1844: The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church split into two conferences because of tensions over slavery and the power of bishops in the denomination. The two General Conferences, the Methodist Episcopal Church (North) and Methodist Episcopal church, South remained separate until a merger in 1939 created the Methodist Church. The latter became the present United Methodist Church as a result of subsequent mergers. 6
Highlights of the abolition process from 1860 until now:
1860: Ministers and laity of the Methodist Episcopal Church's Genesee Conference in western New York state were expelled from the church for insubordination. They left to form the Free Methodist Church of North America. They split over a variety of factors, including theological disagreements, the perceived worldliness of the original church, and slavery. Their leader "...Roberts and most of his followers were radical abolitionists in the years immediately prior to the Civil War, at a time when many within the Methodist Episcopal church were hesitant in their condemnation of the practice of slavery." The denomination continues today in the U.S., Canada and in countries around the world. 1
1861: The Presbyterians had been able to remain united in spite of tensions created by the slavery issue. Shortly after the Civil War began, the Southern presbyteries of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America withdrew and organized the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States (later renamed the Presbyterian Church in the United States). The split was healed in 1983 with the unification of these two bodies and the creation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
1861-1865: The Civil War (a.k.a. the war between the states) was fought, resulting in the greatest loss of life of any American war.
1862-DEC-31: President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on JAN-1. This is believed by many to have freed the slaves. Actually, it did not free a single slave. People in the Northern states who had been slaves had already been freed. Slaves in the South were within the Confederacy, and thus immune to Union proclamations. Still, it was of enormous symbolic significance