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Black Religious Leaders Who Participated in Meeting with Union Officers

On January 12, 1865, twenty African-American religious leaders met with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Union Major-General William T. Sherman, who was then in the midst of conquering the southeastern portion of the Confederacy. Union officers recorded biographical information on each man present. The New York Tribune, a radical Republican newspaper that supported abolition, published this list and the minutes of the meeting a month later.

One:  William J. Campbell, aged 51 years, born in Savannah, slave until 1849, and then liberated by will of his mistress...For 10 years pastor of the 1st Baptist Church of Savannah, numbering about 1,800 members...The church property belonging to the congregation.  Trustees white.  Worth $18,000.

Two:  John Cox, aged 58 years, born in Savannah; slave until 1849, when he bought his freedom for $1,100.  Pastor of the 2d African Baptist Church.  In the ministry 15 years.  Congregation 1,222 persons.  Church property worth $10,000, belonging to the congregation.

Three:  Ulysses L. Houston, aged 41 years, born in Grahamsville, S.C.; slave until the Union army entered Savannah.  Owned by Moses Henderson, Savannah, and pastor of Third African Baptist Church.  Congregation numbering 400.  Church property worth $5,000; belongs to congregation.  In the ministry about 8 years.

Four:  William Bentley, aged 72 years, born in Savannah, slave until 25 years of age, when his master, John Waters, emancipated him by will.  Pastor of Andrew's Chapel, Methodist Episcopal Church...congregation numbering 360 members; church property worth about $20,000, and is owned by the congregation; been in the ministry about 20 years...

Five:  Charles Bradwell, aged 40 years, born in Liberty County, Ga.; slave until 1851; emancipated by will of his master, J. L. Bradwell.  Local preacher in charge of the Methodist Episcopal congregation (Andrew's Chapel) in the absence of the minister; in the ministry 10 years.

Six:  William Gaines, aged 41 years; born in Wills Co., Ga.  Slave until the Union forces freed me.  Owned by Robert Toombs, formerly United States Senator, and his brother, Gabriel Toombs, local preacher of the M.E. Church (Andrew's Chapel.)  In the ministry 16 years.

Seven:  James Hill, aged 52 years; born in Bryan Co., Ga.  Slave up to the time the Union army came in.  Owned by H. F. Willings, of Savannah.  In the ministry 16 years.

Eight:  Glasgon Taylor, aged 72 years, born in Wilkes County, Ga.  Slave until the Union army came; owned by A. P. Wetter.  Is a local preacher of the M.E. Church...In the ministry 35 years.

Nine:  Garrison Frazier, aged 67 years, born in Granville County, N.C.  Slave until eight years ago, when he bought himself and wife, paying $1,000 in gold and silver.  Is an ordained minister in the Baptist Church, but, his health failing, has now charge of no congregation.  Has been in the ministry 35 years.

Ten:  James Mills, aged 56 years, born in Savannah; free-born, and is a licensed preacher of the first Baptist Church.  Has been eight years in the ministry.

Eleven:  Abraham Burke, aged 48 years, born in Bryan County, Ga.  Slave until 20 years ago, when he bought himself for $800.  Has been in the ministry about 10 years.

Twelve:  Arthur Wardell, aged 44 years, born in Liberty County, Ga.  Slave until freed by the Union army.  Owned by A. A. Solomons, Savannah, and is a licensed minister in the Baptist Church.  Has been in the ministry 6 years.

Thirteen:  Alexander Harris, aged 47 years, born in Savannah; free born.  Licensed minister of Third African Baptist Church.  Licensed about one month ago.

Fourteen:  Andrew Neal, aged 61 years, born in Savannah, slave until the Union army liberated him.  Owned by Mr. Wm. Gibbons, and has been deacon in the Third Baptist Church for 10 years.

Fifteen:  Jas. Porter, aged 39 years, born in Charleston, South Carolina; free-born, his mother having purchased her freedom.  Is lay-reader and president of the board...of St. Stephen's Protestant Episcopal Colored Church in Savannah.  Has been in communion 9 years.  The congregation numbers about 200 persons.  The church property is worth about $10,000, and is owned by the congregation.

Sixteen:  Adolphus Delmotte, aged 28 years, born in Savannah; free born.  Is a licensed minister of the Missionary Baptist Church of Milledgeville.  Congregation numbering about 300 or 400 persons.  Has been in the ministry about two years.

Seventeen:  Jacob Godfrey, aged 57 years, born in Marion, S.C.  Slave until the Union army freed me; owned by James E. Godfrey–Methodist preacher now in the Rebel army.  Is a class-leader and steward of Andrew's Chapel since 1836.

Eighteen:  John Johnson, aged 51 years, born in Bryan County, Ga.  Slave up to the time the Union army came here; owned by W. W. Lincoln of Savannah.  Is...treasurer of Andrew's Chapel for sixteen years.

Nineteen:  Robt. N. Taylor, aged 51 years, born in Wilkes Co., Ga.  Slave to the time the Union army came.  Was owned by Augustus P. Welter, Savannah, and is class-leader in Andrew's Chapel for 9 years.

Twenty:  Jas. Lynch, aged 26 years, born in Baltimore, Md.; free-born.  Is presiding elder of the M.E. Church...Has been seven years in the ministry and two years in the South.

Source | "Negroes of Savannah" New-York Daily Tribune, 13 February 1865, Consolidated Correspondence File, ser. 225, Central Records, Quartermaster General, Record Group 92, National Archives; from Freedmen and Southern Society Project, http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/savmtg.htm.
Creator | New York Tribune
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | New York Tribune, “Black Religious Leaders Who Participated in Meeting with Union Officers,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 21, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/937.

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