Henry Bidleman Bascom
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Henry Bidleman Bascom (1796–1850) was an American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, elected in 1850. He also distinguished himself as a circuit rider, pastor and Christian preacher; as chaplain to the U.S. House of Representatives; and as an editor, a college academic, and a denominational leader.
Early life and education
Of French Huguenot and Basque ancestry, Henry Bidleman Bascom was born 27 May 1796 in Hancock, Delaware County, New York. He was a descendant of Thomas Bascom, who came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634 and who later founded Windsor, Connecticut. The name Bidleman came from the family of Henry's maternal grandmother, Rosanna Bidleman.
Marriage and family
At a time of expansion of the Methodist Church on the frontier during the Second Great Awakening, new men were accepted into preaching. Although with little formal education, Bascom was found to be a good speaker with knowledge of the Bible; he was licensed to preach in 1813 at the age of seventeen and was received on trial by the Ohio Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. Bascom worked hard as a frontier circuit rider, traveling to scattered settlements across a wide territory. For example, one year he preached 400 times, receiving a salary of $12.10. He soon became noted as a pulpit orator.
Bascom as pulpit orator
- "At one point, he was perhaps the most popular pulpit orator in the United States. His sermons, though long, did not weary the people. They were evidently prepared with great care. As is often the case, in reading his sermons we miss the brilliancy and vivacity of the living speaker. He was a man of remarkably fine personal appearance, and had a voice of great compass and power."
In 1823 the Congressman Henry Clay from Kentucky, then Speaker of the House, obtained for Bascom the appointment of Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served 1824–26. At one time Bascom visited Baltimore, where his fervid oratory made a great sensation. He was known as a powerful speaker, fond of strong epithets and extravagant metaphors.
Academic and editorial ministry
Rev. Bascom was selected as the first president of Madison College, Uniontown, Pennsylvania (1827–29). He became an agent of the American Colonization Society (1829–31), working to help resettle American free blacks in Liberia, Africa.
Rev. Bascom was selected as president of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky (1842–49; he had declined two other offers). A portrait of Rev. Bascom, painted circa 1826 by John Neagle, hangs in the (now University's) Board Room.
Rev. Bascom played an important role at the M.E. General Conference of 1844, when the denomination divided over the question of slavery. The Church suspended Bishop James Osgood Andrew because he refused to manumit his slaves.
Dr. Bascom wrote the "protest of the minority" of the Southern members against this action by the majority, which became known as the denomination split. He was a member of the convention held the next year at Louisville, at which the M.E. Church, South, was organized. Bascom wrote its report.
Bascom was selected as chairman of the commission appointed to settle the differences between the two branches of the Church, but it did not reunite until after the end of the American Civil War. He published a book in defense of the Southern church, entitled Methodism and Slavery; with Other Matters in Controversy between the North and the South; Being a Review of the Manifesto of the Majority, in Reply to the Protest of the Minority, of the Late General Conference of the Methodist E. Church, in the Case of Bishop Andrew (1845; available free on line at Google Books).
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Death and burial
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Bishop Bascom died 8 September 1850 in Louisville, Kentucky. His remains were interred in Louisville's Eastern Cemetery. Photos of the grave stone can be seen on Find a Grave: Henry Bidleman Bascom
- Methodism and Slavery(1845), free e-text available
- Sermons from the Pulpit
- Lectures on Infidelity
- Lectures on Moral and Mental Science
- His collected works (4 volumes) were edited by Rev. T.N. Ralston and printed at Nashville (1850 and 1856).
- Henkle, M.M., Life of Bishop Bascom, Nashville, 1854.
- "History of the Chaplaincy, Office of the Chaplain". Retrieved 2008-09-14.
- Transylvania University Library <--Broken link, February 2016.
- Cyclopaedia of Methodism, Matthew Simpson, D.D., LL.D., Ed., (Revised Edition.) Philadelphia, Louis H. Everts, 1880.
- "Henry Bidleman Bascom", The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia © 1994, 2000–2005, on Infoplease.
- "Bascom, Henry Bidleman", in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, ed., Samuel Macauley Jackson, D.D., LL.D.,Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1954
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1891). "article name needed". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
John Brackenridge, D.D.
|Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives
December 1, 1823 – December 6, 1824