This is the story of how one man, Samuel Augustus Hayden, almost destroyed the newly organized Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) before it could take root. In the final decades of the nineteenth century, Hayden caused such unrest among Texas Baptists that after a failed attempt to take over the BGCT, he was expelled from the state body. In turn, he created a rival organization, the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA), which continued to fight perceived oppression by the BGCT. Hayden, through his newspaper, accused his enemies of embezzlement, heresy, arson, and strong-arm tactics. His high-profile opponents included George Washington Truett, Benajah Harvey Carroll, and James Britton Cranfill, who asserted through their newspapers that Hayden was insane, a liar, and a heretic. Baptists in Texas were forced to take sides in the struggle, which came to a dramatic conclusion on a train bound for the Southern Baptist Convention, when Cranfill and Hayden scuffled over a pistol.
JOSEPH E. EARLY, JR., is assistant professor of religion at Cumberland College, Williamsburg, Kentucky, and the author of A Texas Baptist History Sourcebook, also published by the University of North Texas Press. JOHN W. STOREY, who wrote the foreword, is professor of history at Lamar University.