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Otken did not attend his first meeting until , two years after being named a member. He next attended the June session of and the sessions in July and August. After , he did not attend a session until January , the last session he attended. In July , although the board met in Summit at the Otken School Building named for him, Otken was not listed on the roster of those in attendance. Otken did involve himself as a board member in response to the removal of college president, W. After a time of conflict with the faculty of Mississippi College and an investigation by the board, the trustees secured the resignation of Webb in June, , in a meeting not attended by Otken.

One month later, Otken attended a board meeting and introduced a motion that the board rescind its action against Webb, which it did for a one year term. Several weeks later, Webb sent a message to a meeting of the executive committee of the board, declining the offer. In August, Otken attended the board meeting and made a motion that a formal note be entered into the record that Webb had been named Professor Emeritus after his removal as president.

A resident of the northeast corner city of Iuka, Stone worked as an agent of the railroads before entering state politics as a Bourbon Democrat. As governor, Stone served non-consecutive terms and held the office longer than any other person, ascending to the office on three occasions. In each Stone Administration, the state rescinded various aspects of Reconstruction Era reforms, including the creation of a two party state and biracialism. When the legislature impeached the Lieutenant Governor, Governor Adelbert Ames resigned before he could be removed.

In the election of , with no Republican on the ticket, voters elected Stone in a commanding landslide. During his first fully-elected term, Stone took steps to continue the removal of state leaders with connections to Reconstruction and the Republican Party by targeting appointed levels state boards and agencies. The Stone Administration worked to secure mass resignations of board members, replacing them with Democratic, anti-Reconstruction trustees, one of whom was Otken.

The Stone connection provides important background to the political alliances that Otken forged, alliances that show him to be affiliated with Bourbon Democrats more than Populists. The Democratic Party also possessed, as did state Democratic parties across the country, a Bourbon wing allied with planter, railroad, and industrial interests.


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The agrarian wing of the Democratic Party included Frank Burkitt, Putnam Darden, and Ethelbert Barksdale, among others, each of whom had connections to the Populist Movement in Mississippi and considered involvement with the Populist Party. The nature of Mississippi Bourbons adds complexity to the fault lines in the Democratic Party.

Mississippi Bourbons could not be seen as uniformly anti-small farmer.

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While Bourbons were united in their support of the planter class and railroad interests, some Bourbon leaders also advocated agrarian policies that attracted support of pro-farmer leaders in the Grange and the Alliance. This approach constituted an agrarian-oriented Bourbon Democrat, an approach absent from the Bourbon movements of other states, of which Stone was the chief exemplar.

For example, Stone promoted the creation of an agricultural college, culminating in the founding of Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College at Starkville, which gained him significant farmer support, including that of Grange leader Putnam Darden. The agrarian wing of the Mississippi Bourbons, rather than the anti-Bourbon agrarians or the third party Populists, provided the ideological home for Otken, as well as his source of patronage.

The Baptist denomination, however, continued to provide Otken with his largest forum of leadership.

The quality of mercy: Southern Baptists and social Christianity, 1890-1920

From , Otken wrote a series of articles on higher education. In these articles, Otken offered some of his first thoughts on the contributions that the Christian religion owed to the larger society, especially through the influence of its colleges. Equally important, social action would make the world a better place.

The liberal arts and related disciplines nurtured character as much as they expanded the body of knowledge. Without character, virtue, and morality, Otken argued, education had no value and perhaps did great harm. For example, Otken challenged to the role of a market based economy in education, speaking against unrestricted capitalism for the first time. Without a moral underpinning, education would establish its priorities by the needs of market and economic forces, which Otken claimed round counter to promotion of the common good and the Christian religion.

He feared that a moral standard in education can be easily dismissed when market values determine the priorities of education, including curriculum. Values should determine actions, including market actions, not vice versa. Otken also addressed the nature of Christian higher education as secular or non-sectarian and he proclaimed a role for education that was distinct from the work of a congregation. Churches should support higher education in order to influence the common good of society. Churches should not create colleges that duplicate the sectarian work of the congregation. Do they teach the doctrines held by our denomination?

Certainly not.

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After completing a manuscript on economic and racial matters, Otken began the arduous task of securing a publisher. Success did not come quickly. In August , he received his first rejection letter from the Baker and Taylor Company. Patton soon reported that he had met with a representative of D. Appleton and Company, who found the manuscript appealing. He offered to approach Houghton, Mifflin, and Company at the end of September when travelling to Boston, believing that publisher would have an interest.

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Four weeks later, Patton followed up with Okten on his trip to Boston. Their meeting was favorable, leading Patton to conclude that the Putnam business would publish the manuscript. Otken hoped that his book would have wide sales in the South, especially among Southern planters. Otken was to pay for the printing plates for the publication of his book, a standard practice for first publications.

By December, Putnam had carefully reviewed the book for publication, returned it to Otken for revisions, and promised a copyright contract. The Ills of the South opened with a challenge to capitalism typical of the Populist rhetoric of the era, although, as noted earlier, Otken had no formal connections to Populism. The crop-lien system occupied a central place in his criticism. This credit system developed in the post-Civil War South as a way for cash poor farmers, both tenants and landowners, to gain farming materials on credit.

Farmers secured supplies from merchants and cash from lenders with the future crop as collateral. Merchants frequently sold goods with the requirement that only cotton be grown. In years when the price of cotton was less than the expected price at the time of the sale, farmers were unable to close out their accounts and carried a debt to the next year. The debt at the end of the growing year increasingly became standard, so that once farmers became immersed in this system, exiting it was impossible, generally leading to a loss of land ownership.

Mississippi enacted its lien law in during Reconstruction. By , the debt ratio had increased to a level that cotton profits would in many cases never erase the lien.

Otken observed that the lien system by design forced small landowners to become increasingly dependent on credit, robbing them of their autonomy. Otken saw the southern crop lien system as a problem within larger context that occupied the entire nation—capitalism. Otken charged that free markets and profits and accumulation of wealth were not morally neutral entities.

In fact, the lien system contributed to the accumulation of wealth in a small class of people, an accumulation that he saw as fundamentally immoral. The economic system of the entire nation lacked government regulation and elevated the principle of maximized profits above all other interests. The general prosperity of the people—their welfare is not the question.

Progress is measured by the aggregate capital of the few. There are said to be fifty millionaires in the South. What about the 18,,? This economic arrangement had injustice built into it by allowing some people to become millionaires while many became paupers at the expense of the small, wealthy minority.

Catalog Record: A colony of mercy : or, Social Christianity | HathiTrust Digital Library

While a creditor may wish at first to sell the land in small tracts to area residents or even create conditions that would allow people to reacquire their farms, the personal morality and good will of economic leaders controlling the system were simply not strong enough to protect people.

Corporate forces would always overpower personal good will in a capital driven free market economy. When the merchant is pressed for money, patriotism will lose its aroma, and the land will go into the market; the highest cash bidder will get it. Profits, though, were hardly neutral or natural. Supply and demand reflected the concrete decisions people made and affected profit and Otken called for an awareness of this arrangement.

In addition to ending the crop lien system, Otken called for regulation of the amount of cotton grown to increase the price and to create diversification of agriculture. Some of these traditions were ending, while others would continue into the 20 th century. His challenges to banking and credit, as well as his criticism of the accumulation of wealth, expressed clear Populist themes, as the Populist movement ended.

He also operated in a tradition of Christian agrarianism that had origins prior to the Populist Era and that would continue into the twentieth century. His religiously informed agrarianism celebrated landowning farmers as ones with a heritage of self-sufficiency to which they should return, after disconnecting from the corrupt economic system. This approach placed the family farm and small scale living at the center of revived lifestyle that had distinct theological support and that provided specific solutions to complex problems. African Americans, he argued paternalistically, have always been a subjected people, with their worst oppression or their greatest patronage being the result of whites.

Language eng. Publication Tuscaloosa, Ala. Extent xi, p. Isbn Dimensions unknown Extent xi, p.

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Form of item electronic Isbn Isbn Type electronic bk. Reproduction note Electronic reproduction. Specific material designation remote. Library Locations Map Details. Allalra Library Borrow it. Library Links. All Americans, liberal or conservative, religious or not, can agree that religious freedom, anchored in conscience rights, is foundational to the U.

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But what freedom of conscience means, what its scope and limits are, according to the Constitution—these are matters for heated debate. As the contributors to this interdisciplinary volume attest, understanding religious freedom demands taking multiple perspectives.

The social scientists discuss the swift, striking effects of judicial decision making and the battles over free exercise in a complex, bureaucratic society.