Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in History

First Advisor

Ted M. Ownby

Second Advisor

Darren E. Grem

Third Advisor

Jeffrey R. Watt


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



Cornelius W. Grafton (b.1846, d.1934) pastored two Presbyterian churches in Southwest Mississippi for 61 consecutive years (1873-1934). He moderated the Presbyterian Church, U.S. General Assembly in 1916 and wrote a 658-page unpublished History of Presbyterianism in Mississippi. This dissertation studies Grafton’s ministry—his student years at the University of Mississippi and Columbia Theological Seminary, his sermons, his public opposition to lynching, and his periodical and historical writings—to understand how white Christians in the South thought of and responded to their context from Reconstruction through the Progressive Era and into the 1930’s. Many of the priorities of Grafton’s ministry corresponded to those of the fundamentalist movement. He believed that he lived and ministered in a world governed by divine providence. He preached and wrote for a primarily religious purpose, to bring people to Christian conversion and consecrated living. His interpretations of history and society flowed from his theological beliefs and sought to promote his religious aims.



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