EDWIN HOLT HUGHES 1866-1950
From the collection of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
- MM 1896, Converse
- Grand Chaplain 1918
Edwin Holt Hughes (7 December 1866 – 12 February 1950) was an American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, elected in 1908.
BIRTH AND FAMILY
Edwin was born in Moundsville, West Virginia, the son of the Rev. Thomas B. and Louisa (Holt) Hughes. He married Isabel Ebbert 8 June 1892. She predeceased him. They had six children: Isabel, Holt, Ebbert, Caroline, Anna Louise, and Francis.
He studied at West Virginia University beginning in 1887, graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1889 (A.B. degree) and 1892 (A.M. degree). He then attended Boston University School of Theology, 1889-92.
Bishop Hughes was honored with such degrees by Ohio Wesleyan, Wesleyan University, Norwich University, Boston University, the University of Rochester, Florida Southern College, Dickinson College, the University of Southern California, and DePauw University.
Rev. Hughes began preaching in 1886. He was Pastor at Newton Centre, Massachusetts (1892–96), and at Malden, Massachusetts (1896–1903). He then became the President of DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana in 1903. As President he worked on promoting student discipline and reducing the University's financial deficits. By the time Hughes left office, the University's endowment had more than doubled, from $231,000 to $530,000. His term as President ended in 1909 shortly after assuming the work of a Bishop.
Rev. Hughes also served as a Trustee of the Carnegie Foundation (1904–08). He was elected president of the State Teachers' Association of Indiana for the year 1904.
Bishop Hughes traveled widely throughout the Church. In addition, he served as a Trustee of Boston University, Dickinson College, Ohio Wesleyan, Northwestern University, and DePauw. He was the President of the Religious Committee of the Panama Pacific Exposition (1910–11). He also served as a member of the Muhlenberg Bicentennial Commission in 1942.
He was a Fraternal delegate to Irish and English Methodism in 1930, representing American Methodism. He was the Senior Chairman of the Methodist Unification Commission (1938–40), that ultimately accomplished the reunion of the three major Methodist bodies in the U.S.A. in 1939. In retirement Bishop Hughes lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He was taken ill for the final time while on a speaking engagement in Muncie, Indiana. He died 12 February 1950 of viral pneumonia after two weeks in a hospital in Washington, D.C.
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1917
From Proceedings, Page 1917-441:
Most Worshipful Grand Master and Brethren:
After hearing our Most Worshipful Grand Master's speech tonight I wondered what need in the world he had of any Chaplains at all. I do not know his denominational relations, but if it should happen that he belongs now, or might later belong, to the true church, I have already heard enough from him to warrant me in giving him immediately at least an.Exhorter's license. (Laughter.)
I did feel disturbed when the report from the Grand Lodge of Illinois was read in the upper room to know that while a good deal was said about the scholarship of the Grand Master, nothing whatever was said concerning the piety and the diligence of the Grand Chaplains of Massachusetts. When I noted that, I at once understood why the Most Worshipful Grand Master felt that reinforcements to the chaplaincy were highly necessary in this Grand Lodge.
I am likewise persuaded that this Most Worshipful Grand Master is not lacking in the sense of political science, because, note, he has among his Wardens doctors representing both schools, the allopathic and homoeopathic. He has likewise carefully selected two Chaplains from the Orthodox and two from the Liberal ranks — making his division again on allopathic and homoeopathic lines. (Laughter.)
I presume that he has increased the number of his Chaplains to four in order that the great word of Saint John the Evangelist might be fulfilled, wherein he writes, " Looking up, I beheld four great beasts." (Laughter.)
I have been asked to take, somewhat, the place that has been vacated by my distinguished predecessor, Bishop John W. Hamilton. As long as Bishop Hamilton and Chaplain Horton were here and Brothers Beal and Bush, we had the long and the short of it—so far as hair was concerned—in the chaplaincy of this Grand Lodge. (Laughter.) I am more and more persuaded that a great deal of the power of two of those Chaplains in the past has been due to what we might call "capillary attraction."
But I think it is a good thing, Most Worshipful Grand Master, for a Methodist Bishop once in a while to have to take an appointment himself. For nine years I have been appointing men. So far as I can now remember, apart from the great law-making body of the Church, this is the first time that I have received an appointment from any human being on earth in more than two decades, and I beg to thank you, my dear sir, for the appointment, as I beg to thank all these Brethren for the kindly greeting that has been extended to me tonight. One thing comforted me very greatly. You promised, Brother Keith, when you installed the Chaplains tonight, that you would do anything for them you could. Now, war time is on; shoes are very expensive, and I am the father of six children. [Laughter and Applause.] You will not think that I have been hinting at all in making that remark, but I simply drop it out for what it is worth, repeating again that Scripture about a "good understanding." (Laughter.)
Now, brethren, I have spoken in this somewhat facetious way for a few moments, because, strangely enough, tonight these laymen have been tremendously sober. I think that one of the things needed here is a jolly good preacher for just a little bit, to lift these clouds of war away from our spirits.
I had thought that, speaking in a vein of seriousness myself, I might say just a few simple words about our ancestry. I know that is a very delicate subject. When I suggested to Brother Gallagher, who was leading me down here, that his name sounded as if he were one of the Cardinal's disciples (laughter) I got him started all right. I have heard a great deal about the Gallaghers, particularly about the seven Gallaghers that have found their way into my own sacred profession. I do not want Brother Gallagher to think now that anything I am going to say has any direct reference to him, or is in the least degree personal. A long time ago one of our New England poets who has gone into an eclipse, but who may in due season come back into something of radiance again, John G. Saxe, wrote these words:
"Depend upon it, my snobbish friend,
Your family tree you can't ascend,
Without good reason to apprehend
You'll find it waxed at the other end
With some plebeian vocation;
Or, worse than that, your boasted Line
May end in a string of stronger twine,
That plagued some worthy relation!
I sometimes wonder if it is not possible for us to lay too much emphasis upon genealogical ancestry and not to lay enough emphasis upon what you might call spiritual ancestry.
We are gathered here tonight at what we call the Feast of Saint John, and we are tracing a sort of moral lineage back over the years to one of those men who a long time ago pulled his boat over the blue waves of an ancient lake, and began to follow the greatest character in history.
We drank a toast here at these tables, under the leadership of our Most Worshipful Grand Master, to the memory of Saint John. Who in this room has the least idea of the name of any genealogical or family ancestor who was living back in the first century of the Christian era? Our physical ancestors, if you please, are forgotten down over the years, but our spiritual ancestors are remembered. There are a great many Smiths in the world, but there are far more Lutherans. There are a great many Joneses in the world, but there are far more Wesleyans. Somehow, when the family trees vanish into oblivion, the spiritual ancestors loom up more and more through the ages. I do not know how many of you have ever had the privilege of meeting Chancellor James Roscoe Day, of Syracuse University, that perfectly mountainous man who came into collision a few years ago with Theodore Roosevelt, at that time President of the United States. Chancellor Day has a wife with a very remarkable ancestry, and he heard of it very often in his home. He therefore made up his mind he would get up an ancestry for himself, and it is wonderful what you can accomplish in that line if you will pay twenty-five dollars to a genealogical expert. Ancestry in the United States of America is very largely now passing into the control of a trust, known as the "Daughters of the American Revolution. (Laughter.)
So Dr. Day, in order that he might have wherewithal to defend himself and his family name, got hold of a genealogical expert, and one day that genealogical expert brought to him a wonderful ancestry. He traced him clear back to the time of the Saxon kings. The Chancellor, in his gleeful triumph, brought it in one evening after it had been fully completed and laid it down in his study before his wife's vision. She put on her glasses, studied it with great care for a few minutes, and finally looked at him and said, "Roscoe, if you will go just two generations farther back, you will strike Ananias. (Laughter.)
But when it comes to the great lines of moral and spiritual kings, it is the privilege of every man, bound down by a remorseless tree to a certain line of physical ancestry, to choose for himself grandly the men whose spiritual ancestry shall have their effect upon him in the present time. If we are to be the sons of the Puritans and the Pilgrims in these days, we well know what response shall be made as we face an even greater crisis than the one they faced when one hundred and one brave passengers came over in the Mayflower to found here upon these rocky shores a church without a bishop and a state without a king; and to leave the impression of their rugged and heroic characters upon every single item of our civilization. (Applause.)
If we are to be worthy of the men who laid the foundations of this republic, if we are to be the genuine descendants of the men who did not hesitate when Abraham Lincoln sounded his call, but who made their response, "We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand strong," and then went forward to pour that red, pathetic stream of reconciliation upon our country's altar, then there is only one course for us to take in this tragic period.
I do not wonder that it took so long a time to shake us free from that wonderful counsel that George Washington gave us, when he advised us by all that was good in our national life to keep free from entangling alliances with European monarchies. I do not wonder that it took so long for us to see clearly our duty with reference to that whole matter. After all, I never have particularly relished anything that resembled the attitude of the English people towards us in that particular matter. We had our battle in the sixties; we were fighting for our lives. There was a great right on one side of that struggle, and a great wrong on the other side of the struggle. I have not heard of any particular help that was given to us in that day, when we were making that terrible fight, even for our national existence. Was it not necessary for us to send over the seas a man by the name of Henry Ward Beecher, who had to stand an hour before the people who believed that cotton was king would give him a chance to say a sentence in that great matter?
If France ought to get back Alsace and Lorraine now, then when Alsace and Lorraine were taken away from France, in 1871, if we should enter struggles on the basis of right and wrong, it might have been a fine and ethical thing for England to have taken a little hand in that struggle at that time.
I know that is not particularly welcome history. I am not putting it out in the way of particular blame on England. But it helps us to understand how a great nation, whose first President gave the advice he did about entering into entangling alliances, might well have hesitated a long, long time before it felt sure the duty to engage in any question involved in English politics. In due season the American conscience came to the front, and the American army began its great preparations, and, God helping us, we will see it through. (Applause.)
It is a great thing that as we enter upon a struggle of this kind we can very well feel that the thing for which we fight is a thing for which our spiritual and political ancestry stood along all the line of our own history, and that we are not going back on anything for which the American republic has been standing, from the very time when we adopted our Declaration of Independence and finally took unto ourselves a Constitution as a separate people upon the face of this earth.
I do not know whether I am unduly American or not. All of my ancestors, so far as I know them, were born in what is now the United States of America. For myself, I do not hesitate to say this, that I am crowded with Americanism, and I ought not to claim any credit for it, for it is born in me. When a man said to me a few years ago that the American flag was the gaudiest and least artistic emblem among all the flags of the nations, I almost wished for a moment that I was not a preacher! I know very well, if you should bring all the artists in the United States of America here tonight and have them swear that the American flag was the least artistic, I would not pay a particle of attention to their testimony. I would rule them out as absolutely unreliable and untrustworthy witnesses, for I know in my heart of hearts that it is simply the most beautiful flag to be found anywhere on the face of the globe. (Applause.)
I was in England a few years ago, and I was in Switzerland. This is as good a chance as I am going to have to let the members of the Grand Lodge know that I have been abroad. I was at Zurich, and I fell in with a clergyman from England. I will not state his denomination; a very nice fellow, but condescending! Condescending to me personally; condescending to my ecclesiastical standing; condescending to my country. I got on well so far as the personal element was concerned, and was rather amused by the way he was enjoying himself. I did not mind so much what he said about ecclesiastics, for I knew better. But when he condescended to the United States of America, he simply stirred up all the carnal remains that were abiding in my nature, and I had difficulty in keeping my patience. One morning, when he said some particularly condescending thing I said to him, "Have you ever visited my country, sir?" he tossed his head back superciliously and said to me, "Oh, no. You have no sights in America except Niagara Falls." "Well," I said to him, "we have Bunker Hill Monument. I thought at the time it was rather bright and I have never repented. (Laughter.)
It is a very proud thing that here in the dawning days of the twentieth century God has given us a chance, without claiming a foot of land that belongs to any other nation, to drive Turkey out of Europe, so that nevermore shall she have her beastly power to massacre the poor Armenians as she has done in the past.
It is a proud time in the history of our Country when we shall be permitted to say directly to the German Emperor, "This war shall not cease until you have expiated your frightful outrages against the people of Belgium, and until that treaty, destroyed and treated as a scrap of paper, is so restored as to demand from you full reparation for the wrongs you have inflicted upon that innocent and worthy and great people. The consciences of the just nations of this earth will be satisfied with nothing less than that."
I did not intend to speak so strongly or get so stirred up with reference to this particular matter, and thought on the occasion of my first appearance as one of your Grand Chaplains I would be particularly decorous and very quiet and conversational in my type of delivery. I find I have absolutely forgotten all about those rules that I had established for myself.
Like Brother Beal, I have two boys in the war. [Applause.] One of them is in France. He is living in the upper part of a barn somewhere over there. His last letter told us his rest had been greatly disturbed the night before because the horse that was quartered immediately beneath him spent the night in eating icicles!
Our sons may return or they may not. But whatever may be the sacrifices that are demanded, I believe that God at the end of this whole struggle will give us a chance to put a new meaning into that wonderful apostrophe, written long ago by James Russell Lowell, to
"Oh beautiful, my country, ours once more,
Smoothing thy gold of war-dishevelled hair
O'er such sweet brows as never other wore;
And letting thy set lips, Freed from wrath's pale eclipse,
The rosy edges of their smile lay bare!
What words divine of lover or of poet
Could tell our love and make thee know it —
Among the nations bright beyond compare?
What were our lives without thee?
What all our lives to save thee?
We reck not what we gave thee,
We will not dare to doubt thee,
But ask whatever else, and we will dare."