Henry Bidleman Bascom (1796—1850) was an American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, elected in 1850. He also distinguished himself as a Circuit rider, Pastor and Christian Preacher; as Chaplain to the U.S. House of Representatives; and as an Editor, a College Academic, and a denominational leader.
Birth and Family
ancestry, Henry was born 27 May 1796 in Hancock
, Delaware County
, New York
. He was a descentant of Windsor, Connecticut
founder, Thomas Bascom, who came to America in 1634. The name Bidleman came from the family of Henry's maternal grandmother
Rosanna Bidleman. Henry married
Eliza Van Antwerp 7 March 1839
in New York City
. Henry united with the Methodist Episcopal Church
in Western Pennsylvania
Henry had but little education, but was Licensed to Preach in 1813 at the age of seventeen and was received on trial by the Ohio Annual Conference
of the M.E. Church
. Rev. Bascom worked hard as a frontier Circuit Rider
. For example, one year he preached 400 times, receiving a salary of just $12.10. Nevertheless, he soon became famous
as a pulpit orator
Yet, Rev. Bascom's style being too florid to suit many to whom he preached in Ohio, in 1816 he was transferred to Tennessee. He served appointments there and in Kentucky until 1822, when he returned to Ohio.
The Rev. Henry Bidleman Bascom was awarded the Honorary Degree Doctor of Divinity.
Bascom the Pulpit Orator
M.E. Bishop Matthew Simpson
, in his Cyclopaedia of Methodism,
wrote this about the Rev. Dr. Henry Bidleman Bascom's pulpit
- At one point, he was perhaps the most popular pulpit orator in the United States. His sermons, though long, did not weary the people. They were evidently prepared with great care As is often the case, in reading his sermons we miss the brilliancy and vivacity of the living speaker. He was a man of remarkably fine personal appearance, and had a voice of great compass and power.
In 1823 Henry Clay
obtained for him the appointment of Chaplain
of the U.S. House of Representatives
, serving 1824-26. At one time he visited Baltimore
, where his fervid oratory
made a great sensation. He was known as a powerful speaker, fond of strong epithets
and rather extravagant metaphors
Academic and Editorial Ministry
Rev. Bascom served as the first President
of Madison College
, Uniontown, Pennsylvania
(1827-29). He then became the Agent of the American Colonization Society
(1829-31). In 1832 he was elected Professor
of Moral Science and Belles-lettres
at Augusta College
, an early Methodist school in Kentucky
, serving until 1842.
Rev. Bascom then was elected President of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky (1842-1849), having previously declined the presidency of two other colleges. A portrait of Rev. Bascom , painted circa 1826 by the artist John Neagle, hangs in the University Board Room.
From 1846 until 1850 Rev. Bascom edited the Southern Methodist Quarterly Review. He was a delegate to every M.E. General Conference from 1828 until 1844.
Rev. Bascom played an important role at the M.E.
General Conference of 1844, when the denomination divided over the question of slavery
. The Church suspended Bishop James Osgood Andrew
because he refused to manumit
his slaves. Dr. Bascom wrote the famous "protest of the minority" of the southern members against this action by the majority. He was also a member of the convention held the next year at Louisville
, at which the Methodist Episcopal Church, South
was organized, also serving as author
of its report. He then became chairman
of the commission
appointed to settle the differences between the two branches of the Church. He also published an elaborate volume in defense of the Southern Church, entitled "Methodism and Slavery."
The Re. Dr. Bascom was elected to the Episcopacy
by the General Conference of the M.E. Church, South
in 1850 at St. Louis
. He was consecrated
a Bishop in May 1850, just a few short months before his death.
Death and Burial
Bishop Bascom died 8 September 1850 in Louisville, Kentucky
. He is buried in Louisville's Eastern Cemetery. Reportedly, his lovely grave marker has fallen on hard times.
- Methodism and Slavery (1847)
- Sermons from the Pulpit
- Lectures on Infidelity
- Lectures on Moral and Mental Science
- his collected works (4 volumes) were edited by Rev. T.N. Ralston and printed at Nashville (1850 and 1856).
- Henkle, M.M., Life of Bishop Bascom, Nashville, 1854.
- "Henry Bidleman Bascom." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. © 1994, 2000-2005, on Infoplease. © 2000–2006 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. Accessed 25 September 2006
- "Bascom, Henry Bidleman" in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Samuel Macauley Jackson, D.D., LL.D., Editor-in-Chief, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1954.
- Cyclopaedia of Methodism, Matthew Simpson, D.D., LL.D., Ed., (Revised Edition.) Philadelphia, Louis H. Everts, 1880.