The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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was built for him and he was made its rector in 1852. His connection with that parish was of short duration, however, for in 1853 the Diocese of North Carolina called upon him to be its Bishop. He accepted the call October 17th, and was consecrated the same year in St. John's Chapel, in the city of New York, at the same time with the Rev. Thomas F. Davis, D. D., a native of Wilmington, N. C., who had been elected Bishop of South Carolina. Bishop Brownell, of Connecticut, presiding, assisted by Bishops McIlvaine, of Ohio; Doane, of New Jersey; McCoskry, of Michigan, and Otey, of Tennessee. On that occasion the lines of English and American succession were reunited, Bishop Spencer, of Madras, and Bishop Medley, of Fredericton, taking part in the act of consecration. After his consecration he resided in Raleigh for a short time and then took up his abode in Wilmington, which city continued to be his home until his death on January 4, 1881. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Trinity College, Hartford, 1846, and that LL D. from the University of North Carolina, 1862, and also from the University of Cambridge, England, 1867.

        Bishop Atkinson assumed charge of the Diocese of North Carolina at a very trying time in its history. Bishop Ives, the successor of the great Ravenscroft, had abandoned his charge and had joined the Roman Catholic communion. There was great anxiety throughout the Diocese as to the effect upon the Church in North Carolina of the defection of their chief pastor and it was feared that he who should be called to that high office would meet with more than ordinary difficulty in calming the troubled waters and bringing order out of chaos. It required administrative ability of a high order, firmness without obstinacy, self reliance and fearlessness in the discharge of duty, a personal magnetism and a character unimpeached and unimpeachable. Dr. Atkinson upon whom the choice fell was personally known to but few in the Diocese. The hand of God was evident in the selection, for under his wise administration, dissensions ceased, confidence was restored and the Diocese remained true to the teachings of the uncompromising Ravenscroft and to the "faith once delivered to the saints."

        Bishop Atkinson was a singularly prospered man in every way, a fact brought prominently forward by Bishop Lay of Easton, in his admirable memorial sermon before the Diocesan convention at Raleigh in May 1881, a discourse from which most has been drawn in the prepration of this article. Said he, "I would set in the forefront of this discourse the expression of our devout gratitude to Almighty God for the tenderness of his life long dealings with Thomas Atkinson, late Bishop of North Carolina. Few lives have ever been so even and prosperous, so laden with substantial blessings, so shielded from calamnity." Though never a wealthy man, the Bishop had enough for the gratification of his tastes, enough to enable him to practice a liberal hospitality and to avoid debt which he would never incur, for he would not owe any man anything but love; enough to aid a friend and to assist the needy, and his charity was large. In his domestic relations he was peculiarly blest. He had fifty three years of wedded happiness and children were born unto him and yet, during all that time there was never a death in his immediate family. Surely God blessed Thomas Atkinson.

        In his personal endowments also he was greatly favored. It is told of the late Bishop Elliott of Georgia, who was one of nature's noblemen in every way, that once at a country tavern where he had stopped for the night, a poor inebriate was recklessly bantering the bystanders when his attention was arrested by the appearance of the stately Bishop. Awed and sobered for the moment by his commanding look and towering form he turned to him and exclaimed "who are you; are you a Judge, a member of Congress or Governor of the State? Well, if
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