Tale of a Southern Unionist Recalcitrant

Headstone of Robert Malone Guttery.

Headstone of Robert Malone Guttery.

I couldn’t let St. Andrews Day pass today without honoring a distant Scottish-American forebear of mine: Robert Malone Guttery, my great(4) grandfather.

Guttery was a largely self-educated Primitive Baptist minister who possessed an apparently superhuman reservoir of human courage. Considered the father of the Primitive Baptist faith in Walker County, Alabama, he was also apparently politically active.

He was known as a “conservative” for his support of the Constitutional Unionist Party, a political movement popular in north Alabama and much of the upper South for its advocacy of preserving the American Union on the basis of the Constitution.

Yet, Guttery is best remembered for his unflinching support of Unionist principles representing his native Walker County at the 1861 Secession Convention in Montgomery. Guttery was only one of 3 delegates among the 100 who refused to sign the Ordinance of Secession, even after it was passed around a second time.

Like so many Southern Unionists during the war, he undoubtedly endured his share of ridicule, shunning and verbal abuse. Like another Unionist, Sam Houston, he  watched most of his sons enlist and fight for the Confederacy.  One endured imprisonment at the Union prison of Johnson’s Island.

True to his Unionist principles, though, he reportedly spent the war providing shelter to young men with Unionist sympathies struggling to avoid conscription in the Confederate Army.  His granddaughter, Melissa Orleana Guttery, my great(2) grandmother, married another committed Walker County Unionist, John Wesley Wakefield, who served in the First Alabama Cavalry, USA.

Holding true to his constitutional Unionist principles, Guttery was a vocal proponent of restoring order and the rule of law after the war and putting aside past animosities.


About Jim Langcuster

A Southern late-Baby Boomer whose post-retirement focus is on building a post-racial, post-Confederate Southern regional identity. If the election of 2016 underscored one thing, it is that this country is intractably divided and that radical devolution of power to localities and states is the only way to save the American Union.
This entry was posted in Alabama Political History, American History, The Passing Scene and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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