This Day (His Loss, Their Gain Edition)

In what his wife called “the severest struggle” of his life, and after two days of pacing, on this day in 1861, Robert E. Lee quit the army.
Exactly two years later, the black portion of the biracial congregation of Charlottesville‘s First Baptist Church established the Charlottesville African Church. At first, they stayed under the umbrella of the larger congregation. “They expressed their initial desire to separate from the white church so mildly and with such courtesy that, for a time, whites did not understand precisely what was happening,” the historian (and EV contributor) Charles F. Irons has written.
What was happening, though, was freedom. By June they had rejected the church’s choice for their pastor, and within a year or two they were completely independent. They built for themselves the First Colored Baptist Church, which still stands on West Main Street in Charlottesville.
IMAGE: First Colored Baptist Church. Circa 1883 (Flickr user ThoGarWe)


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