A history of Baptist educational efforts in Texas, 1829-1900



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One of the greatest problems of the South today is that of illiteracy. The Reverend A. R. Bond of Birmingham, Alabama, in his "Southern Baptists and Illiteracy," which was published in 1928 by the Southern Baptist Convention, states that "Southern white illiteracy belongs to Southern Baptists as to no other denomination." He reached this conclusion through a survey of eleven Southern states, which disclosed that while these states had only 18.2 per cent of the native white population of the United States, they had 55.7 per cent of the native white illiteracy of the nation, making it five times as great as the percentage for native whites in the non-Southern section of the nation. He also found that not one of the Southern states had a percentage of illiteracy as low as the general average for the non-Southern section of the nation, the percentage for the South being 6.1 against 2.0 for the non-Southern section. Baptists have a plurality of membership in more than half the counties of the Southern states; and they also have more illiterate counties than all other denominations combined, an illiterate county being one in which the percentage of illiteracy is higher than for the state in which the county is located. He also found that Baptists have a majority of the church membership in more than one-fourth of the counties and that the counties of Baptist majority have a higher percentage of illiteracy than the average percentage of illiteracy of all the native white population of the South, the figures being 7.2 for the former and 6.1 for the latter. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the activities of the Baptists in the educational development of Texas. If it can be shown that they have contributed to the spiritual and material welfare of the state, this fact should be acknowledged, and all disparaging talk, such as is often heard from leaders of secularized institutions, should be discontinued. If it can be shown that they have impeded the development of the culture of the state, or that they have failed to contribute to its progress in a degree commensurate with their opportunities and resources, it is well that Baptists should face the facts. The forthcoming celebration of the centennial of Texas' independence is an ideal time to present an inventory of the institutions of the state with reference to their contributions to its prosperity. The task of writing a history of the educational efforts of the Baptists of Texas is not without difficulties. There has been much carelessness in preserving records, and many of the most important documents have been allowed to be destroyed. Minutes of the early meetings of the associations were never published, and many have subsequently been lost. The procedure followed in this study, however, was the investigation of the documentary sources. All available records of the associations, conventions and institutions have been examined; press accounts of the various activities of the institutions that afforded excellent materials were consulted; and the private papers of the early leaders of the denomination were carefully examined