Saturday, August 23, 2008

Abraham Lincoln and the Brethren - part 2

Freeman Ankrum in his book Sidelights on Brethren History writes: "It is a well-known fact that Elder D.P. Sayler (see earlier posting) was a frequent visitor of the President (Lincoln) in the White House. He and Lincoln were rather intimately acquainted. Lincoln would call him "Bishop Sayler" and once told him that he considered him capable of filling any office to which he might be called.

"There is a story which says that Elder Sayler accompanied one of his friends who was to interview Lincoln concerning an appointment. When the business of the friend was attended to, Lincoln turned to Daniel P. Sayler and inquired: "And, Bishop, what do you want?" "Nothing," Sayler replied. "Then I commission you to preach the gospel," said the President.

"There were numerous conferences with Lincoln, some of which brought much criticism upon the head of Elder Sayler. It must be remembered that in those days the Brethren looked with disfavor upon voting. They were also nonresistant and in opposition to many of the war policies of the government. Sayler was an adviser to Lincoln regarding the planning for a place for the Brethren in the war. The famous military draft of August 1862 brought near-rebellion in some Northern cities. In connection with its formulation, Sayler had advised in the making of the provisions for the "peace" people. "

[This included a certificate recognizing the individual as a member of the German Baptist Church which teaches and practices nonviolence and exempts them from military duty.]

"When Sayler called at the White House and assured President Lincoln of the sympathy of the Brethren, he was taken severely to task by some of the members for presuming to speak for them."

Source: Sidelights on Brethren History, Freeman Ankrum