Image from NPS – Firearms Used At Fort Smith
A Sharp’s Rifle Sermon.
The Albany Statesman has the following letter from the “Rev. Dr. Screecher” to his friend and brother, “Horace Steely,” dated at the “Parsonage of Church of Holy Rifles.”
MY DEAR BROTHER: — I preached last Sunday, with great acceptance, from the text “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The house was full, and I had a good time. Much additional interest was thrown around the service from the fact that a large company of freedom-shriekers, on their way to Kanzas, were present. I combatted the old fashioned notions, and, I think, successfully, that the religion of the New Testament was to bring peace on earth and good will to men. I showed the fallacy of all those teachings of the Apostles which speak of rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s — of being subject to the higher powers, because they were ordained of God, &c., &c. I admitted that there was a time when these injunctions were imperative and binding; but I proved, and, I think, clearly, that theology, like all other sciences, is progressive, and that steam engines and Sharp’s rifles are now the true Evangels. In conformity with this position, I assume that the word translated “preach” should be rendered “shoot,” so that the text, as in my version, would read: “Go ye into all the world and shoot the gospel (from Sharp’s rifles) at every creature.” The more I reflect upon the subject the more I am persuaded that this is the true mode of gospel propagandism.
With Sharp’s rifles, and the bible for wadding, scripture truth can be sent directly home to the hearts of the people, and be inwardly digested by them.
Brother Kill’em (glorious name, how I love it!) has sent one of these missionaries to Kanzas, and many others among the meek and lowly disciples are following his example. The thing takes wonderfully, and it is a capital hit for the Screecher family. My dear brother, it would have done your heart good to have witnessed those Kanzasians listening to the truth as it is in Screecher. With many of them you are acquainted. They have passed through all the phases of Fourierism, Socialism and Free-Loveism up to the sublime heights of Rifleism. —
With their long hair, slouched hats and blouses, they were the true-ideals of the Tribune office. But it is not alone for propagaing the gospel in Kanzas that my people are becoming distinguished. I notice that one member of my church has bet one thousand dollars that he will find and kill the man who three vitriol on his child’s dress for a few days since. —
Thus the work goes on: Let us persevere, and the time will soon come when rifles and bowie-knives will supercede the necessity for Bible truth and Gospel preaching.
Allen County Democrat (Lima, Ohio) May 24, 1856
The abolitionist preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, collected funds to arm like-minded settlers (the precision rifles were known as “Beecher’s Bibles”). Fewer Southerners showed interest in settling in Kansas, but proslavery communities were formed at Leavenworth and Atchison.