Church and State – The Secretaries of War and Navy, Chaplains, &c.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 3:26 (Feb. 11, 1832): 2. The author observes, “I conceive that congress has no more right to coerce a soldier or sailor to religious acts than any other citizen; and on board of vessels and in garrisons where there are chaplains, they are compelled to attend them unless excused by sickness, &c. What right has congress to take any religion by the hand, clothe her in fine linen, and feed her sumptuously every day, fill her pockets with silver and gold, seat her in a pulpit, and command the worship of their fellow citizens- when the nation has solemnly sworn they will not have her to reign over them?”

“Report of the Select Committee of the Several Memorials Against Appointing Chaplains to the Legislature, Submitted to the Assembly of New York, April 16, 1832.” The Free Enquirer, 4:30-31 (May 19-26, 1832): 234-36, 244-45. Report pledges to show “that the legislature possess no legitimate authority to associate religious prayers with legislative proceedings, nor to appoint legislative chaplains, nor to appropriate the public money to pay for any religious service.”[1]

“Chaplains to the Legislature.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 4:14 (Nov. 17, 1832): 1. This article features a memorial addressed to the legislature of New York which states in part that “when the political delegates of the people, who are empowered only to manage the concerns of civil government, convert the halls of political legislation into religious session rooms, and transform the legislative assemblies of the political representatives of the people into religious prayer meetings; such an incongruous intermingling of politics and religion, such an intimate association of official legislative duties, with religious forms and ceremonies, not only transcends their legitimate authority, but is an actual “union of Church and State.”

“Chaplains to the New York Legislature.” The Boston Investigator, 89 (Dec. 7, 1832): 1-2. Reprinted from the N.Y. Daily Sentinel. Addressing the New York legislature on the practice of appointing priests to the office of legislative chaplain, the memorialists allege, “that the frequent repetition of legislative acts and practices unauthorized by the Constitution or repugnant to its spirit or express provisions, is no sufficient reason for their further continuance- no proof of their compatibility with the unalienable rights of conscience- nor evidence of their harmless influence on the religious liberties of the people; nor can the plea of custom excuse or justify them.”

“Chaplains to the Legislature.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 4:17 (Dec. 8, 1832): 3. This article features a memorial from citizens of Madison County New York to the State’s legislature calling for the abolition of the practice of appointing chaplains to the legislature.

“Legislative Chaplains.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 4:22 (Jan. 12, 1833): 1. This is a transcript of the New York assembly’s proceedings on January 2-3 discussing a resolution to invite members of the clergy to officiate at the opening of the House each day of business.

“Legislative Chaplains.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 4:26 (Feb. 9, 1833): 4. Mr. Herttell’s and Myers’ remarks on a proposal to repeal a law that provides for the payment of chaplains with public money. Herttell declares that “the legislature have no right officially to legislate on religion, nor to put their fingers into the public treasury and abstract money therefrom to pay their clergymen for the performance of any religious worship or ceremony at any time or place.” Myers added, “If the clergy wish to pray for us let them retire to their closets and shut the door, and therefore offer up their fervent prayers to the omnipotent and universal God, invoking his blessings, and that he will bestow a share of his divine wisdom on the legislature, that no laws may pass excepting such as are for the public good.”[2]

A letter from “Carlos” which begins, “The minority of the present Legislature of the State, are richly deserving the gratitude of their constituents, for the manly stand which they took against paying the people’s money, for the prayers of the Albany Clergy. If our representatives wish to make a display of religion; or “acknowledge their dependence on a divine being” in making laws; let them pay the fiddler with their own money.” Liberal Advocate, 3:2:5 (Feb. 23, 1833): 25.

“Legislative Chaplains.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 4:37 (Apr. 27, 1833): 1. This article reports that the New York legislature repealed a law that authorized payment to Chaplains, but that while the assembly discontinued employing chaplains, the senate continues to employee them. Excerpts from the debate with editorial comments are included.

“A Defender of Legislative Chaplains.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 4:37 (Apr. 27, 1833): 2. The editor reprints a letter from the editors of the Elmira Republican and makes clear that the Advocate would oppose the employment of chaplains whether paid by the public, the private funds of the members of the legislature, or not at all.

J.C. Bennett. “Chaplains to Congress.” Mohawk Liberal, 1:3 (June 14, 1833): 3. Reprinted from the New Albany Gazette, Bennett expresses opposition to the use of public funds to support chaplains, but contends that congressmen have a right to use their own funds to employ chaplains. In reply, the editor of the Working Man’s Advocate argues that congressmen “have no more right to appropriate the people’s time than their money for their own private uses. Congressmen ought to attend to their devotions before business hours, or else they ought to be “docked a quarter.””

“Legislative Chaplains.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 4:45 (June 22, 1833): 2-3. The editor remarks, “We have great pleasure in stating that the Legislature in New Hampshire . . . . have concluded to transact the people’s business without charging them with their parsons’ bills, as had been the practice of former Legislatures. Thus we see state after state experiencing the march of reform, which we trust will not be arrested till church and state be entirely separated, and every citizen in possession of his political rights.” The article includes excerpts from the House of Representatives’ debate.

Thomas Herttell. Letter to “Mr. Ransom Cook and Fifty-Five other Inhabitants of the Village of Saratoga Springs.” The Boston Investigator, 131 (Sept. 27, 1833): 1. Herttell provides a detailed account of the proceedings in the New York legislature regarding the “Chaplain Law.”

Thomas Herttell. “[Appointment of] Chaplains.” The Boston Investigator, 134-135 (Oct. 18-25, 1833). Remarks of Herttell to the New York Assembly, January 3, 1832. Herttell presents passages from numerous petitions submitted to the New York legislature since 1831 opposing the appointment of chaplains, and ably demolishes the argument which states that because the legislature has become accustomed to appointing chaplains it is constitutionally permissible to do so.

Reprint of a Remonstrance presented by Mr. Lyon of Kentucky against the appointment of Chaplains to Congress. Mohawk Liberal, 1:36 (Jan. 30, 1834): 2. The remonstrance argues that “hiring preachers officially, and paying them out of the people’s money, are acts of supererogation, unauthorized by the constitution, and transcending the powers delegated to the National Legislature.”

State Priest.” Ohio Watchman, 1:3 (Mar. 28, 1835): 1. This editorial opposes the legislative appointment of a chaplain to preach in the prisons.

M.R. “State Prayers.” Ohio Watchman, 1:3 (Mar. 28, 1835): 3. Reprinted from the Reformer, this is a short opinion piece opposing the use of public funds to pay for prayers in the U.S. Congress.

G.V. “Judge Herttell and Prayers in the Assembly.” The Beacon (New Series), 1:12 (Feb. 8, 1840): 94-95. Vale provides a summary of Herttell’s argument against legislative prayer delivered before the New York Assembly in opposition to a resolution to invite the clergy to pray.

Thomas Herttell. “A Reminiscence- A Negro Chaplain.” The Boston Investigator, 768 (Feb. 11, 1846): 2. Herttell retells the story of how and why, for a series of years, the New York legislature “had a Negro Priest or Black Divine in pay, as a Chaplain to that Honorable body- not for praying for the members, but for not performing such divine service for them.”

“Legislative Chaplains.” The Boston Investigator, 864 (Dec. 15, 1847): 4. Reprinted from the Express (Madison, Wisconsin). Speaking before the Wisconsin House of Representatives on the subject of appointing chaplains, Mr. Burt states, “to hear an honorable member of this legislative body at this enlightened day and age speak of the necessity of employing a man to pray to an immutable being to change the general laws of nature or his providence, I am astonished. . . . If the clergy can change immutability, or make infinity more infinite, or omnipresent more so, or make infinite goodness more kind, or avert the judgment of immaculate justice, they can do it in the midst of their societies and at home, and without the money which belongs to the people of the Territory at large. “

“The National Chaplaincy.” The Regenerator, 137 (Feb. 1850): 136-37. Features a petition calling for the abolition of the national chaplaincy, which first appeared in the Banner of Liberty and The Beacon. The petition argues that the national chaplaincy system violates the 1st amendment, the tenth amendment, and article 6, section 3 of the United States Constitution.

“Legislative Religion.” The Boston Investigator, 1190 (Mar. 15, 1854): 2. The editor argues that “legislatures possess no legitimate authority to associate religious prayers with legislative proceedings, nor to appoint legislative chaplains, nor to appropriate the public money to pay for any religious service; because, 1st, no such authority has been delegated to them; and 2d, because the exercise of such power is not only repugnant to the Constitution, but expressly interdicted by it.”

“Chaplains to the American Congress.” The Boston Investigator, 1245 (Apr. 4, 1855): 4. Reprinted from the New York Sunday Atlas. The author exclaims, “We believe that the only consideration that induces the two Houses of Congress to elect chaplains is the fear that their constituents will think them wanting in respect for religion. We will frankly tell such members that they would better manifest their respect for religion by not having, than by having chaplains. If we were Infidels, and desired to bring religion into disrepute, we would be in favor of electing chaplains to Congress.”

“Congressional Chaplains.” The Boston Investigator, 1387 (Dec. 23, 1857): 2. The editor reports “that there are no less than fifty-eight Chaplains in the service of the United States, maintained at an annual expense of $100,000” and yet only one congressman, “at the choice of a Chaplain in the present House of Representatives . . . . spoke against the practice as unconstitutional.”

“Chaplains.” The Boston Investigator, 1442 (Jan. 12, 1859): 2. The editor reports that memorials from nearly every state have been sent to Congress calling for the abolition of the office of Chaplain.

“The Chaplain Question.” The Boston Investigator, 1443 (Jan. 19, 1859): 4. Here featured, is a memorial, presented to the U.S. House of Representatives, calling for the “immediate abolition of the office of Chaplain in Congress, in the army and navy, and elsewhere.” The memorial contends that the appointment of Chaplains violates both the first and tenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

“The Chaplain Question.” The Boston Investigator, 1498 (Feb. 8, 1860): 331. A discussion in the assembly of the Wisconsin legislature; reprinted from the Wisconsin State Journal.

A Soldier. “God in our Army.” The Boston Investigator, 1580 (Sept. 4, 1861): 157. Beginning with an excerpt from a New York weekly that “no army was ever set on foot so thoroughly imbued with enlightened religious sentiment,” the solider rebuts “The soldiers don’t want religious ceremonies, tracts, and sermons. They are forced upon them – and so are chaplains, who are considered no better than bores. . . . a newspaper is more prized in camp than any quantity of pious books, and I can also safely add that a jolly companion is far more acceptable than any number of chaplains.”

“”Because of the Loaves!” The Army of Chaplains.” The Boston Investigator, 1594 (Dec. 11, 1861): 244. The editor remarks, “Very likely if the Spiritualists, Infidels, or Abolitionists, should clamor at the Government for offices and salaries for their several lecturers, they would only get laughed at for their pains. Yet this demand, on their part, as improper as it would be, is just as reasonable, legitimate, and constitutional, as the appointing and paying of chaplains by the Government. The whole thing is wrong, and a species of fraud on the people which they would not endure another hour if they knew their rights and were determined to maintain them.”

Chaplains in the Army.” The Boston Investigator, 1604 (Feb. 19, 1862): 322. Features a poem entitled “Lines to the Chaplain of our Regiment” from a soldier in Camp Griffin, Virginia.

Lott S, Bayless. “A Letter from Indiana.” The Boston Investigator, 1616 (May 28, 1862): 26-7. Bayless, a subscriber to the Investigator for over thirty years, recounts the battle of Fort Donelson, reports that he has visited more than a 100 regiments and notes “I found almost a general complaint with both officers and men that their chaplain was a great nuisance; and yet our Government will continue to violate the Constitution by employing chaplains to make the world believe that we are not an Infidel Government! What cowards men are to fear such a shadow as religion!”

L.R.S. “The Chaplain Nuisance.” The Boston Investigator, 1622 (July 9, 1862): 74. The article includes an excerpt from a letter by John Hardy, hospital steward in the 29th Mass., regiment, which states “Chaplains are the greatest nuisance in the army. We have a very good man, Brother H., but nobody in the regiment, save some ten or a dozen, cares for him as a religious man. When he holds a meeting it is attended only by a few. He has only preached some five or six times since he has been here. He makes himself handy as a postmaster- that is about all a chaplain is good for here.”

“Chaplain in the Army.” The Boston Investigator, 1635 (Oct. 8, 1862): 180. The editor condemns the practice of appointing chaplains and paying them as much as $146 per month when privates are only paid $13 per month and recommends that President Lincoln issue a “proclamation” on the constitutionality of the Chaplain question.

“A Letter from the Army.” The Boston Investigator, 1680 (Aug. 26, 1863): 124. The author, a soldier in the 29th Massachusetts Volunteers, 9th Army Corps, reports obtaining a copy of the Investigator from an army chaplain and on the near universal perception among soldiers of army chaplains being nothing more than “leech[es] upon the pocket of the Government.”


[1] Also published in “Chaplains to the Legislature, &c.” The Working Man’s Advocate, 3:41 (May 26, 1832): 4, and “Report of the Select Committee in the New York Assembly, on the Several Memorials Against Appointing Chaplains to the Legislature.” The Boston Investigator, 59-60 (May 11, 1832).

[2] Mr Herttell’s remarks were also published in “Chaplains. Remarks of Mr. Herttell.” The Free Enquirer, 5:15 (Feb. 2, 1833): 116-17.