Saturday, January 31, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 1

John Haynie Reaches Corpus Christi Feb. 4, 1846

The Texas Conference met in Houston the first week of January, 1846 with Bishop Soule presiding. John Haynie (see post for Dec. 14, 2008) had taken a local relationship the year before, but the conference needed a missionary, and Haynie stepped forward to meet that need.

The missionary was needed because the annexation of the Republic of Texas to the United States had precipitated international tension. In June, 1845 President Polk had ordered General Zachary Taylor and his army to the shores of Corpus Christi Bay. Mexico claimed the Nueces to be the boundary, and the United States claimed the Rio Grande. By the fall of 1845 Taylor’s army had grown to several thousand troops plus assorted camp followers, teamsters, merchants, wives, and adventurers. Most of them lived in tents.

That encampment was Haynie’s mission field. About two weeks after his arrival he recounted his experiences to readers of the Nashville Advocate. He reported that Corpus Christi was “As it was when there was no king in Israel, every man walks in his own way.” He reported 50 groceries (bars), two theaters, and 500 gamblers. He secured the use of one of the theaters when it was not be used for other purposes.

Haynie’s mission to Corpus Christi was brief. When spring brought better weather and grazing for the animals, Taylor decamped and headed south. Elements of his army were engaged by Mexican forces, and Polk asked Congress for a declaration of war. Although most northerners (including Rep. Abraham Lincoln) saw the war as a land grab for the expansion of slavery, a joint session of Congress did grant the declaration in May 1846. Meanwhile delegates meeting at Petersburg, Va., held the first General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Haynie returned to his home at Rutersville.


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