Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Morris N. Barton Papers, 1822-1855

Finding aid created by
P. B., May 1990

Summary Information
Title: Morris N. Barton papers
Creator: Barton, Morris N., 1799-1857
Inclusive dates: 1822-1855
Extent: 42 items (0.25 linear feet)
Abstract:
The Morris Barton papers consist of manuscripts and letters that reveal much about Barton's conceptions of religion and spirituality and about his role as a minister in the Burned-Over District at the height of the Second Great Awakening.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1985. M-2193.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

No copyright restrictions.

Preferred Citation:

Morris N. Barton papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Morris N. Barton served as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Romulus, N.Y., through the most crucial stages of the Second Great Awakening. Barton was educated at Hamilton College (class of 1823) and the Auburn Theological Seminary, and began his ministry at the Presbyterian Church in Romulus in 1825, just as the evangelical fervor of the Awakening reached its peak. These two institutions were among the intellectual centers of the religious movement that dominated the "Burned-Over District" of New York State through the 1820s and much of the 30s, and many of the ministers who conducted the revivals and inspired religious enthusiasm studied there. Thus, Barton's writings serve as an illustration of the intellectual discourse around the Awakening, one of the most significant intellectual and religious phenomena of the nineteenth century.

Like many men and women who were stirred by the Second Great Awakening, Barton developed interests in a wide range of social and moral reform movements. His essays and sermons reflected a strong desire to bring about the moral regeneration of his parishioners, and more generally, the world, and he longed equally to see his religious principles expressed in everyday life. Clearly, Barton held Arminian tendencies, believing that salvation depended on actions in this world, and was not solely the product of divine grace. As a result, he favored active intervention to eliminate America's greatest moral issue, slavery, preferring financial and moral support for the colonization of freed slaves as a way to atone for this transgression. In general, Barton felt that there were spiritual benefits in the cultivation of popular associations because such groups encouraged feelings of brotherhood and cooperation, feelings which created a predisposition to spiritual improvement.

Barton married in his late 20s and he and his wife Ann had 9 children. He held the pastorate at the Presbyterian Church in Romulus for 24 years and died there in 1857 at the age of 57.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Morris Barton papers consist of manuscripts and letters written between 1822 and 1855 that reveal much about Barton's conceptions of religion and spirituality and of his role as a minister in the Burned-Over District at the height of the Second Great Awakening.

Perhaps the most interesting items in the collection are the draft copies of Barton's sermons and essays, most of which were written during his student days at Hamilton and Auburn. Unlike some ministers who preferred to discuss spiritual matters on a metaphysical plane, Barton worked hard to relate man's spiritual condition to contemporary social and moral issues. Following the trend of the Awakening, he attempted to deal with spiritual issues through an analysis of real-world problems. He seems to have been particularly interested in the history of Asia as a source of moral instruction and inspiration, and he wrote several essays about it. He also wrote on the history of India and portrayed British colonial rule there as a moral abomination. The colonization movement attracted Barton's interest as well. He saw slavery as the United States' greatest national sin, and called for its elimination.

Criticism of metaphysical theology also can be found in the collection in a short manuscript written by Elihu Wittlesby Baldwin. Baldwin was a fairly prominent Presbyterian minister who served as president of Wabash College in Indiana from 1835 until his death in 1840. He seemed to share Barton's support for religion that pertained to everyday life, and he attacked what he called the "metaphysical trend" in contemporary theology as represented by Jonathan Edwards, Nathanael Emmons and Samuel Hopkins. Although no direct connection between Baldwin and Barton is apparent, Baldwin's essay compliments Barton's work.

The collection also contains copies of a number of letters from Barton to his friends and acquaintances in the Finger Lakes region. Many of his correspondents were women, and his letters to them contain commentary on recent revivals in the area as well as personal spiritual exhortation. These letters offer some insight into the personal relations between the clergy and lay people, and they suggest the importance of women as allies of the clergy in the attempt to spread religious enthusiasm.

The remainder of the collection consists of items of a more quotidian nature. Barton was appointed as executor of the estate of Michael Baldridge, a leader of the Romulus Presbyterian Church; and one folder contains twenty-two receipts from the settlement of Baldridge's estate. There are also a number of documents pertaining to Barton's own financial affairs.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Antislavery movements.
    • Moral education.
    • Piety.
    • Presbyterian Church--Clergy--Appointment, call and election.
    • Revivals--New York (State)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   1  
    Morris N. Barton papers,  1822-1855 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    African-Americans--Colonization
    • n.d. ("Question--Ought the United States to Establish a Colony of Blacks on the coast of Africa")
    Amherst College
    • 1823 April 15
    Asia--History
    • 1822 December 22 ("The moral history of Asia")
    • n.d. ("Asia...")
    Auburn Theological Seminary
    • ca.1823
    • 1823 February 17
    Baldridge, Michael
    • 1825 November 3
    • 1847 March 1
    Barton, Morris N.
    • 1825 September 7
    • 1825 November 3
    Body and soul in literature
    • n.d. ("Desultorie Observations")
    Calvinism
    • n.d. (Essay on the Metaphysical Trend in Theology)
    Claims against decedents' estates
    • 1847 March 1
    • 1845-1850
    Community psychology
    • 1823 December
    Conversion
    • 1823 April
    • 1823 April 16
    Dualism
    • n.d. ("Desultorie Observations")
    Edwards, Jonathan, 1745-1801
    • n.d. (Essay on the Metaphysical Trend in Theology)
    Emmons, Nathanael, 1745-1840
    • n.d. (Essay on the Metaphysical Trend in Theology)
    Eternity
    • n.d. (Musings on Eternity)
    Evangelical revivals--New York (State)
    • 1824 March
    • n.d.
    Evangelistic work--New York (State)
    • 1822 November 11
    • 1823 April 15
    Executors and administrators
    • 1841 August 14
    • 1847 March 1
    • 1845-1850
    Great Britain--Colonies--Administration
    • n.d. (Essay on India)
    Great Britain--Colonies--Native races
    • n.d. (Essay on India)
    Hamilton College
    • ca.1823
    History--Study and Teaching
    • 1822 December 24
    Hopkins, Samuel, 1721-1803
    • n.d. (Essay on the Metaphysical Trend in Theology)
    India--History
    • n.d. (Essay on India)
    Justification
    • n.d. ("What is the Scripture doctrine of Justification before God")
    Mills, Samuel J., 1783-1818
    • n.d. ("Question--Ought the United States to Establish a Colony of Blacks on the coast of Africa")
    Mind and body
    • n.d. ("Desultorie Observations")
    Moral conditions
    • n.d. ("Question: Have physical causes more effect in forming a national character than moral")
    Moral education
    • 1822 December 22
    • 1822 December 24
    • 1823 December
    • n.d. ("Asia: the peculiar interest in which her history together with her future prospects are calculated to inspire")
    • n.d. (Essay on the capacity of nature for moral inspiration)
    • n.d. (Essay on India)
    • n.d. ("Phoenix Address")
    National characteristics
    • n.d. ("Question: Have physical causes more effect in forming a national character than moral")
    Nature--Religious interpretations
    • n.d. (Essay on the capacity of nature for moral inspiration)
    New York (State)--Description and travel
    • 1824 February
    Philosophy--Study and Teaching
    • 1822 December 24
    Piety
    • 1823 February 17
    • 1823 April
    • 1823 April 15
    • 1823 April 16
    • 1823 June 18
    • 1824 March
    • n.d. (2)
    • n.d. ("Extract of Wm. Goodell's letter to Geo. Thomas")
    Preaching
    • n.d.
    Presbyterian Church--Clergy--Appointment, call and election
    • 1825 September 7
    • 1825 November 3
    • 1855 January 9
    Presbyterian Church--Clergy--Salaries
    • n.d. ("Remarks: 'Hints to Students Preparing for the Ministry'")
    Regeneration (Theology)
    • n.d. ("What is the Scripture doctrine of Justification before God")
    Repentance
    • n.d. (Essay on repentance)
    Revivals--New York (State)
    • 1822 November 11
    • 1823 April 15
    • 1823 April 16
    • 1824 March
    • 1824 March 28
    • n.d.
    Salvation
    • 1823 April
    • 1824 March
    • n.d.
    • n.d. (Essay on repentance)
    Scottish poetry
    • 1824 ("Bruse's Address")
    Slavery--Anti-slavery movements
    • n.d. ("Question--Ought the United States to Establish a Colony of Blacks on the coast of Africa")
    Social psychology
    • n.d. ("Question: Have physical causes more effect in forming a national character than moral")
    Temptation
    • 1823 April 15
    Theology, Doctrinal
    • n.d.
    • n.d. ("What is the Scripture doctrine of Justification before God")
    Theology, Practical
    • 1825 September 7
    • 1825 November 3
    • n.d. (2)
    • n.d. (Essay on repentance)
    Theology, Protestant
    • n.d. (Essay on the Metaphysical Trend in Theology)
    • n.d. ("What is the Scripture doctrine of Justification before God")
    Williams College
    • 1823 April 15
    Wills
    • 1842 July 14