ministers in 1776. The Burgher Synod in 1764 sent Thomas Clarke of Ballybay, Ireland, who settled at Salem, Washington county, New York, and in 1776 sent David Telfair, of Monteith, Scotland, who preached in Philadelphia; they united with the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania; in 1771 the Scotch Synod ordered the presbytery to annul its union with the Burghers, and although Dr Clarke of Salem remained in the Associate Presbytery, the Burgher ministers who immigrated later joined the Associate Reformed Church. In 1769-1774 there was a futile attempt to secure the union of the Associate Presbytery with the main American Church.
2. From the War of Independence to the Civil War.—During the War of Independence the Presbyterian churches suffered severely. Ministers and people with few exceptions—the most notable being the Scotch Highlanders who had settled in the valley of the Mohawk in New York and on Cape Fear river in North Carolina—sided with the patriot or Whig party: John Witherspoon was the only clergyman in the Continental Congress of 1776, and was otherwise a prominent leader; John Murray of the Presbytery of the Eastward was an eloquent leader in New England; and in the South the Scotch-Irish were the backbone of the American partisan forces, two of whose leaders, Daniel Morgan and Andrew Pickens, were Presbyterian elders.
At the close of the War the Presbyterian bodies began at once to reconstruct themselves. In 1782 the presbyteries of the Associate and Reformed churches united, forming the Associate and Reformed Synod of North America; but as there were a few dissenters in both bodies the older Associate and Reformed Presbyteries remained as separate units—the Associate Presbytery continued to exist under the same name until 1801, when it became the Associate Synod of North America; in 1818 it ceased to be subordinate to the Scotch General Synod. The Associate Reformed Synod added in 1794 a fourth presbytery, that of Londonderry, containing most of the New England churches, but in 1801 “disclaimed” this presbytery because it did not take a sufficiently strict view of the question of psalm-singing. The Reformed Presbytery of North America was reconstituted by two ministers from Ireland in 1798; it became a synod of three presbyteries in 1809 and a general synod in 1823; in the first decade of the century the presbytery required all members to free their slaves. The synod of New York and Philadelphia, which in 1781 had organized the presbytery of Redstone, the first of western Pennsylvania, in 1788 resolved itself into a General Assembly, which first met in Philadelphia in 1789, and after revising the chapters on Church and state, adopted the Westminster symbols as to their constitution, “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures,” and they made them unalterable without the consent of two-thirds of the presbyteries and the General Assembly. In 1801 a “plan of union” proposed by the General Association (Congregational) of Connecticut was accepted by the General Assembly, and the work of home missions in the western section of the country was prosecuted jointly. The result was mixed churches in western New York and the new states west of the Alleghany Mountains, which grew into presbyteries and synods having peculiar features midway between Presbyterianism and Congregationalism.
The general strictness of the church in its requirements for ministerial education occasioned it great loss in this period when the territory beyond the Appalachians was being settled so largely by Scotch-Irish and Presbyterians. The revivals in Kentucky brought about differences which resulted in the high-handed exclusion of the revivalists. These formed themselves into the presbytery of Cumberland, on the 4th of February 1810, which grew in three years into a synod of three presbyteries and became the “Cumberland Presbyterian Church.” In 1813 they revised the Westminster Confession and excluded, as they claimed, fatalism and infant damnation. If they had appealed to the General Assembly they might have received justice, or possibly the separation might have been on a larger scale. In 1822, under the influence of John Mitchell Mason (1770-1829), the Associate Reformed Synod combined with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, but the majority was too slender to make the union thorough. The greater part of the ministers decided to remain separate, and accordingly organized three independent synods—New York, Scioto and the Carolinas. In 1858 the associate synods of the north and west united with the Associate Synod as the United Presbyterian Church. In 1833 the Reformed Presbyterian Church divided into New Lights and Old Lights in a dispute as to the propriety of Covenanters exercising the rights of citizenship under the constitution of the United States.
A great and widespread revival marked the opening years of the century, resulting in marvellous increase of zeal and numbers. New measures were adopted, doctrines were adapted to the times, and ancient disputes were revived between the conservative and progressive forces. Theological seminaries had been organized: the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Princeton, N.J., founded in 1812 by the General Assembly; the Auburn Theological Seminary at Auburn, N.Y., founded in 1819 by the synod of Geneva, and afterwards associated with the New School; a school at Hampden Sidney, Virginia, founded by the synod of Virginia in 1824, named Union Theological Seminary in Virginia after 1826, supported after 1828 by the synods of Virginia and North Carolina, and in 1898 removed to Richmond, Va.; the Western Theological Seminary, founded at Allegheny (Pittsburg), Pa., in 1827 by the General Assembly; the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina, founded in 1828 by the synod of South Carolina; Lane Theological Seminary, founded independently in 1829 by the New School at Cincinnati, Ohio; and Union Theological Seminary, founded in 1836 by independent action of New School men, in New York City. Differences in doctrine as well as polity and discipline became more and more prominent. The doctrinal differences came to a head in the trials of George Duffield (1832), Lyman Beecher (1835) and Albert Barnes (1836) which, however, resulted in the acquittal of the accused, but which increased friction and ill feeling. The differences developed were chiefly between general atonement and atonement for the elect only and between mediate imputation and immediate imputation.
The agitation with reference to African slavery threw the bulk of the Southern Presbyterians on the Old Side, which was further strengthened by the accession of the Associate Reformed. The ancient differences between Old and New Side were revived, and once more it was urged that there should be (1) strict subscription, (2) exclusion of the Congregationalized churches, and strict Presbyterian polity and discipline, and (3) the condemnation and exclusion of the new divinity and the maintenance of scholastic orthodoxy. In 1834 a convention of the Old Side was held in Philadelphia, and the “Act and Testimony” was adopted charging doctrinal unsoundness and neglect of discipline upon the New Side, and urging that these should be excluded from the Church. The moderate men on both sides opposed this action and strove for peace or an amicable separation, but in vain. In 1837 the Old Side obtained the majority in the General Assembly for the second time only in seven years; they seized their opportunity and abrogated the “Plan of Union of 1801 with the Connecticut Congregationalists,” cut off the synod of Western Reserve and then the synods of Utica, Geneva and Genesee, without a trial, and dissolved the third presbytery of Philadelphia without providing for the standing of its ministers. The New Side men met in convention at Auburn, N.Y., in August 1837, and adopted measures for resisting the wrong, but in the General Assembly of 1838 the moderator refused to recognize their commissioners. On an appeal to the assembly the moderator's decision was reversed, a new moderator was chosen, and the assembly adjourned to another place of meeting. The Old Side remained after the adjournment and organized themselves, claiming the historic succession. Having the moderator and clerks from the assembly of 1837, they retained the books and papers. Thus two General Assemblies were organized, the Old and the New School. An appeal was made to the civil courts, which decided (1839) in favour of the New School; but this decision was overruled and a new trial ordered. It was deemed best, however, to cease litigation and to leave matters as they were.
Several years of confusion followed. In 1840 we have the first safe basis for comparison of strength.
The “sides” remained separate throughout the remainder of this period. The North was especially agitated by the slavery question. In 1847 the synod of the Free Presbyterian Church was formed by the anti-slavery secession of the presbytery of Ripley, O. (New School), and a part of the presbytery of Mahoning, Pa., (Old School); this synod, then numbering five presbyteries with 43 ministers, joined the New School Assembly during the Civil War. In 1850 the New School Assembly declared slave-holding, unless excusable for some special reason, a cause for discipline; in 1853 it asked the Southern presbyteries to report what action they had taken to put themselves in accord with the resolution of 1850;
- The separation of the southern part of the Associate Reformed Church from the northern in 1821, and the establishment of the Associate Reformed Synod of the South had not been due to slavery, but was for convenience in administration.