Southwestern Historical Quarterly
state in which this parent branch of American Methodism in-
sisted upon maintaining a conference, or organization of local
churches, in the face of objections from the younger Methodist
Episcopal Church, South.
The contest on a statewide scale between pro-slavery extremists
and die-hard Unionists in Texas remained primarily political as
expressed at the ballot box. But it reached a new high in 1859
when Sam Houston as the champion of Union and the Constitu-
tion defeated Hardin R. Runnels' bid for a second term as gov-
ernor. Houston had no more solid support than in the North
Texas counties, whose people felt that his victory at the polls
largely had settled the question of Texas taking part in any
rift of the Union.
But pro-slavery leaders in the North Texas area by that time
felt goaded to register their sentiments outside the polling
booths. In April of 1859 the annual conference of the Northern
Methodist Church embracing northern Texas met on Brushy
Creek in Fannin County. A mass meeting held simultaneously in
the county seat of Bonham denounced the conference. Several
hundred members then proceeded by horseback the five miles
to the conference meeting. There the mob forced the Reverend
Anthony Bewley, chief minister on the Texas mission, and other
delegates including the presiding bishop, to disperse. The church-
men were warned that blood would flow if they continued their
ministry in Texas. The temper of the pro-slavery men was in-
flamed further the same year when John Brown staged his raid
on Harper's Ferry in Virginia some months later.
It was the presidential contest of 186o, though, that hastened
a showdown in the long intersectional dispute. The ill-fated
Democratic National Convention, meeting at Charleston that
spring, split hopelessly over the selection of national standard
bearers, thus opening the way to victory for nominees of the
recently formed Republican Party. The Republican nomination
of Abraham Lincoln for president was taken as a direct chal-
lenge to Southern secessionists, a turn viewed with the gravest
concern by pro-Southern leaders in North Texas.
In the interval between Lincoln's nomination and his election
in November, 186o, public opinion in North Texas was greatly
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed April 28, 2016.