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EDITOR:
Steve Van Nattan

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PETER CARTWRIGHT

Part One




Rough
and Ready
Circuit Riding Preacher

Courtesy of Dr. Peter S. Ruckman,
The New Testament Church
,  Vol II, pp. 64-65



The most publicized of the frontier preachers was Peter Cartwright, a short, "thickset man" with a fine head and black beady eyes.  He said of his own preaching, around Logan County, Kentucky:  "We murdered the King's English at almost every lick, but there was a Divine unction."

This compares well to Billy Sunday of seventy years later, who said, "A preacher complaining about my language asked me, 'Why don't you preach like I do?'  I told him if I did I wouldn't be any better than he was."  

Much literature is available concerning Peter Cartwright, and his encounter with General Andrew Jackson is almost canonical.  Elmer Towns has watered down the "original" somewhat which, according to some sources, came out as, "If he (General Andrew Jackson) don't repent, he'll go to hell like any guinea-stealing nigger."

Sometimes the refined sensibilities of the "educated class" are a hindrance to finding the truth, especially where the educators have been spending their time with the news media instead of the facts of history.

When Peter Cartwright was put on the spot at a conference of Methodist Bishops, one bishop addressed him in Greek-- hoping to make a fool out of him.  Peter answered the bishop in German, which his mother had taught him as a boy. Since the bishop didn't know any German, he had to save face quickly, so he backed out by nodding his head vigorously and saying to those nearby, "He knows it!  He knows it!"

Cartwright was reputed to have knocked sinners down for less than that.  On several occasions he was observed straddling a "prospect" and threatening him with a fist as big as a Virginia ham and yelling, "Don't you feel the Spirit of the Lord striving with you, brother?"


 

Editor:  Blessed Quietness Journal:  If Peter Cartwright had been elected to Congress in 1846, instead of Abraham Lincoln, we might have had no civil war, and the Bible would have defeated and restored the South.  Instead, Lincoln, who dabbled in the occult, voided the US Constitution after the Civil War by sending five Generals, ON ACTIVE DUTY, to govern the South.  This precedent has haunted us ever since, and it is the foundation on which Clinton's and Janet Reno's Feds fire bombed the innocents in Waco and massacred Randy Weaver's family.  

Lincoln's actions also used to justify the gunning down the students at Kent State U. of Ohio in the 70s. In recent years Lincoln's rationale will again be used to turn the US Military against the whole US population.

The Whisky Keg

From the Autobiography of Peter Cartwright the Backwoods Preacher, pp. 270-272

...At one of these camp meetings the wicked young men, who were chiefly children of the religious people, or professors in other Churches, brought their whisky and hid it in the woods, where they would collect together and drink, and then come and disturb the worshipping congregation.  I closely watched them, and after they had gone out to their whisky and drank freely, and returned to interrupt us, I captured their keg of whisky, and brought it in and placed it under guard.

After a while they missed it, and there was great confusion among them. They finally suspected me, and sent me word, if I would give up their whisky they would behave themselves or go away. I sent them word, that I never hired people to behave, and if they did not behave I would make them. They then sent me word, if I did not give up their whisky they would stone the preachers' tent that night, and one of them had the impudence to tell me so. I utterly refused to give up the whisky, and told him to stone away, that I would be ready for them.

There was, close by the camp-ground, a beautiful running stream, with a gravelly bottom, and many little rocks or pebbles. After dark a while, the camp-ground was brilliantly lighted up; I went and borrowed some old clothes, and dressed myself in disguise, and obtained an old straw hat. Thus attired, I sallied out, and presently, unperceived, I mixed among these rowdies, and soon got all their plans; they were to wait till the congregation was dismissed, the light put out, and the people retired to rest; and then they were to march up and stone the preachers' tent, and if I made my appearance to annoy them in any way, they were to give me a shower of stones. I mixed freely among them, and do not supposed any one even suspected me at all.

Meeting closed, the lights were blown out, and the people mostly retired to rest; in the mean time I had slipped down to the brook, and filled the pockets of the old overcoat that I had borrowed, with little stones; and as I came up to them, they were just ready to commence operations on the preachers' tent; but before they had thrown a single stone, I gathered from my pockets my hands full of stones, and flung them thick and fast right in among them, crying out at the top of my voice, "Here they are! here they are! take them! take them!" They broke at full speed, and such a running I hardly ever witnessed. I took after them, hollering, every jump, "Take them! take them!" Thus ended the farce. We had no more interruption, and our camp meeting went of gloriously, and we had many conversions clear and powerful.

 

Experiences With General Andrew Jackson

The Tennessee Methodist conference of 1818 was held in Nashville.  Peter Cartwright and his friend Brother Axley were not very old, but were considered old-fashioned by the popularity-seeking preacher in charge of the meetings.  This preacher was afraid to give either of them a speaking appointment during the meetings for fear they would storm the strong-holds of slavery, frivolous dress, or dram-drinking.  He was finally prevailed upon by others who felt that he was slighting these two men.

After Bro. Axley made quite a stir at an early Sunday morning service preaching against the worldliness, pastors of various other churches opened their pulpits to the two men.  One Dr. Blackbourn of a Presbyterian church was among them.

The presiding preacher appointed Cartwright to preach there on a  Monday night, but tried to insist that he not preach against Calvinism.  Cartwright told him he would expose the errors of Calvinism and wouldn't be intimidated out of it, so the preacher changed his appointment to the Methodist church instead admonishing him to try to behave himself.

Peter Cartwright tells us about it:

The preacher's conduct toward me was spread abroad, and excited considerable curiosity.  Monday evening came; the church was filled to overflowing; every seat was crowded, and many had to stand.  After singing and prayer, brother Mac took his seat in the pulpit.  I then read my text: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"  After reading my text I paused.  At that moment I saw General Jackson walking up the aisle; he came to the middle post, and very gracefully leaned against it, and stood, as there were no vacant seats.  Just then I felt someone pull my coat in the stand, and turning my head, my fastidious preacher whispering a little loud, said:  "General Jackson has come in; General Jackson has come in."  I felt a flash of indignation run all over me like an electric shock, and facing about to my congregation, and purposely speaking out audibly, I said, "Who is General Jackson?  If he don't get his soul converted, God will damn him as quick as he would a guinea stealing negro!"

The preacher tucked his head down, and squatted low, and would, no doubt, have been thankful for leave of absence.  The congregation, General Jackson and all smiled or laughed right out, all at the preacher's expense.  When the congregation was dismissed, my city-stationed preacher stepped up to me, and very sternly said to me: "You are the strangest man I ever saw, and General Jackson will chastise you for your insolence before you leave the city."  "Very clear of it," said I, "for General Jackson, I have no doubt, will applaud my course; and if he should undertake to chastise me, as Paddy said, 'There is two as can play at that game.' "

General Jackson was staying at one of the Nashville hotels.  Next morning, very early, my city preacher went down to the hotel to make an apology to General Jackson for my conduct in the pulpit the night before.  Shortly after he had left I passed by the hotel, and I met the General on the pavement; and before I approached him by several steps he smiled and reached out his hand and said:

"Mr. Cartwright, you are a man after my own heart.  I am very much surprised at Mr. Mac, to think he would suppose that I would be offended at you.  No, sir; I told him that I highly approved of your independence; that a minister of  Jesus Christ ought to love every body and fear no mortal man.  I told Mr. Mac that if I had a few thousand such independent, fearless officers as you were, and a well-drilled army, I could take old England."

General Jackson was certainly a very extraordinary man.  He was, no doubt, in his prime of life, a very wicked man, but he always showed a great respect for the Christian religion, and the feelings of religious people, especially ministers of the Gospel.  I will here relate a little incident that shows his respect for religion.

I had preached one Sabbath near the Hermitage, and, in company with several gentlemen and ladies, went, by special invitation, to dine with the General.  Among this company here was a young sprig of a lawyer from Nashville, of very ordinary intellect, and he was trying hard to make an infidel of himself. As I was the only preacher present, this young lawyer kept pushing his conversation on me, in order to get into an argument.  I tried to evade an argument, in the first place considering it a breach of good manners to interrupt the social conversation of the company. In the second place I plainly saw that his head was much softer than his heart, and that there were no laurels to be won by vanquishing or demolishing such a combatant, and I persisted in evading an argument. This seemed to inspire the young man with more confidence in himself; for my evasiveness he construed into fear. I saw General Jackson's eye strike fire, as he sat by and heard the thrusts he made at Christian religion. At length the young lawyer asked me this question:

"Mr. Cartwright, do you really believe there is any such place as hell, as a place of torment?"
I answered promptly, "Yes, I do."
To which he responded, "Well, I thank God I have too much sense to believe any such thing."

I was pondering in my own mind whether I would answer him or not, when General Jackson for the first time broke into the conversation, and directing his words to the young man, said with great earnestness:

"Well, sir, I thank God that there is such a place of torment as hell."
This sudden answer made with great earnestness seemed to astonish the youngster, and he exclaimed:
"Why, General Jackson, what do you want with such a place of torment as hell?"

To which the General replied, as quick as lightning, "To put such d-----d rascals as you are in, that oppose and vilify the Christian religion."

I tell you his was a poser.  The young lawyer was struck dumb, and presently was found missing.

From the Autobiography of Peter Cartwright the Backwoods Preacher, pp. 192-194

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.




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