1808.030: Answer to a Pamphlet entitled Priest-Craft Detected.

Published: 1808

Full Title: Answer to a pamphlet entitled, Priest-craft detected by Stith Mead

Author: Mead, Stith (1766/7-1834).

Place Issued: Richmond

Issuing Press: Seaton Grantland

Description: 64 pgs.


The exchange intimated by this title was one over the hierarchy of the Methodist Episcopal Church; from 1792 onward, when the followers of James O'Kelly (1757-1826) broke from the primacy of Bishop Francis Asbury (1745-1816), there were similar schisms within American Methodism, most resulting from the increasing centralization of authority in the hands of a small cadre of bishops who sought to enforce an orthodox theology. Here, the dispute was over Asbury's backing for a supreme administrative body over the regional Methodist conferences then in control of the faith; Mead wrote this tract to counter the opinions of one William Guirey, a former Methodist minister who had split from Asbury about 1799 over the sacrament of baptism; Guirey forced a debate with Mead over Asbury's power during the 1807 Virginia General Conference meeting at Lynchburg, and published a pamphlet reporting the event: Priest Craft Detected or a correct account of the proceedings between Stith Mead, Presiding Elder of the Methodist Church, and William Guirey, minister in the Christian Church (that imprint is now lost). In response to Mead's comments in this tract, Guirey sued Mead for slander in the Orange County Court and won a judgment of $430, one which Mead later reported to have limited his ministry's finances for many years. Guirey's tract was most likely printed in Lynchburg by James Graham, then proprietor of the town's only press; such is suggested by the fact that shortly after Mead's rebuttal was issued in Richmond, Grantland's brother Fleming took up residence there and began publishing the Lynchburg Press in opposition to Graham's Lynchburg Star, with the editorial assistance of Samuel K. Jennings, a popular Methodist minister and respected physician there.

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