paid such small sums for each convict that they had very little economic stake in the health or survival of the convicts. As one lessee in North Carolina phrased it, “if one dies, get another.”114 Convict lessees generally overworked convicts, punished them with cruel severity for any failure to perform at high efficiency, held them in wretched conditions, and fed them poorly. These conditions and the inherent dangers of mining coal led to a high death rate—thirteen of Dade Coal’s convicts died in the first nine months. The Dade Coal Company mines required each convict to mine a specified number of tons each day. The number differed for each convict. Any convict who failed to make his quota would be whipped severely. Some “whipping bosses” whipped newly arrived convicts daily upon their arrival to “break them in.”115
“Quotas were deliberately kept beyond the reach of reasonable labor, to extort from convicts the maximum effort possible. Those who made their daily quota too easily or regularly, would have their quota increased. Since convicts’ chief motivation was to make their quota to avoid being whipped, they did not have time to take safety precautions, and convicts died in convict mine accidents at twice the rate of free labor mines.
“Brown claimed that the work was quite “moderate,” and that the convicts were well treated. He held that blacks would not work effectively or even take adequate care of themselves unless they were compelled to do so. The forced labor of the convict leases was therefore beneficial to black convicts.116 Grand juries and legislative committees investigated the conditions of the convict camps and mines periodically and varied wildly in their evaluation of the conditions there.
“The record is clear enough—the camps were places with poor sanitation, poor food, excessive labor, unsafe conditions, and brutal punishments for the least infractions. Georgia legislator W. H. Styles investigated the conditions at Brown’s mines in 1892 and concluded that “if there is a hell on earth, it is the Dade coal mines.”117 In 1886, 109 convicts refused to work at Brown’s coke furnaces to protest their wretched working conditions—the excessive labor required, the brutal punishments, and the poor food. They said that they “were ready to die and would as soon be dead as to live in torture.”
“The keeper of the convicts isolated the men and starved them until the strike collapsed a few days later.118 Brown was no outlier. His views of white superiority and his easy defense of the convict-lease penal system were fairly common. Henry H. Tucker, a member of Southern Seminary’s board of trustees
112 See esp. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name, 1-83. 113 See esp. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name, 117-54. 114 The quote is from a southern delegate to the 1883 National Prison Association meeting, cited by Hastings Hart in Mancini, One Dies, Get Another, 3. 115 Lichtenstein, Twice the Work, 134. See similarly, Mancini, One Dies, Get Another, 51, 75-76, 93-94. 116 See Lichtenstein, Twice the Work, 126-51. 117 Cited in Lichtenstein, Twice the Work, 142. 118 Mancini, One Dies, Get Another, 90.
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“1880-1889 who had served as president of Mercer University and chancellor of the University of Georgia, defended the practice of convict leasing in Georgia when the National Prison Association met in Atlanta in 1886. He claimed that Georgia’s convicts were well cared for because they were fully protected by laws that guaranteed humane treatment and access to good food, rest, clothing, and healthcare. The laws were sure to be honored, Tucker argued, because the men who paid the state treasury for the leases were “sure to be men of character, . . . worthy of respect and confidence,” who would have an interest in the welfare of the convicts. Tucker concluded with the absurd claim that the system was not really even punishment for black convicts, since they were suited to this kind of labor and enjoyed better food and clothing in the camps than they did in freedom.119
“The corruption, the cronyism, and the bald brutality of the convict-lease system made it sufficiently unpopular among voting whites in the South that Progressive political leaders came to oppose it. In Georgia, governor Hoke Smith won election on a Southern Progressive platform of statewide prohibition of alcohol, constitutional disfranchisement of black Georgians, and abolition of the convict-lease system, and accomplished all three in 1908. It is impossible to know how many of the seminary’s donors and trustees were involved in the convict-lease labor system, but given its extensive implementation throughout the South, it is reasonable to conclude that Joseph E. Brown was not the only one. Donors were donors because they engaged in a range of business operations of such scale that they could not have avoided all involvement in the common business and labor practices of the day.
“Some donors no doubt profited from businesses predicated on slave industries in Latin America. Cuba abolished slavery in 1886. Brazil was the last nation in the Americas to abolish slavery two years later. Slave labor undergirded the economically efficient production of sugar and coffee. Both nations benefitted from the steep decline in sugar production in the United States as a result of emancipation. The Levering brothers in Baltimore were two of the seminary’s most important donors and played leading roles as trustees. Much of their fortune derived from the coffee business. When coffee prices collapsed in 1889, one result was that the Leverings would probably be unable to contribute to the seminary’s critical building campaign that year.120 It is likely that their fortune derived in significant measure from slave labor in Brazil and Cuba”
End of Report on Joseph E Brown.
Dr Albert Mohler removing the stain of racism from the SBC and SBTS starts with you.
Matthew 7 New King James Version
Do Not Judge
7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.