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INTRODUCTION. IN consenting to write an introduction to the Autobiographyof one whom I have long known and honored, I desire to say that the nineteenth century has not been more remarkable for its discoveries in science, art, and all forms of material progress, than it has for the moral heroism of many men and women whose courage, faith, patience and self-sacrifice have done so much to promote justice and humanity, and for the advancement of theRedeemer's kingdom. Among these Christian patriots there is one whose long life of consecration to the good of his fellow men ought to be not only an example but an inspiration to the youth of our land. John G. Fee, of Berea, Ky., was born and raised under the influences of slavery and was surrounded by those powerfully conservative forces that held many good men to the defense of oppression.
The youth of our land can have little conception of theabsolute control that half a century ago the system of slavery had on the minds and consciences of the nation. Nothing but a sublime faith in God enabled the men and women of that day to cheerfully accept reproach, ostracism and ridicule as inevitable consequences of the defense of the poor and needy whose special claim was that they Page 4were at once the feeblest and most despised of the children of men. Nor has this been the sole, possibly not the greatest, of the moral conflicts that have demanded and developed a true, moral heroism. The spirit of caste, the outgrowth of slavery, was and is not less exacting and iniquitous. To regard a fellow man simply in his relation to his Maker, and to accord to him just that appreciation that his intelligence and moral worthiness demand, to do this without regard to sect or color, is still held in large sections of our country to be a crime against society which will not be tolerated when there is power to suppress it. So, too, the moral protest against oathbound secret societies, - the uncompromising hostility to the liquor traffic and to any form of legislative approval of it, and above all, the opposition to divisions in the church of Christ as seen in the sects and denominations, demand a moral heroism which needs to be not less steadfast and self-sacrificing than that which wrested from slavery its scepter of power.
PREFACE. Some six years since a friend requested that I prepare articlesfor the Berea Evangelist, on the topic, \"Berea: its History andits Work.\" I did so. The articles appeared in the Berea Evangelist during the years 1885-6. Since that time friends haveurged that I prepare a sketch of my leadings and labors up tomy coming to Berea, and embody the whole in a volume. To doso will now be labor and care; yet in this way I may be able todo continued good, - utter truth when my tongue shall be silent.I may be able in an emphatic way to say to the reader, Trust God - trust him for success, for support, for life. If in this wayyou will trust God, he by his word, by his Spirit and by hisprovidence, will lead you into the highest usefulness of which,in your day and generation, you are capable. Often trials willcome, friends fail, and the heavens above appear as brass andthe earth beneath as iron, yet if you will hold on with Jacob, orstand still with Moses, you will see the face of God; the Red Seaof difficulties will open before you, and you will walk throughdry shod. The future journey may indeed be a barren, stonywilderness, yet the manna will be fresh every morning and theshekinah of God will go before you and lead you across theJordan, where you will eat the \"new corn\" in the land ofpromise. To this my own consciousness bears testimony; were Ito say less I would not be faithful.
CONTENTS. CHAPTER I. Parentage. - Conversion. - College Life. - At theTheological Seminary. - Deep Conviction andConsecration. - Field of Labor. - Burden of Spirit. - Sealing of the Holy Spirit. - Wife Chosen. - Betrothal. - Search for the Field of Labor. - Marriage. - Called to the Church in LewisCounty. - Anti-Slavery Sermon. - Cast out of aBoarding-place . . . . . 9 - 30 CHAPTER II. A Home. - Resolutions of the Church. - Salary. - Meeting of Synod. - Resolutions. - My Withdrawal. - Ecclesiastical Position. - Union on Christ. - Separation from A. M. Society. - Anticipated Mob. - Prosecution of Hannahs. - Invitation to C. M. Clay. - Expected Violence. - Anti-Slavery Manual. - Protest against SecretOrders . . . . . 31 - 55 CHAPTER III. Commission from the A. M. A. - Preaching andChurch Building. - Redemption of a SlaveWoman. - Her Effort to Free her Children. - Her Capture and Imprisonment . . . . . 56-71 CHAPTER IV. Imprisonment of a Colporter. - Assault on Myself. - House Burning. - Church House. - Baptism. - Consideration of the Subject. - Baptism of Myself and Wife. - Invitation to Madison County. - Organization of a Church. - Call to the Church. - Selection of a Place. - Name, Berea . . . . . 72 - 93 Page 8 CHAPTER V. Removal to Madison County. - Projected College. - Its Foundation Principles. - Survey of Fields. - Mob at Dripping Springs. - Mob in RockcastleCounty. - Fourth of July. - C. M. Clay and Idiffer. - Mob in Rockcastle County. - Mob inMadison County. - Dark Days atBerea. - Entreaty to Leave. - Decision to HoldOn. - Trusts . . . . . 94 -124 CHAPTER VI. Coming of J. A. R. Rogers. - Visit of C. M. Clay. - His Expediencies. - The first Commencement.Adoption of a Constitution. - Caste. - Sectarianism. - Decision to Raise Funds. - Visit to the Imprisoned Mother. - Address in Plymouth Church. - Expulsion of Teachers and Friends at Berea. - Excitement in Bracken County. - Wife Returns to Berea. - Our Sojourn in Ohio. - Death and Burial of our Son Tappan. - Visit to Berea . . . . . 125 -160 CHAPTER VII. Effort to Get Back. - Battle at Richmond, Ky. - Again Mobbed at Augusta, Ky. - Mobbed atWashington, Ky. - Return of my Wife to Berea.Her Stay There. - Return to the Border. - Stay at Parker's Academy. - Return toBerea. - Resumption of the Work. - Moved to go to Camp Nelson - My Work There . . . . . 161 -183 CHAPTER VIII. Return to Berea. - Resumption of the Work. - The American Missionary Association. - WorkDenominational - Divisive. - Association ofMinisters and Churches. - Kentucky MissionaryAssociation. - A Convention of Christians. - AnAddress, \"Wherein We Differ from the Denominations.\" . . . . . 184-212 Page 9 CHAPTER I. Parentage. - Conversion. - College Life. - At theTheological Seminary. - Deep Conviction andConsecration. - Field of Labor. - Burden of Spirit. - Sealing of the Holy Spirit. - Wife Chosen. - Betrothal. - Search for the Field of Labor. - Marriage. - Called to the Church in LewisCounty. - Anti-Slavery Sermon. - Cast out of aBoarding-place.
In my boyhood I thought nothing about theinherent sinfulness of slavery. I saw it as aprevalent institution in the family life of myrelations on my father's side of the house. Thesewere kind to me, and occupied what Page 11were considered good social positions. I wasoften scolded for being so much with the slaves,and threatened with punishment when I wouldintercede for them. Slavery, like every other evilinstitution, bore evil fruits, blunted the finestsensibilities and hardened the tenderest hearts.
In the year 1830, when I was fourteen yearsold, Joseph Corlis, an earnest Christian man, tooka subscription school near to my father's house,and insisted with great earnestness that he beallowed to board in my father's family. There wasa providence in this. Under his prayers and faithfullabors, I was deeply convicted of sin and gavemyself to God. My desire was to connect myselfwith the M. E. church. My father opposed, sayingI was too young. He was not himself a Christian.Some two years after this he was awakened,joined the Presbyterian church near to his home,and requested that I go with him. I desired a homewith God's people, and gladly embraced theopportunity. After the lapse of some two years Iwas impressed that it was my duty to prepare forthe Gospel ministry. I soon entered as a student inAugusta College, then located in Augusta,Bracken Co., Ky., my native county. I prosecutedmy studies there for about two and a-halfyears, then went to Miami University, atOxford, Ohio, and there finished my Page 13course of classical study save the review of thelast term of study; and finding I could do this atAugusta College, and enter Lane TheologicalSeminary at the beginning of the term of studythere, I returned to Augusta College and took mydiploma there. I entered Lane Seminary in the year1842. Here I met in class one of my formerclassmates, John Milton Campbell, a formerstudent at Oxford, Ohio. He was a man of markedpiety and great goodness of heart. Yearspreviously he had consecrated himself to the workof missions and chose West Africa as his field.Another member of the same class was James C.White, formerly of Boston, Massachusetts, latepastor of the Presbyterian church on Poplar St.,Cincinnati. These brethren became deeplyinterested in me as a native of Kentucky and inview of my relation to the slave system, my fatherbeing a slaveholder. They pressed upon myconscience the text, \"Thou shalt love the Lord thyGod with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself,\" and as a practical manifestation of this, \"Dounto men as ye would they should do unto you.\" I sawthat the duty enjoined was fundamental in the religion Page 14of Jesus Christ, and that unless I embraced theprinciple and lived it in honest practice, I wouldlose my soul. I saw also that as an honest man Iought to be willing to wear the name which wouldbe a fair exponent of the principle I espoused.This was the name Abolitionist, odious then tothe vast majority of people North, and especiallySouth. For a time I struggled between odium onthe one hand, and manifest duty on the other. Isaw that to embrace the principle and wear thename was to cut myself off from relatives andformer friends, and apparently from all prospectsof usefulness in the world. I had in the grove nearthe seminary a place to which I went every dayfor prayer, between the hours of eleven andtwelve. I saw that to have light and peace fromGod, I must make the consecration. I said, \"Lord,if needs be, make me an Abolitionist.\" Thesurrender was complete. I arose from my kneeswith the consciousness that I had died to theworld and accepted Christ in all the fullness of hischaracter as I then understood Him. Self must besurrendered. The test, the point of surrender, maybe one thing to one man, a different thing toanother man; but it must be made, - all given toChrist. 59ce067264