B. Civil War

Divisions on Race and the Civil War

Georgetown 1862


Many Blacks Leave. African-Americans, some of them held in bondage by white members, were seated in the balcony of the church in the antebellum era.   But many of the black members split off to form Mount Zion Church in 1813, while others continued to attend Dumbarton, which constructed the current building in 1849.  When Civil War broke out, the Dumbarton congregation was deeply divided, contributing soldiers to both sides.

History signWar’s Effect. After the First Manassas Civil War battle, the church was converted to a hospital as thousands of casualties streamed into the city. During the war, President Abraham Lincoln visited Dumbarton for the service rededicating the church, and his pew is now engraved with the words “The Pastor.” He was said to be "much affected by the sermon, being moved to tears." As for slaveowners, many of them were compensated by the District of Columbia for freeing their slaves by the DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862.

After the war Dumbarton United Methodist Church continued to serve residents of Georgetown, but in 1871 Georgetown ceased to exist as a separate city and became part of Washington, DC.  In 1895 the identity of Georgetown was further obliterated by the renaming of streets to fit the DC system of giving streets number or letter designations. Dumbarton Street, however, remained proudly as Dumbarton Street.  And in 1898 Dumbarton United Methodist Church remodeled its building into the form seen today.