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Civil War author to visit Camden
Dorn Headshot
Dr. T. Felder Dorn

Dr. T. Felder Dorn will be at Books on Broad, 944 Broad St., in Camden, October 8, from 5:30 - 7 .p.m to autograph copies of his book, Challenges on the Emmaus Road: Episcopal Bishops Confront Slavery, Civil War, and Emancipation.

This book, which will be released this month by the University of South Carolina Press, covers the period 1840 – 1875 and examines the words and actions of Episcopal bishops of that era, first concerning slavery and then concerning the momentous events and issues spawned by that institution.

During the antebellum period and the Civil War years, the primary response of Southern Episcopal bishops to slavery was to encourage and provide support for efforts within their dioceses to bring slaves into the church. Thomas Frederick Davis, Bishop of South Carolina from 1854 to 1871, was a strong advocate of this approach, and in 1860 nearly half of the communicants in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina were slaves. Davis, a native of North Carolina, was called to be rector of Grace Church in Camden in 1846 and remained in that position after he became bishop.

After the war, Bishop Davis was faced with rebuilding a diocese that had suffered much devastation and scattering of its white congregations and with the religious life of former slaves, and was one of a few Southern bishops who immediately accepted help from the Northern church to establish and operate church-supported schools for the secular and religious education of the children of former slaves.

Dorn is a native of South Carolina who grew up in Greenwood and Charleston. He began his academic career in Sewanee, Tenn., on the faculty of the University of the South. He retired as Dean Emeritus from Kean University in Union, N.J., where he held positions as professor of chemistry, dean, and vice president.

Of writing Challenges on the Emmaus Road: Episcopal Bishops Confront Slavery, Civil War, and Emancipation, Dorn said, "The words of bishops in the Episcopal church in the Civil War Era are on record in their sermons and addresses at church conventions. What I have done in Challenges on the Emmaus Road, is to let the bishops speak for themselves on how they interpret the teachings of the Bible, in respect to slavery."

He added, "I have found their thoughts to be fascinating and I hope the reader will also."