James Osgood Andrew

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James Osgood Andrew

James Osgood Andrew (May 3, 1794 – March 2, 1871) was an American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, elected in 1832. He was born in the township of Washington in Wilkes County, Georgia, a son of the Rev. John and Mary Cosby Andrew. Rev. John Andrew was the first native Georgian to enter the Methodist ministry.

Ordained ministry[edit]

James Andrew was Licensed to Preach in 1812 in Eliam Methodist Episcopal Church in the South Carolina Annual Conference of the M.E. Church. The first twenty years of his ministry included appointments to the Salt Ketcher Circuit in South Carolina, the Bladen Circuit in North Carolina, and the Augusta and Savannah Circuits in Georgia. In 1824 he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Edisto District, which included Charleston, South Carolina. He was elected a Delegate to quadrennial M.E. General Conferences from 1820 through 1832.

Episcopal ministry[edit]

Andrew was elected as a Bishop by the 1832 General Conference. He then moved from Augusta to Newton County, Georgia to be near the Methodist Manual Labor School, of which he was a Trustee. This institution later became Emory College at Oxford, Georgia. His Episcopal assignments also took him to Annual Conferences throughout the south and the west.

Controversy over slave ownership[edit]

Bishop Andrew's possession of slaves generated controversy within the M.E. Church, leading to the separation of the denomination in 1844 into northern and southern branches. He became the symbol of the slavery issue for the M.E. Church. However, the details surrounding his ownership of slaves, and in particular how he acquired them, is open to some debate.

According to most published accounts, Andrew never bought or sold a slave. Rather, he became a slave owner through his wives. In 1816 Andrew married Ann Amelia MacFarlane, with whom he had six children. Upon her death in 1842, she bequeathed him a slave. Andrew's second wife, Leonora Greenwood, whom he married in 1844, was also a slave owner. When she died in 1854, he married Emily Sims Childers.

Evidence also exists, however, to suggest Andrew may have first acquired slaves earlier than 1842. A man named James Osgood Andrew is listed as a resident of Athens, Georgia in the 1830 U.S. Census. This Andrew is listed as the owner of two slaves, though he may not be the Bishop. The 1840 Census lists Bishop Andrew as a resident of Newton County, and the owner of thirteen slaves.

In addition, a grave marker placed in Oxford City Cemetery, placed in 1938 by H.Y. McCord tells a different tale. (This grave marker is known by the locals as "Kitty's Stone.") McCord claims that Kitty was a slave girl bequeathed to Bishop Andrew when Kitty was 12 years old by a Mrs. Powers of Augusta Georgia, with the stipulation that at 19 years of age, she was to be given her freedom and sent to Liberia. When she reached the age of 19, Bishop Andrews had Dr. A. B. Longstreet, who was then President of Emory College and Professor George W. Lane interview Kitty. Kitty declined to go to Liberia, saying that she preferred to remain with the Andrews. Under the laws of Georgia at that time, Bishop Andrew could not free Kitty unless she would agree to leave the state, so he built for her a cottage in his back yard and told her “You are as free as I am.” Kitty lived in that cottage – a free woman – until she married a man named Nathan Shell, and went to her own home.

Andrew's ownership of slaves, by whatever means acquired, was considered contrary to M.E. custom (especially by those in the North). Indeed, a growing abolitionist movement was evident within Methodism. The real issue in 1844 was whether or not the M.E. Church would accept or disapprove of slavery. Northern delegates to the 1844 General Conference sponsored a resolution asking Bishop Andrew to "desist" from exercising the Episcopal office so long as he owned slaves. Southern delegates countered that the Church would be destroyed in States which prohibited emancipation. Nevertheless, the resolution passed by a vote of 110 to 69. A Plan of Separation between northern and southern Methodists resulted. The next year representatives of the Southern Annual Conferences met in Louisville, Kentucky to organize their own denomination. The first General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South met in Petersburg, Virginia in 1846, and Andrew was invited to preside.

Later years[edit]

Bishop Andrew presided as the Senior Bishop of his denomination from 1846 until his death. He led the Southern ministers of the church in dividing from the main church over the issue of slavery in 1848, and became the first bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. During the American Civil War (1861–65), he resided in Summerfield, Alabama. After his retirement in 1866, he continued to conduct church conferences as his health permitted. He died in 1871 at the home of a daughter and son-in-law, the Rev. and Mrs. J.W. Rush, in Mobile, Alabama. He was buried in Oxford. Andrew College in Cuthbert, Georgia is named for him.

Selected writings[edit]

  • Family Government, 1846.
  • Miscellanies, 1854.
  • He also contributed to religious periodicals.


  • Smith, George G., The Life and Letters of James Osgood Andrew, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Nashville, Southern Methodist Publishing House, 1882.

See also[edit]


  • Mills, Frederick V., Sr., Article on "James Osgood Andrew" at The New Georgia Encyclopedia. [1]
  • Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1967.

External links[edit]