north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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     Robert Paine, a founder of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, spent his youth near Roxboro, where he was born on November 12, 1799, to James and Nancy Williams Paine. Fifteen years later, the family moved to Giles County, Tennessee, and it was there at an 1817 camp meeting that Robert Paine was converted. Confident of his calling into the ministry, within a year he was admitted to the itinerant ministry at the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1821, Paine was ordained a deacon and, in 1823, an elder.

     In the years leading up to the Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal General Conference was split over the slavery issue. Those in the anti-slavery camp echoed the feelings of Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, who fervently opposed the institution. Many, including Robert Paine, however, were in the pro-slavery faction. A planter himself, Paine owned 3100 acres and fifty-two slaves. In 1844, he led his fellow dissenters in drafting a peaceful “Plan of Separation.” The plan permitted the annual conferences in slaveholding states to separate from the Methodist Episcopal Church and form their own structures. At a conference the following year, Paine became one of the founders of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. On May 14, 1846, he was ordained as a bishop and served in that position for thirty-six years. A two-thirds drop in membership provides evidence that the Civil War took its toll on the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Paine played an important role in the survival of the church during the critical period.

     Paine served as president of northern Alabama’s LaGrange College from 1829 to 1846. The college was founded under the patronage of the Tennessee and Alabama Conferences. Established in 1882 to train African American ministers, Paine Institute (now Paine College) was named in honor of the Methodist bishop. In addition, he wrote a biography of Bishop McKendree entitled Life and Times of William McKendree. Paine married Susanna Beck in 1823, Amanda Shaw in 1837, and Mary Eliza Millwater in 1839, and had nine children. He died on October 19, 1882 in Aberdeen, Mississippi.


References:
Paine College website: http://www.paine.edu
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 7-8—sketch by Grady L. E. Carroll
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