Post Revolutionary War Rebuilding to Reorganization

1783 Jeremiah Leming and Samuel Seabury elected bishop in Connecticut. Leming considered too frail to travel to England.
1784 The northern churches conduct meetings to plan reorganization of the church. Later that year, the Methodists left the Anglican Church.
1785 The first General Convention, at Christ Church, Philadelphia. There was no bishop. Georgia was not represented since there was no organized diocese.
1786 The proposed Book of Common Prayer. A second General Convention, without representation from Georgia, at which essentially nothing was done.
1789 A third General Convention, without representation from Georgia. Bishops White and Seabury were in attendance. Authorization of a Book of Common Prayer, and a Hymnal.
1798 On July 4th, William J. Hobby, Esq., delivers an oration at Saint Paul’s on the 22nd anniversary of American independence.
1802 Ordination of Absalom Jones, the first black priest in the Episcopal Church, by Bp. William White.
1814 Beginning of the Sunday School Movement in the Episcopal Church.
1817 General Convention approves founding of General Seminary in New York City.
1821 Founding of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA.


At the end of the war, the Church of England was no longer established. As was the case with Saint Paul’s, the parishes lost their “glebe”, the land given to them by the colonial government. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) departed, and many clergy returned home to England or moved to Canada. There were no bishops, thus no confirmations or ordinations. Some felt that the Church should cease to exist in the new United States.


There were three factions, New England, the middle colonies, and the southern colonies. The New England churches, were led by Samuel Seabury, who had been an SPG missionary. A High Churchman, he favored the consecration of bishops as soon as possible. Churches of the middle colonies felt that church organization was a higher priority. William White of Philadelphia, a Low Churchman, favored ordination of priests without bishops. Churches in the South had been controlled by their vestries, were not particularly interested in founding an American episcopate, and insisted that the laity participate in the organization of the national church. Seabury was not in favor of this idea.


Connecticut elected Seabury as bishop in 1783. He traveled to England, but was denied ordination and consecration. He went to Aberdeen, Scotland, where in 1784 he was ordained by Scottish nonjuror bishops, a group in schism with the Church of England. In 1785, he presided at a convention of the Church of Connecticut and ordained 4 people to the deaconate.


In the middle colonies, William White of Philadelphia had been a patriot in the Revolutionary War, and was of the “low church” tradition. The 1789 constitution of the Episcopal Church was based on ideas in his treatise of 1782. White was later consecrated bishop, along with Provoost of New York and Griffith of Virginia. By this time, Parliament had passed legislation authorizing the Church of England to consecrate bishops for America. Provoost challenged the legality of Seabury’s ordination by “schismatic” bishops.


The 1789 General Convention at Christ Church, Philadelphia, adopted a constitution and canons, and authorized an American Book of Common Prayer. The first session had a single House of Delegates, and White presided. Seabury did not attend because of his objections about the presence of the laity. For the second session, which he attended, there was a separate House of Bishops.

1783 The Trustees of the Academy of Richmond County are incorporated by the legislature of the State of Georgia. They are given broad powers in Augusta, including subdividing and selling lots from the commons, building a school and a church, hiring teachers for the school.
1785 What is left of the members of Saint Paul’s Parish Church begins to hold services, led by a Lay Reader, in one of the rooms in the Academy building on Bay Street.
1786 Augusta becomes the temporary capital of the State of Georgia while the site of Louisville is being laid out and developed as the permanent capital. Saint Paul’s Church is used from time to time for public meetings including an observance by the legislature of Thanksgiving in 1789. The capital moves to Louisville in 1795.
1786 Trustees of the Academy contract to have a new church constructed on the site of the former church, which had been destroyed in 1781 by the British or loyalist allies. After many delays, the church was finally completed in 1789 by William Mead.
1786 The Reverend Adam Boyd (Armentrout: a patriot in the Revolutionary War) comes to Augusta from Wilmington, North Carolina to officiate for the parish. Formerly a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army, and probably a Presbyterian licentiate, Boyd had been recently affiliated with Saint James Episcopal Church in Wilmington. Boyd was a newspaper editor, publishing the Cape Fear Mercury before moving to Georgia.
1787 Springfield Baptist Church is believed to have been established in this year by a group of free blacks that moved from Silver Bluff in South Carolina.
1788 The Parish of Saint Paul’s in Georgia sponsors the Reverend Adam Boyd, who seeks Holy Orders from the Right Reverend Samuel Seabury, Bishop of Connecticut and the first Episcopal Bishop in the United States. Boyd returns to Augusta to officiate at Saint Paul’s in 1789.
1789 A Reverend Elihu Palmer requests permission to teach religious classes in Saint Paul’s Church. He is a teacher at Richmond Academy. (Charles C. Jones, Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia,) writes that in 1789 the Rev. Mr. Palmer was in charge of the church.)
1789 On November 26, members of the General Assembly gave thanks at a worship service at Saint Paul’s, listening to a sermon by the Rev. Mr. Palmer.
1796 Presbyterian trustees are appointed by the legislature and to be given a lot in Augusta.
1798 The Methodists form a congregation in Augusta after being thrown out of Saint Paul’s for offensive preaching by the Reverend Stith Mead.
1799 The Reverend Adam Boyd leaves Augusta in the Spring, traveling to Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee, where hepreaches the first Episcopal service in both places. He later moves to Natchez, Mississippi, where he dies in 1803.
1799 The Trustees of the Academy appoint the Reverend James Foster Hull as Rector of Saint Paul’s Church in July 1799. He serves for 18 months until about January 1801. Rev. Hull is from Belfast, Ireland, and had been sent to America as a Presbyterian missionary. He later became a lawyer, and moved to Cambridge, South Carolina, and subsequently to New Orleans, where he became the second rector of Christ Episcopal Church. He dies in New Orleans in 1833.
1804 The Trustees of the Academy appoint the Reverend Washington McKnight as Rector of Saint Paul’s Church, who organized a Presbyterian Congregation there in the same year. The Presbyterians begin renting Saint Paul’s for their exclusive use. Mr. McKnight dies in 1805 and is buried in Saint Paul’s Churchyard. John R. Thompson becomes rector of Saint Paul’s and Pastor of the Presbyterians, who plan their own building in 1807 and are incorporated by the legislature in 1808 as Christ Church.
1809 The Trustees of the Academy withdraw the exclusive use of Saint Paul’s by the Presbyterians, citing the need to make the church available to all denominations. They begin construction of the present First Presbyterian Church on Telfair Street.
1809 An Act of the legislature was passed to grant the Baptist Society a lot in Augusta. The Baptists are later incorporated in 1817.
1811 Roman Catholics are incorporated and granted a block on Telfair Street to build a church.
1816 The Protestant Episcopal Society in Augusta is incorporated on December 13, 1816. Trustees appointed were John Milledge, John Carter, Valentine Walker, George Walton, Thomas Watkins, Richard Tubman, (Edward F. Campbell, Augustine Slaughter, Freeman Walker, Joseph Hutchinson), William M. Cowles, (Walter Leigh), John A. Barnes, Milledge Galphin, and Patrick Carnes.
1817 The Right Reverend Theodore Dehon, Bishop of South Carolina, plans to come to Augusta to administer confirmation, but dies August 6, 1817 before he can make the visit.
1817 Members of the Protestant Episcopal Society in Augusta determine to build a church by stock subscription on April 3, 1817.
1817 On the same day (April 3rd), the Trustees of the Academy of Richmond County grant two lots bounded on the north by Walker Street, west by Jackson (8th) Street and south by Watkins Street, to the Protestant Episcopal Society. (This is where the Civic Center is now located). This location apparently  didn’t satisfy the Episcopalians, who on April 23rd requested the lot on the eastern side of the Presbyterian Church to be held in reserve for their use, so that they could build a church in the same range as the Academy and the Presbyterian Church. (Several years later to become the site of the
original Medical College of Georgia building).
1818 The Legislature grants the original site of Saint Paul’s Church, along with the old town burying ground, to the Trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the City of Augusta on December 19, 1818. Three pews in the church are to be reserved for the use of strangers.
1818 On December 30, the Trustees of the Academy direct their attorney to look into the validity of the title they had formerly granted for the lot on Telfair Street.
1819 The 1789 church is removed to the corner of Broad and Kollock Streets in preparation for building a new church.
1819 John Lund, architect, is commissioned to design and build a more suitable building. The cornerstone is laid on January 27, 1819, with Masonic ceremonies and is subsequently built for $24,000.
1819 Hugh Smith of Brooklyn, New York, is called as the first Rector of the reorganized church on July 29th 1819.
1819 Saint Paul’s Church is incorporated on December 21, and the legislature appoints John Carter and Augustine Slaughter as churchwardens and Richard Tubman, Samuel Hale, Valentine Walker, George Walton, Thomas Watkins, John A. Barnes, Edward F. Campbell, Freeman Walker, James C. Winter, L. C. Cantelou, Milledge Galphin, Patrick Carnes and John Course as Vestrymen.
1820 The first election of the Wardens and Vestrymen of the church since Saint Paul’s is reorganized, takes place on Easter Monday, April 3, 1820 as directed by the Act of Incorporation.
1820 The first baptisms are recorded in the oldest existing Parish Register on April 30th. (Earlier parish registers have apparently been lost or destroyed.)
1821 Bishop Nathaniel Bowen of South Carolina consecrates the new church on March 20. On the same day, he administers the Rite of Confirmation for the first time ever at Saint Paul’s Church.

Previous  Next

Return to Timeline Page