Celebrating Black History Month: The Rev. Francis J. Grimke

“Washington is a hard training ground for preachers.”

This quote probably remains as accurate today as it was 100 years ago when it was made by famous black pastor Francis James Grimké. 1

Grimké was born to a slave mother in South Carolina in 1850. When his guardian tried to sell him into slavery, he escaped and served as a valet in the Confederate Army. He was taken hostage and almost died, but was nursed back to health by his mother only to be sold into slavery to a Confederate officer, spending the rest of the Civil War as a slave. 2

When emancipation was finally achieved, Francis first attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and then graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary as an ordained Presbyterian minister,  3 becoming pastor of Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D. C. 4 As famous black historian Carter Woodson reported, his ministry had a definite impact:

During the first years of the ministry of Mr. Grimké, which began in the spring of 1878, there was a great spiritual awakening as the result of his forceful preaching. 5

Grimké pastored this church for almost 50 years,6 and during one of his sermons, he reminded his congregation:

It is now no longer a question as to whether we are a nation, or a confederation of sovereign and independent states. That question is settled, and settled once for all by the issue [outcome] of the [Civil] War. …The Stars and Stripes, the old flag, will float, as long as it floats, over all these states, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Lakes to the Gulf. If the time ever comes when we shall go to pieces, it will not be form any desire or disposition on the part of the states to pull apart, but from inward corruption — from the disregard of right principles, from the spirit of greed, from the narrowing lust of gold, from losing sight of the fact that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but that sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. It is here where our real danger lies – not in the secession of the States from the Union, but in the secession of the Union itself from the great and immutable principles of right, of justice, of fair play for all regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.7

This same principle applies to America today. Let us remember to seriously regard the warning issued by Rev. Grimké and to continue to walk in those “immutable principles of right” that are found in the Holy Scriptures.


1 William H. Ferris, The African Abroad (New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1913), 2:889.
2 William J. Simmons, Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive, and Rising (Cleveland: Geo. M. Rewell & Co., 1887), 608-609.
3 “Grimke, Francis J.,” Who’s who of the Colored Race: A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent, ed. Frank Lincoln Mather (Chicago, 1915), 1:125.
4 Simmons, Men of Mark (1887), 610.
5 The Journal of Negro History, ed. Carter G. Woodson (Lancaster, PA: The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, Inc., 1922), 7:81.
6 Dictionary of American Negro Biography, s.v. “Grimke, Francis James.”
7 Rev. Francis J. Grimke, from “Equality of Right for All Citizens, Black and White, Alike,” March 7, 1909, Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence, ed. Alice Moore Dunbar (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2000), 246.

Black History Issue 1998

Honoring Godly Heroes

America’s Godly heritage has been under assault in recent years. Secularist spokesmen claim that America was created as a secular nation by secular individuals who intended that it always remain secular. These individuals understand that by destroying the knowledge of America’s religious heritage, it is easier to persuade subsequent generations to embrace secularism. Interestingly, this religious cleansing has no racial boundaries. An examination of the individuals often honored during February’s “Black History Month” (celebrated nationally since 1976) shows that the secularization of America’s history

Is directed against all Godly heroes, no matter their skin color. Therefore, to introduce Americans to little-known heroes, this WallBuilder Report will honor three famous Godly Black Americans all but ignored by today’s secularists: Benjamin Banneker, Phillis Wheatley, and Richard Allen.

Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker was born a free Black on a tobacco plantation near Baltimore in 1731. Although he received little formal education (his grandmother taught him to read), this was no handicap to a man with his work ethic and his intense desire to learn. In fact, his life was characterized by his passion for knowledge.

For example, in his early twenties, after studying the workings of a pocket watch, Banneker built a perfectly operating wooden clock that even struck on the hour! Although he loved to read, he was in his thirties before he was able to purchase his first book – a Bible (Banneker frequented the meetings of the Quakers throughout his life). By the time he was in his fifties, he had so completely mastered the science of astronomy through self-study that he was even able to point out errors in several noted scientific works of the day. And when he was in his sixties, because of his fame and reputation, he was picked as one of seven surveyors to lay out the District of Columbia – the new capitol city.

In the early 1790s, Banneker began to publish an almanac for Maryland and neighboring states. His work was in high demand because of his accurate predictions for sunsets, sunrises, eclipses, weather conditions, and even for his calculation of the recurrence of locust plagues in seventeen year cycles. At his death in 1806, he had actually lived eight years longer than he had calculated, and this is often referred to as the only time he made a mistake in his calculations! The knowledge he acquired by his study of the heavens earned him the title of “Star Gazer.”

Of all of Banneker’s writings, one of his most notable was a 1791 letter to Secretary-of-State Thomas Jefferson:

Sir, I am fully sensible of the greatness of the freedom I take with you on the present occasion; a liberty which seemed scarcely allowable when I reflect on that distinguished and dignifed station in which you stand, and the almost general prejudice which is so prevalent in the world against those of my complexion. . . .

I hope I may safely admit, in consequence of the report which has reached me, that you are a man far less inflexible in sentiments of this nature than many others; that you are measurably friendly and well-disposed towards us; and that you are willing to lend your aid and assistance for our relief. . . .

[Y]our sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are that one universal Father hath given being to us all; that He hath . . . made us all of one flesh . . . and that however variable we may be in society or religion, however diversified in situation or in color, we are all of the same family and stand in the same relation to Him. . . .

[I]t is the indispensable duty of those who . . . profess the obligations of Christianity, to extend their powers and influence to the relief of every part of the human race from whatever burden or oppression they may unjustly labor under. . . .

I freely and cheerfully acknowledge that I am of the African race, and in that color which is natural to them, of the deepest dye. . . .

[There] was a time when you clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery, and. . . . your abhorrence thereof was so excited that you publicly held forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” . . .

I . . . recommend to you and all others to wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed with respect to [my brethren], and as Job proposed to his friends, “put your soul in their soul’s stead” [Job 16:4]; thus shall your hearts be enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards them. . . .

Your most obedient humble servant, Benjamin Banneker

Jefferson responded to Banneker, telling him that “Nobody wishes more than I do to seek such proofs as you exhibit – that nature has given to our Black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men.”

This wish by Jefferson became reality, for Benjamin Banneker – both during his life and after his death – was held forth as a shining example of the intellectual capacity and the moral uprightness of Blacks, something which was long denied by the pro-slavery advocates of that day.

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley was born in Senegal, Africa, in 1753. She was kidnapped at the age of eight and sent on a slave ship to Boston. Purchased by a prosperous Boston tailor, John Wheatley, she was trained as a personal servant for John’s wife, Susannah.

Phillis was quick and perceptive, and Susannah and her daughter Mary were drawn in a special manner to Phillis. Susannah considered Phillis a daughter, and Mary treated her like a sister. Both tutored her in the
Scriptures and in morals, and within sixteen months Phillis had so mastered English that she was able to read the most difficult parts of the Bible with ease. Mary then taught Phillis astronomy, geography, ancient history, the Latin classics, and the English poets, all of which Phillis conquered with equal ease. Because of her aptitude for difficult knowledge and her ability as a brilliant conversationalist, Phillis was considered by the Bostonian intellectuals to be a child prodigy.

When she was only thirteen years old, Phillis wrote her first poetic verses; and then three years later, being an admirer of the celebrated Rev. George Whitefield, she authored a special poem about his life. This early interest in poetry continued for the rest of her life, and today Phillis is known as America’s first Black female poet.

In 1771, Phillis became a member of the famous Old South Church. It was later said that “her membership in Old South was an exception to the rule that slaves were not baptized into the church.”

In 1773, her health began to fail. A sea-voyage was recommended, and Mrs. Wheatley promptly saw to it that Phillis was manumitted (freed). Phillis traveled to England, where she was received by British royalty. While abroad, she published her first collection of poems, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

In 1775, while still abroad, and while the siege of Boston was underway in America, Phillis wrote a letter to the new Commander-in-Chief, General Washington, containing a special poem she had written for him:

His Excellency George Washington . . . Thee, first in place and honors, – we demand
The grace and glory of thy martial band Fam’d for thy valor, for thy virtues more, Here every tongue thy guardian aid implore! . . . Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side, Thy every action let the goddess guide. A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, With gold unfading, Washington, be thine. . . .

Washington was touched by the poem; and when Phillis returned to America, Washington invited her to his military camp at Cambridge to honor her before his staff.

Phillis had returned to America when she had learned of the declining health of Mrs. Wheatley, who died shortly after her return. Phillis remained close to the family. She continued her writings and purposed to bring out a second volume of poems to be dedicated to Benjamin Franklin. Misfortune, however, intervened.

In 1778, Phillis married John Peters, a free Black. Although he appeared promising (he was a writer and had studied for the law), his character was deeply flawed: he was slothful, did not provide for his new wife, and failed to give her the care that her delicate health required. He also demanded that she isolate herself from her former friends and even required that she cut off all contact with the Wheatleys. Peters finally deserted Phillis.

Under these circumstances, and only five years after her marriage, Phillis died in obscurity at the age of 30, alone and in poverty, buried in an unmarked grave. Of her three children, two died in infancy, and the third was buried alongside her.

Despite the hardships in her life, Phillis never complained. In fact, she found a silver lining – or rather a Divine one – even in her tragic life of slavery. In her poem, “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” she wrote:

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Savior too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our fable race with scornful eye, “Their color is a diabolic dye.” Remember, Christians, Negroes black as Cain, May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.

Phillis’ poetry was popular for generations after her death, and she was considered a heroine by those who fought to end slavery. She remains a shining example of a devout Christian, an accomplished poet, and a gracious and kind woman.

Richard Allen

Richard Allen was born as a slave to Benjamin Chew​ in Philadelphia in 1760. While still a youngster, he was sold to a farmer in Delaware. Allen was converted to Christianity by the preaching of the Methodists. His owner (known in Allen’s autobiography as “Stokeley”) was so impressed with Richard’s Godly lifestyle that he permitted the young Allen to conduct services in his home. In fact, Stokeley himself was converted during one of these services, after which he made it possible for Allen to purchase his freedom.

Allen traveled throughout eastern Pennsylvania and neighboring states, using every opportunity to preach the Gospel to both Whites and Blacks. At the meeting of the first general conference of the Methodist Church in Baltimore in 1784, Allen was accepted as a minister.

Allen began to preach regularly at the St. George Methodist Church in Philadelphia. He suggested that Blacks should have a separate place of worship apart from Whites; and although his suggestion was at first resisted, his forceful preaching attracted such a vast number of Blacks to the church that when objections were raised, Allen’s idea of a separate congregation was finally accepted.

In 1787, Allen led in the establishment of an organization known as the “Free African Society,” composed of both Black Methodists and Black Episcopalians. Black churches in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland began to separate from traditional denominations to join this loose-knit society. In 1816, these independent churches merged to become the “Africa Methodist Episcopal Church” (the A. M. E. Church); Allen was chosen as its First bishop.

Allen ministered not only to the spiritual needs of his fellow man, but to his temporal needs as well. For example, when the yellow-fever epidemic ravaged Philadelphia in 1793 (killing over four thousand of the forty-thousand inhabitants), nearly all medical doctors fled the city to save their own lives. One of the few who remained was Dr. Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration). Richard Allen worked shoulder to shoulder as a medic with Dr. Rush throughout the danger to aid countless victims in whatever way he could.

In 1794, the year following the epidemic, Allen wrote a compelling work documenting his service during that tragedy: A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia. Allen’s humanitarian service ranks with the most heroic deeds of America’s history.

Allen urged others to humanitarian service whenever possible and in whatever cause. On one occasion, he charged his audience:

Consider, my brethren, that all we have and are is entrusted to us by Almighty God. . . . and to Him we must give an account at the great day of reckoning. . . . Our blessed Lord has not committed His goods to us as a dead stock, to be hoarded up, or to lie unprofitably in our own hands. He expects that we shall put them out to proper and beneficial uses, and raise them to an advanced value by doing good with them as often as we have opportunity.

Allen’s faith shone through in all of his accomplishments, and he openly proclaimed his gratefulness to God:

I believe it is my greatest honor and happiness to be Thy disciple; how miserable and blind are those that live without God in the world, who despise the light of Thy holy faith. Make me to part with all the enjoyments of life; nay, even life itself, rather than forfeit this jewel of great price.

When Allen died in 1831, it was said that the crowd which gathered to honor him “exceeded anything of the kind ever before witnessed in the country.” Richard Allen was described as “a man of deep piety, the strictest integrity, and indomitable perseverance; and his moral influence was unbounded.”


America’s Godly heritage encompasses heroes from many races – a fact both we and our children, regardless of our ethnic roots, must understand. The book of Revelation affirms this fact when it declares:

There was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne. . . . They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God!” Revelation 7:9, 10

The universal truth of Psalm 144:15 has been proven by every historical age and should be remembered at all times – including Black History Month – that “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord!”

Black History Issue 2003

A black civil rights leader recently told an assembly at Michigan State University that American democracy was only decades old rather than centuries- that not until the 1965 Voting Rights Act when blacks could vote did democracy truly begin. [1]

Such a declaration does not accurately portray the history of black voting in America nor does it honor the thousands of blacks who sacrificed their lives obtaining the right to vote and who exercised that right as long as two centuries ago. In fact, most today are completely unaware that it was not Democrats but was actually Republicans-” like the seven pictured on the front cover-” who not only helped achieve the passage of explicit constitutional voting rights for blacks in 1870 but who also held hundreds of elected offices during the 1800s. [2]

Black Voting in the 1700s

Acknowledgment that blacks voted long before the 1965 Voting Rights Act was provided in the infamous 1856 Dred Scott decision in which a Democratic-controlled US Supreme Court observed that blacks “had no rights which a white man was bound to respect; and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.” [3] Non-Democrat Justice Benjamin R. Curtis, one of only two on the Court who dissented in that opinion, provided a lengthy documentary history to show that many blacks in America had often exercised the rights of citizens-” that many at the time of the American Revolution “possessed the franchise of [voters] on equal terms with other citizens.” [4]

State constitutions protecting voting rights for blacks included those of Delaware (1776), [5] Maryland (1776), [6] New Hampshire (1784), [7] and New York (1777). [8] (Constitution signer Rufus King declared that in New York, “a citizen of color was entitled to all the privileges of a citizen. . . . [and] entitled to vote.”) [9] Pennsylvania also extended such rights in her 1776 constitution, [10] as did Massachusetts in her 1780 constitution. [11] In fact, nearly a century later in 1874, US Rep. Robert Brown Elliott (a black Republican from SC) queried: “When did Massachusetts sully her proud record by placing on her statute-book any law which admitted to the ballot the white man and shut out the black man? She has never done it; she will not do it.” [12]

As a result of these provisions, early American towns such as Baltimore had more blacks than whites voting in elections; [13] and when the proposed US Constitution was placed before citizens in 1787 and 1788, it was ratified by both black and white voters in a number of States. [14]

This is not to imply that all blacks were allowed to vote; free blacks could vote (except in South Carolina) but slaves were not permitted to vote in any State. Yet in many States this was not an issue, for many worked to end slavery during and after the American Revolution. Although Great Britain had prohibited the abolition of slavery in the Colonies before the Revolution, [15] as independent States they were free to end slavery-” as occurred in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. [16] Additionally, blacks in many early States not only had the right to vote but also the right to hold office. [17]

Congressional Actions

In the early years of the Republic, the federal Congress also moved toward ending slavery and thus toward achieving voting rights for all blacks, not just free blacks. For example, in 1789 Congress banned slavery in any federally held territory; in 1794, [18] the exportation of slaves from any State was banned; [19] and in 1808, the importation of slaves into any State was also banned. [20] In fact, more progress was made to end slavery and achieve civil rights for blacks in America at that time than was made in any other nation in the world. [21]

In 1820, however, following the death of most of the Founding Fathers, a new generation of leaders in Congress halted and reversed this early progress through acts such as the Missouri Compromise, which permitted the admission of new slave-holding States. [22] This policy was loudly lamented and strenuously opposed by the few Founders remaining alive. Elias Boudinot-” a president of Congress during the Revolution-” warned that this new direction by Congress would bring “an end to the happiness of the United States.” [23] A frail John Adams feared that lifting the slavery prohibition would destroy America; [24] and an elderly Jefferson was appalled at the proposal, declaring, “In the gloomiest moment of the Revolutionary War, I never had any apprehensions equal to what I feel from this source.” [25] Congress also enacted the Fugitive Slave Law allowing southern slavers to go North and kidnap blacks on the spurious claim that they were runaway slaves [26] and then passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, allowing slavery into what is now Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska. [27]

This new anti-civil rights attitude in Congress was also reflected in many of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. For example, in 1835 North Carolina reversed its policies and limited voting to whites only, [28] as also occurred in Maryland in 1809. [29]

Political Parties

The Democratic Party had become the dominant political party in America in the 1820s, [30] and in May 1854, in response to the strong pro-slavery positions of the Democrats, several anti-slavery Members of Congress formed an anti-slavery party-” the Republican Party. [31] It was founded upon the principles of equality originally set forth in the governing documents of the Republic. In an 1865 publication documenting the history of black voting rights, Philadelphia attorney John Hancock confirmed that the Declaration of Independence set forth “equal rights to all. It contains not a word nor a clause regarding color. Nor is there any provision of the kind to be found in the Constitution of the United States.” [32]

The original Republican platform in 1856 had only nine planks-” six of which were dedicated to ending slavery and securing equal rights for African-Americans. [33] The Democratic platform of that year took an opposite position and defended slavery, even warning that “all efforts of the abolitionists [those opposed to slavery]. . . are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences and . . . diminish the happiness of the people and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union.” [34] The next Democratic platform (1860) endorsed both the Fugitive Slave Law and the Dred Scott decision; [35] Democrats even distributed copies of the Dred Scott ruling to justify their anti-black positions. [36]

Specific Constitutional Rights for African-Americans

When Abraham Lincoln was elected the first Republican President in 1861 (along with the first ever Republican Congress), southern pro-slavery Democrats saw the handwriting on the wall. They left the Union and took their States with them, forming a brand new nation: the Confederate States of America, and their followers became known as Rebels. During the War, Lincoln implemented the first anti-slavery measures since the early Republic: in 1862, he abolished slavery in Washington, DC; [37] in 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, ordering slaves to be freed in southern States that had not already done so; [38] in 1864, he signed several early civil rights bills; [39] etc. After the war ended in 1865, the Republican Congress passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery and the 14th Amendment providing full civil rights for all blacks, thus fulfilling the original promise of the Declaration of Independence.

Most southern States ignored these new Amendments. [40] Congress therefore insisted that the southern States ratify and implement these Amendments before they could be readmitted into the United States. [41]

Until their readmission, the civil rights of the Rebels in the South-” including their right to vote in elections-” were suspended. [42] The Constitution authorizes that certain civil rights may be suspended “in cases of rebellion” or when “the public safety may require it” (Art. I, Sec. 9, cl. 2). In fact, because the Rebels had taken up arms against their own nation-” an act of treason according to the Constitution (“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them . . .” Art. III, Sec. 3, cl. 1), they could have been executed (Art. III, Sec. 3, cl. 2). Instead, amnesty was granted to the Rebels if they took an oath of fidelity to the United States, which most eventually did. (Regrettably, after their readmission, and after Democrats regained the State legislatures from Republicans, those States worked aggressively to circumvent the 14th Amendment in violation of the pledge [43] they had taken.)

Because the Rebels (who had almost exclusively been Democrats) were not allowed to vote in the early parts of Reconstruction, Republicans became the political majority in the South; and since nearly every African-American was a Republican and could now vote, most southern legislatures-” at least for a few years-” became Republican and included many black legislators. In Texas, 42 blacks were elected to the State Legislature, [44] 50 to the South Carolina Legislature, [45] 127 to Louisiana’s, [46] 99 to Alabama’s, [47] etc.-” all as Republicans. These Republican legislatures moved quickly to protect voting rights for blacks, prohibit segregation, establish public education, and open public transportation, State police, juries, and other institutions to blacks. [48] (It is noteworthy that the blacks serving both in the federal and State legislatures during that time forgivingly voted for amnesty for the Rebels. [49])

During the time when most southern Democrats had not yet signed the oath of fidelity to the United States and therefore could not vote, they still found ways to intimidate and keep blacks from voting. For example, in 1865-1866, the Ku Klux Klan was formed by Democrats to overthrow Republicans and pave the way for Democrats to regain control [50]-” as when Democrats attacked the State Republican Convention in Louisiana in 1866, killing 40 blacks, 20 whites, and wounding 150 others. [51] In addition to the use of force, southern Democrats also relied on absurd technicalities to limit blacks. In Georgia, 28 black legislators were elected as Republicans, but Democratic officials decided that even though blacks had the right to vote in Georgia, they did not have the right to hold office; the 28 black members were therefore expelled. [52]

Because of such blatant attempts to nullify the guarantees of the 14th Amendment, the Republican Congress passed the 15th Amendment to give explicit voting rights to African-Americans. Significantly, not one of the 56 Democrats serving in Congress at that time voted for the 15th Amendment. [53]

Democratic Efforts to Limit Voting Rights for Blacks

During Reconstruction (1865-1877), Republicans passed four federal civil rights bills to protect the rights of African-Americans, the fourth being passed in 1875. [54] It was nearly a century before the next civil rights bill was passed, because in 1876 Democrats regained partial control of Congress and successfully blocked further progress. As Democrats regained control of the legislatures in southern States, they began to repeal State civil rights protections and to abrogate existing federal civil rights laws. As African-American US Rep. John Roy Lynch (MS) noted, “The opposition to civil rights in the South is confined almost exclusively to States under democratic control . . .” [55]

Devious and cunning methods were required to circumvent the explicit voting protections of the 14th and 15th Amendments, and southern Democrats implemented nearly a dozen separate devices to prevent blacks from voting, including:

  • Poll taxes

  • Literacy tests

  • “Grandfather” clauses

  • Suppressive election procedures

  • Black codes and enforced segregation

  • Bizarre gerrymandering

  • White-only primaries

  • Physical intimidation and violence

  • Restrictive eligibility requirements

  • Rewriting of State constitutions

1. The poll tax

The poll tax was a fee paid by a voter before he could vote. The fee was high enough that most poor were unable to pay the tax and therefore unable to vote. Although the poll tax affected both whites and blacks, it was disproportionately hard on blacks who were just emerging from slavery, many of whom had not yet established an independent means of living. A poll tax was first proposed in Texas in 1874, right after Democrats reclaimed power from the Republicans, [56] but it was North Carolina in 1876 that became the first State to enact a poll tax, [57] and other southern States quickly followed. [58]

2. Literacy tests

Literacy tests required a voter to demonstrate a certain level of learning proficiency before he could vote. In some cases, the test was 20 pages long for blacks, and those administering the tests were white Democrats who nearly always ruled that blacks were illiterate. In Alabama, the test included questions such as, “Where do presidential electors cast ballots for president?” “Name the rights a person has after he has been indicted by a grand jury.” [59] Democrats required blacks to have an above average education before they could vote but then simultaneously opposed black education and even worked with the Ku Klux Klan to burn down schools attended by blacks. [60] Clearly, they did not intend for blacks to vote.

3. “Grandfather” clauses

“Grandfather” clauses were laws passed by Democratic legislatures allowing an individual to vote if his father or grandfather had been registered to vote prior to the passage of the 15th Amendment. [61] Since voting in the South prior to the 15th Amendment was almost completely by whites, this law ensured that poor and illiterate whites, but not blacks, could vote.

4. Suppressive election procedures

Some election procedures (such as “multiple ballots”) were intentionally made complex and misleading. For example, a Republican voter might be required to cast a ballot in up to eight separate locations-” or sometimes to cast a vote for each Republican on the ballot at a separate location-” before the ballot would be counted. Democratic officials, however, often failed to inform black voters of this complicated procedure and their ballots were therefore disqualified. [62]

5. Black codes and enforced segregation

Black Codes (later called Jim Crow laws) restricted the freedoms and economic opportunities of blacks. For example, in the four years from 1865-1869, southern Democrats passed “Black Codes” to prohibit blacks from voting, holding office, owning property, entering towns without permission, serving on juries, or racially intermarrying. [63]

National observers at that time concluded that the South was simply trying to institute a new form of slavery through these Black Codes. [64] This tactic was obvious to African-Americans, thus causing black US Rep. Joseph H. Rainey (Republican from SC) to quip: “I can only say that we love freedom more-” vastly more-” than slavery; consequently we hope to keep clear of the Democrats!” [65]

Southern Democrats went well beyond Black Codes, however, and also imposed forced racial segregation. In 1875, Tennessee became the first State to do so, [66] and by 1890 several other southern States had followed. [67] As a result, schools, hospitals, public transportation, restaurants, etc., became segregated. (Even though the Republican Congress had already passed laws banning segregation, the US Supreme Court struck down those anti-segregation laws in a series of decisions in the 1870s and 1880s. [68])

6. Bizarre gerrymandering

Once the Democrats regained State legislatures at the end of Reconstruction, they began to redraw election lines to make it impossible for Republicans to be elected, thereby preventing blacks from being elected. [69] For example, although many blacks were elected as Republicans in Texas during Reconstruction, when the last African-American left the State House in 1897, none was elected (either as a Republican or a Democrat) for the next 70 years until federal courts ordered a change in the way Texas Democrats drew voting lines. [70] Furthermore, although Republicans had been an overwhelming majority in the State legislature during Reconstruction, after Democrats redrew election lines, for several decades there were never more than two Republicans serving in the House nor one in the Senate. [71] This pattern was typical in other southern States as well.

7. White-only primaries

Another way Democrats could keep blacks from being elected was by enacting Democratic Party policies prohibiting blacks from voting in their primaries. When Texas later codified this policy into State law, the US Supreme Court struck down that Texas law in 1927, [72] but not the party policies. The Democratic Parties in Georgia, [73] Louisiana, [74] Florida, [75] Mississippi, [76] South Carolina, [77] etc., therefore continued their reliance on white-only primaries. Because Democrats solidly controlled every level of government in the South (often called the “solid Democratic South” [78]), this policy had the same effect as a State law and again ensured that no black would be elected. In 1935, the Supreme Court upheld this Democratic policy [79] but then reversed itself and finally struck it down in 1944. [80]

8. Physical intimidation and violence

In 1871, black US Rep. Robert Brown Elliott (Republican from SC) observed that: “the declared purpose [of the Democratic party is] to defeat the ballot with the bullet and other coercive means. . . . The white Republican of the South is also hunted down and murdered or scourged for his opinion’s sake, and during the past two years more than six hundred loyal [Republican] men of both races have perished in my State alone.” [81] Elliott’s term “coercive means” accurately described the lynchings as well as the cross burnings, church burnings, incarceration on trumped-up charges, beatings, rape, murder, etc.

The Ku Klux Klan was a leader in this form of violent intimidation by Democrats. As African-American US Rep. James T. Rapier (Republican from al) explained in 1874, Democrats “were hunting me down as the partridge on the mount, night and day, with their Ku Klux Klan, simply because I was a Republican and refused to bow at the foot of their Baal.” [82]

Of all forms of violent intimidation, lynchings were by far the most effective. Between 1882 and 1964, 4,743 persons were lynched-” 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites. [83] Why were so many more blacks lynched than whites? According to African-American Rep. John R. Lynch (Republican from SC), “More colored than white men are thus persecuted simply because they constitute in larger numbers the opposition to the Democratic Party.” [84]

Republicans often led the effort to pass federal anti-lynching laws, [85] but Democrats successfully blocked every anti-lynching bill. For example, in 1921, Republican Rep. Leonidas Dyer (MO) introduced a federal anti-lynching bill in Congress, but Democrats in the Senate killed it. [86] The NAACP reported on December 17, 1921, that: “since the introduction of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill in Congress on April 11, 1921, there have been 28 persons murdered by lynchings in the United States.” [87] Although some Democrats introduced anti-lynching bills across the decades, their Democratic leaders killed every effort and Congress never did pass an anti-lynching bill. [88]

9. Restrictive eligibility requirements

Election policies designed to limit black voting included requirements that a voter must reside in a state for two years, his county for one year, and his ward or precinct for six months before he could vote. [89] This requirement especially limited the effect of workers seeking employment-” often blacks. After the poll tax was abolished, some States, still trying to achieve the same effect, enacted annual registration fees for voters. The lower courts struck down such fees in 1971; [90] in 1972 the Supreme Court struck down the excessive filing fees established by Democratic legislatures; [91] these fees were designed to prevent what the Supreme Court had termed the “less affluent segment of the community” [92] from participating as candidates.

10. Rewriting of State constitutions

As a part of Reconstruction, most southern States had been required to rewrite their State constitutions to add full civil rights protections. [93] However, less than two decades later, many States revised their constitutions to remove those clauses. For example, in 1868 North Carolina had rewritten its constitution to include civil rights, [94] but in 1876 it amended its constitution to exclude most blacks from voting. [95] Over the next two decades, Democrats in Mississippi, [96] South Carolina, [97] Louisiana, [98] Florida, [99] Alabama, [100] and Virginia [101] also altered their constitutions or passed laws to negate many of the rights given to blacks during Reconstruction.

11. Other requirements

Other restrictions used by Democrats to keep blacks from voting included property ownership requirements. For example, in Alabama in 1901, a voter was required to own land or property worth at least $300 before he could vote [102] (today that would equate to more than $6,500. [103]) Some States would withhold voting rights for the “commission” of a crime-” not for a serious crime or a felony but rather for violating any of a long list of petty offenses (unemployed blacks or those looking for work were often charged with vagrancy, resulting in a loss of their voting rights). [104]

An Historical Sidenote

Current writers and texts addressing the post-Civil War period often present an incomplete portrayal of that era. For example, africana.com notes: “Southerners established whites-only voting in party primaries . . . or gerrymandered electoral districts, thus diluting the strength of black voters.” [105] Although it is true that both whites and southerners were the overwhelming source of difficulties for African-Americans, it was just one type of southern whites that caused the problems: southern racist whites. There was another type of southern whites: the non-racist whites, many of whom suffered great persecutions and even loss of life for supporting blacks. These whites are often unrecognized or unacknowledged in black history and are wrongly grouped with racist whites through the use of the overly broad terms such as “southerners” or “whites.” To make an accurate portrayal of black history, a distinction must be made between types of whites.

For example, the Rev. Richard Allen (1760-1831), a founder of the AME church in America, suffered many injuries at the hands of “whites”: he was a slave, his mother and brothers were sold separately and his family was split by his master, Allen was opposed by prominent Gospel ministers, etc. Yet Allen understood that only some whites were hostile. In fact, in his own memoirs, Allen openly acknowledges whites who helped him. For example, Allen writes to other blacks: “I hope the name of Dr. Benjamin Rush [a white signer of the Declaration] and Robert Ralston [a white wealthy merchant] will never be forgotten among us. They were the first two gentlemen who espoused the cause of the oppressed and aided us in building the house of the Lord for the poor Africans to worship in.” [106] Allen also notes that in 1784 when he started his first church in Philadelphia, “there were but few colored people in the neighborhood-” the most of my congregation was white.” [107] Such positive portrayals of black/white relations are too often missing from black history pieces today; instead, “whites” are described as oppressors. Some were; some were not.

Another illustration is provided by the passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments. Constitutional amendments must be passed by a margin of two-thirds in Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the States. Those Amendments abolishing slavery and providing civil rights and voting rights for African-Americans were passed by two-thirds of the white men in Congress and by white men in the legislature of three-fourths of the States-” an overwhelming majority of these white men were Republicans and were not racists. (Among the literally hundreds of whites voting for these amendments were two African-American Republicans elected in Massachusetts in 1866. [108])

Therefore, the africana.com quote would be much more historically correct-” although more politically incorrect-” were it to read: “Democratic legislatures in the South [instead of just “southerners”] established whites-only voting in party primaries . . . ” This weakness of distinction is typical of far too many black history writings addressing the post-Reconstruction era.

An Obvious Purpose

It is clear that many southern Democrats despised blacks and Republicans and used every possible means to keep them from power. This hostility was evident in the numerous devices they used-” including violence. In fact, after examining the abundant evidence, Republican US Sen. Roscoe Conkling (nominated as a US Supreme Court Justice in 1882) concluded that the Democratic Party was determined to exterminate blacks in those States where Democratic supremacy was threatened. [109]

The Democrats’ hostility was evident not only in their actions but also in the words they used to describe blacks and Republicans. Democrats applied epithets that were at that time considered base, vulgar, and derogatory-” terms such as “scalawags” (those in the South who had opposed succession) [110] or “radicals” (early Republicans were considered radical because their party was bi-racial and because they allowed blacks to vote and participate in the political process). [111]

Clearly, because Republicans embraced and welcomed blacks as equals, Democrats abhorred and bitterly opposed them. As black US Rep. Richard H. Cain (Republican from SC) explained in 1875: “The bad blood of the South comes because the Negroes are Republicans. If they would only cease to be Republicans and vote the straight-out Democratic ticket there would be no trouble. Then the bad blood would sink entirely out of sight.” [112] Many Democrats today-” including many black Democrats-” have picked up the Democrats’ long-standing hatred for Republicans without understanding its origins. They often blame that generations-long contempt on issues other than the anti-black, anti-Republican sentiments that shaped their Party, but history is clear.

Fighting the Constitution

Decades after the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments, many Democrats still steadfastly opposed those protections. In 1900, Democrat US Sen. Ben Tillman (SC) declared: “We made up our minds that the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were themselves null and void; that the [civil rights] acts of Congress . . . were null and void; that oaths required by such laws were null and void.” [113] Democrats such as Rep. W. Bourke Cockran (NY), Sen. John Tyler Morgan (AL), Sen. Samuel McEnery (LA), and others agreed with this position and were among the Democrats seeking a repeal of the 15th Amendment (voting rights for African-Americans). [114] In fact, Sen. McEnery even declared: “I believe . . . that not a single southern Senator would object to such a move” [115] (of the 22 southern Senators, 20 were Democrats [116]).

Effect on Black Voting

Unrelenting efforts by Democrats to suppress black voting were successful. Eventually, in Selma, Alabama, the voting rolls were 99 percent white and 1 percent black even though there were more black residents than whites in that city; [117] and in Birmingham-” a city with 18,000 blacks-” only 30 of them were eligible to vote. [118] Black voters in Alabama and Florida were reduced by nearly 90 percent, [119] and in Texas from 100,000 to only 5,000. [120] By the 1940s, only 5 percent of blacks in the south were registered to vote. [121]

More Recent Civil Rights Efforts

In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, a few Democratic leaders began to oppose their own party’s policies against blacks. Democratic President Harry S. Truman from Missouri was perhaps the first and most vocal national Democratic leader to advocate strong civil rights protections, [122] yet his party rejected his efforts. [123] Reformers such as Truman learned that it was a difficult task for rank-and-file Democrats to reshape their long-held views on race.

In fact, in 1924 when Texas Democratic candidate for Governor, Ma Ferguson, ran against the Democratic Ku Klux Klan candidate in the primary, it cost her the widespread support of the Texas Democratic Party. [124] Democrat Franklin Roosevelt understood his Party, however, and in his 1932 race he made subtle overtures to blacks but avoided making any overt civil rights promises. FDR was so unsuccessful in this approach that his Republican opponent, Herbert Hoover, received over 75 percent of the black vote in that election. [125]

Unlike FDR, Harry Truman worked boldly and openly to change his party. In 1946, he became the first modern President to institute a comprehensive review of race relations and, not surprisingly, faced strenuous opposition from within his own party. In fact, Democratic Sen. Theodore Bilbo (MS) admonished every “red blooded Anglo Saxon man in Mississippi to resort to any means” to keep blacks from voting. [126] Nonetheless, Truman pushed forward and introduced an aggressive civil rights legislative package that included an anti-lynching law, an anti-poll tax law, desegregation of the military, etc., but his own party killed all of his proposals. [127]

Southern Democratic Governors, denouncing Truman’s proposals, met in Florida and proposed what they called a “southern conference of true Democrats” to plan their strategy. [128] That summer at the Democratic National Convention when Truman placed strong civil rights language in the national Democratic platform, a walkout of southern delegates resulted. Southern Democrats then formed the Dixiecrat Party and ran South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond as their candidate for President. [129] (It was concerning this 1948 presidential bid by Thurmond that Republican Sen. Trent Lott (MS) uttered his disgraceful comments [130] that made national news.) Thurmond’s bid was unsuccessful; he later had a change of heart on civil rights and in 1964 left the Democratic Party. In 1971, as a Republican US Senator, Thurmond became the first southern Senator to hire a black in his senatorial office. [131]

In 1954, additional civil rights progress was made when the US Supreme Court rendered its Brown v. Board of Education decision, [132] integrating public schools and ending segregation. (Significantly, the Court was only reversing its own position taken nearly sixty years earlier in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision that upheld segregation laws enacted by Democratic State legislatures.)

In 1957, and then again in 1960, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower made bold civil rights proposals to increase black voting rights and protections. [133] Since Congress was solidly in the hands of the Democrats, they cut the heart out of his bills before passing weak, watered-down versions of his proposals. [134] Nevertheless, to focus national attention upon the plight of blacks, Eisenhower started a civil rights commission and was the first President to appoint a black to an executive position in the White House. [135]

In 1963, following the Birmingham riots, Democratic President John F. Kennedy proposed a strong civil rights bill. Its language was taken from the wording of Eisenhower’s original civil rights bill (before it was gutted by Democrats) and from proposals made by Eisenhower’s civil rights commission. [136] Kennedy’s tragic assassination halted his bill.

In 1964, the 24th Amendment was added to the Constitution, abolishing the poll tax. Significantly, on five previous occasions the House passed a ban on the poll tax but Senate Democrats had killed the bills each time. [137] As early as 1949 (as part of Truman’s proposed civil rights package), Democratic Sen. Spessard Holland (FL) introduced a constitutional amendment to end poll taxes, but it was 1962 before it was approved by the Senate. [138] Significantly, 91 percent of the Republicans in Congress voted to end the poll tax but only 71 percent of the Democrats did so; and in the Senate, of the 16 Senators who opposed the 24th Amendment, 15 were Democrats. [139] (The 24th Amendment banned poll taxes only for federal elections; in 1966, the US Supreme Court struck down poll taxes for all elections, including local and State. [140])

In 1964, Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson picked up the civil rights bill introduced by President Kennedy. However, even though Democrats held almost two-thirds of the seats in Congress at that time, Johnson could not garner sufficient votes from within his own party to pass the bill. (Johnson needed 269 votes from his Party to achieve passage but could garner the support of only 198 of the 315 Democrats in Congress. [141]) Johnson therefore worked with Republicans to achieve the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, followed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (The 1965 Voting Rights Act by Johnson was a resurrection of Eisenhower’s original language before it had been killed by Democrats. When it was finally approved under Johnson, of the 18 Senators who opposed the Voting Rights Act, 17 were Democrats. In fact, 97 percent of Republican Senators voted for the Act. [142])

The 1965 Voting Rights Act banned literacy tests and authorized the federal government to oversee voter registration and elections in counties that had used voter eligibility tests. Within a year, 450,000 new southern blacks successfully registered to vote; [143] and voter registration of African-Americans in Mississippi rose from only 5 percent in 1960 to 60 percent by 1968. [144]

The 1965 Voting Rights Act opened opportunities for African-Americans that they had not enjoyed since Republicans had been in power a century before; the laws and policies long enforced by southern Democratic legislatures had finally come to an end. As a result, the number of blacks serving in federal and State legislatures rose from 2 in 1965 to 160 in 1990. [145]

Controversies and Successes

In recent years, much national media coverage has focused on allegations of election fraud in Dade County and West Palm Beach, Florida; St. Louis, Missouri; Michigan (the buying of votes); New Mexico (the destruction of thousands of uncounted ballots); etc. Significantly, each one of these incidents occurred in an area that was overwhelmingly Democratic and where the elections had been administered by Democratic election officials. The fact that such problems occur in areas under Democratic rather than Republican control might surprise many today, but it would not have surprised African-Americans a century ago.

In 1875, African-American US Rep. Joseph H. Rainey (Republican from SC) declared: “We intend to continue to vote so long as the government gives us the right and necessary protection; and I know that right accorded to us now will never be withheld in the future if left to the Republican Party.” [146] In fact, on the floor of Congress, Rainey told Democrats: “Your votes, your actions, and the constant cultivation of your cherished prejudices prove to the Negroes of the entire country that the Democrats are in opposition to them, and if they (the Democrats) could have [their way], our race would have no foothold here. . . . The Democratic Party may woo us, they may court us and try to get us to worship at their shrine, but I will tell the gentleman that we are Republicans by instinct, and we will be Republicans so long as God will allow our proper senses to hold sway over us.” [147]

The original philosophies and actions of both major parties are vividly documented in history but are largely unreported today. And while there has been good and bad on both sides, a general pattern is clearly established: African-Americans made their most significant gains as Republicans. Even today many of those patterns still remain. It is significant that black Republican US Rep. JC Watts (OK) chaired the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. Watts was the third African-American to chair a National Republican Convention (the first was US Rep. John Roy Lynch (MS) in 1884 and then US Sen. Edward Brooke (MA) in 1968); [148] however, no African-American has ever chaired, or even co-chaired, a Democratic National Convention. Similarly, in the 130 years that Democrats controlled Texas, only 4 minority individuals served Statewide; in the 8 years that Republicans have controlled the State, 6 minority individuals already have served Statewide. In fact, Texas just elected three African-Americans to statewide office-” all as Republicans, apparently becoming the first State in America’s history to achieve this distinction. Furthermore, Maryland and Ohio each just elected black Lt. Governors-” both as Republicans.

An important point is illustrated by these recent elections (and by scores before them): in Democratic-controlled States, rarely are African-Americans elected statewide (with the exception of US Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (IL, 1992-1998)); and African-American Democratic Representatives to Congress usually are elected only from minority districts (districts with a majority of minority voters). Minority Republicans, on the other hand, are elected statewide in Republican States, or in congressional districts with large white majorities. [149]

Perhaps this explains why African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass a century ago reminded blacks: “The Republican Party is the ship, all else is the sea.” [150] The history of African-American voting rights in America proves Douglass was right.

[For more information on the struggle for African American Civil Rights see our Setting the Record Straight resource (in DVD, VHS, and Book format); we have also cataloged our Black History resources here]


[1] The Washington Times online, Steve Miller, “Jackson dismisses Founding Fathers,” September 16, 2002 (at https://www.wa shtimes.com/national/20020916-78725174.htm).

[2] Stanford University online, Peter Kolchin, “Reconstruction,” 1997 (at https://www.stanford.edu/~paherman/reconstruction.htm).

[3] Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 407 (1856).

[4] Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 573 (1856), Curtis, J. (dissenting).

[5] The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America (Boston: Norman and Bowen, 1785), p. 92, 1776 Delaware Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #6.

[6] Constitutions (1785), p. 104, 1776 Maryland Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #5.

[7] Constitutions (1785), p. 5, 1784 New Hampshire Constitution, “Bill of Rights,” #11.

[8] Constitutions (1785), p. 58, 1777 New York Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #7.

[9] Rufus King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, Charles R. King, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900), p. 404.

[10] Constitutions (1785), p. 78, 1776 Pennsylvania Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #7.

[11] Constitutions (1785), p. 8, 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #9.

[12] Carter G. Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations (Washington, DC: The Associated Publishers, Inc., 1925), p. 310, Rep. Robert Brown Elliott from his speech on the Civil Rights Bill on January 6, 1874.

[13] John Hancock, Essays on the Elective Franchise; or, Who Has the Right to Vote? (Philadelphia: Merrihew & Son, 1865), pp. 22-23.

[14] Hancock, Essays on the Elective Franchise, p. 27.

[15] Benson Lossing, Harpers’ Popular Cyclopedia, pp.1299-1300; W.O. Blake, History of Slavery and the Slave Trade, p. 177; Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (1839), Vol. VIII, p. 42, to the Rev. Dean Woodward on April 10, 1773; Frank Moore, Materials for History Printed From Original Manuscripts, the Correspondence of Henry Laurens of South Carolina (New York: Zenger Club, 1861), p. 20, to John Laurens on August 14, 1776; Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, DC: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Assoc., 1903), Vol. I, p. 34.

[16] Thomas R. R. Cobb, An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States of America (Philadelphia: T. & T.W. Johnson & Co., 1858), pp. 171-172; see also The Public Laws of the State of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, as revised by a Committee, and finally enacted by the Honorable General Assembly, at their Session in January, 1798 (Providence: Carter and Wilkinson, 1798), pp. 607-611; see also The Public Statute Laws of the State of Connecticut. Book 1. Published by Authority of the General Assembly (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1808), pp. 623-626; see also Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, From the Fourteenth Day of October, One Thousand Seven Hundred, to the Twentieth Day of March One Thousand Eight Hundred and Ten. Published by Authority of the Legislature (Philadelphia: Jon Bioren, 1810), Vol. 1, pp. 492-497.

[17] Constitutions (1785), p. 5, 1784 New Hampshire Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #11; p. 8, 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, #9; p. 78, 1776 Pennsylvania Constitution, #7.

[18] Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1834), Vol. II, p. 2215, 1789, “An act to provide for the government of the Territory northwest of the river Ohio”; see also The Constitutions of the United States of America (Trenton: William and David Robinson, 1813), p. 366, “Northwest Ordinance,” Article #6.

[19] Debates and Proceedings (1849), p. 1425, “An act to prohibit the carrying on the slave-trade from the United States to any foreign place or country” in 1794.

[20] Debates and Proceedings (1849), p. 1266, “An act to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States” in 1807.

[21] Cobb, An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery, pp. 153, 163, 169.

[22] Debates and Proceedings (1849), pp. 2555, 2559, “An act to authorize the people of Missouri Territory to form a constitution and state government” in 1820.

[23] George Adams Boyd, Elias Boudinot (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952), p. 290, in a letter to Elias Boudinot on November 27, 1819.

[24] Charles Francis Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), p. 386, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on December 18, 1819.

[25] Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson (New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905), p. 157, in a letter to Hugh Nelson on February 7, 1820.

[26] Statutes at Large and Treaties of the United States of America, from December 1, 1845, to March 3, 1851, George Minot, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1862), 31st Congress, 1st Session, Chapter 55, September 18, 1850, Vol. 9, pp. 462-465.

[27] Statutes at Large and Treaties of the United States of America, from December 1, 1851, to March 3, 1855, George Minot, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1855), 33rd Congress, 1st Session, Chapter 59, May 30, 1854, Vol. 10, pp. 277-290.

[28] Hancock, Essays on the Elective Franchise, p. 22.

[29] Hancock, Essays on the Elective Franchise, pp. 22-23.

[30] Thomas Hudson McKee, The National Conventions and Platforms of All Political Parties, 1789-1905 (New York: Burt Franklin, 1971), pp. 18-20; Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives online, “Party Divisions” (at ht tp://clerk.house.gov/histHigh/Congressional_History/partyDiv.php); CNN AllPolitics.com, “Democratic Party History,” August 2, 2000 (at https://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/conventions/democratic/features/history/).

[31] Eugene V. Smalley, A Brief History of the Republican Party. From Its Organization to the Presidential Campaign of 1884 (New York: John Alden, Publisher, 1885), p. 30.

[32] Hancock, Essays on the Elective Franchise, pp. 32-33.

[33] McKee, National Conventions and Platforms, pp. 97-99.

[34] McKee, National Conventions and Platforms, p. 91.

[35] McKee, National Conventions and Platforms, pp. 108-109.

[36] Harper’s Weekly online, “The Dred Scott Decision” (at https://blackhistory.harpweek.com/7Illustrations/Slavery/DredScottAd.htm) , in an advertisement that appeared in Harper’s Weekly, July 23, 1859.

[37] Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamation of the United States of America, from December 5, 1859, to March 3, 1863, George P. Spanger, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1863), 37th Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 54, April 16, 1862, Vol. 15, pp. 376-378.

[38] James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (Published by Authority of Congress, 1899), Vol. VI, 157-159, Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863.

[39] Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamation of the United States of America, from December, 1863, to December, 1865, George P. Spanger, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1866), 38th Congress, 1st Session, Chapter 166, June 28, 1864, Vol. 13, p. 200; 1st Session, Chapter 144, June 20, 1864, Vol. 13, p. 144-145 [equalized pay]; and 2nd Session, Chapter 90, March 3, 1865, Vol. 13, pp. 507-509.

[40] Dominicus-von-Linprun-Gymnasium online, “American History: The Past of a Nation”

(at https://www.gymnasium-viechtach.de/ushistory/2_e.htm).

[41] Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamation of the United States of America, from December, 1865, to March, 1867, George P. Spanger, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1868), 39th Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 152, March 2, 1867, Vol. 14, pp. 428-430; Statutes, from December, 1867, to March, 1869 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1869), 40th Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 69, June 22, 1868, Vol. 15, pp. 72-74.

[42] Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamation of the United States of America, from December, 1865, to March, 1867, George P. Spanger, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1868), 39th Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 152, March 2, 1867, Vol. 14, p. 429.

[43] Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamation of the United States of America, from December, 1867, to March, 1869, George P. Spanger, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1869), 40th Congress, 1st Session, Chapter 6, March 23, 1867, Vol. 15, pp. 2-4.

[44] The Handbook of Texas online, “African Americans and Politics” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbok/online/articles/print/AA/wmafr.html)

[45] Langston Hughes, Milton Meltzer, and Eric C. Lincoln, A Pictorial History of Blackamericans (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1983), p. 204.

[46] Hughes, Meltzer, and Lincoln, Pictorial History (1983), p. 205.

[47] Alabama Moments in American History online, “Alabama’s Black Leaders During Reconstruction” (at https://www.alabam amoments.state.al.us/sec26det.html); etc.

[48] The Handbook of Texas online, “Reconstruction” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/AA/wmafr.html).

[49] Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations, p. 291, Sen. Hiram R. Revels from his speech on the Georgia Bill on March 16, 1870; p. 337, Rep. Richard H. Cain from his speech on the Civil Rights Bill on January 10, 1874; p. 379, Rep. Joseph H. Rainey from his speech made on March 5, 1872 in reply to an attack upon the colored state legislators of South Carolina by Representative Cox of New York; etc.

[50] Smalley, Brief History of the Republican Party, pp. 49-50; see also The Handbook of Texas online, “Ku Klux Klan” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbok/online/articles/view/KK/vek2.html).

[51] Hughes, Meltzer, and Lincoln, Pictorial History (1983), p. 199; see also The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson online, “The New Orleans Massacre” (at https://www.impeach-andrewjohnson.com/06FirstImpeachmentDiscussion s/iiib-8a.htm); and Harper’s Weekly online, “The Riot in New Orleans” (at https://www.blackhistory.harpweek.com/7Illustrations/Reco nstruction/RiotInNewOrleans.htm).

[52] Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations, p. 291, Sen. Hiram R. Revels from his speech on the Georgia Bill on March 16, 1870; see also National Anti-Slavery Standard, September 26, 1868, “The South. The Rebel Perfidy in the Legislature. Colored Republicans Expelled” p. 1, and Georgia Secretary of State online, “Expelled Because of their Color: African-American Legislators in Georgia” (at https://www.sos.state .ga.us/Archives/ve/1/ec1.htm).

[53] Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1869), 40th Congress, 3rd Session, February 25, 1869, pp. 449-450; Journal of the Senate of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1869), 40th Congress, 3rd Session, February 25, 1869, p. 361.

[54] Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamation of the United States of America, from December, 1865, to March, 1867, George P. Spanger, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1868), 39th Congress, 1st Session, Chapter 31, April 9, 1866, Vol. 14, pp. 27-30; 39th Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 153, March 2, 1867, Vol. 14, pp. 428-430; Statutes at Large, from December, 1869, to March, 1871 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1871), 41st Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 114, May 31, 1870, Vol. 16, pp. 140-146; Statutes at Large, from December, 1873, to March, 1875 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1875), 43rd Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 114, March 1, 1875, Vol. 18, Part 3, pp. 335-337.

[55] Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations, p. 375, Rep. John R. Lynch from his speech on the Civil Rights Bill on February 3, 1875.

[56] The Handbook of Texas online, “Constitution Proposed in 1874” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/mhc12.html), and “Constitution of 1876” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/mhc7.html) .

[57] The Federal and State Constitutions Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies, Francis Newton Thorpe, editor (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1909), pp. 2834-2835, 1876 North Carolina Constitution, Article 5, Section 1; Article 6, Section 4.

[58] Palm Beach Post online, Mark Caputo, “Black Judge’s Honor Restored in History Books,” February 27, 2002 (at https://www.myflorida.com/myflorida/governorsoffice/black_history/ju dge2.html); University of Dayton School of Law online, J. Whyatt Mondesire, “Felon Disenfranchisement: the Modern Day Poll Tax” (at https://academic .udayton.edu/race/04needs/voting06.htm).

[59] Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History online, “America in Ferment: The Tumultuous 1960s,” November 14, 2002 (at http:/ /www.gliah.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=369).

[60] PBS online, “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow” (at https://www.pbs. org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_org_kkk.html); see also Cyberschool online, “African Americans Under Congressional Reconstruction” (at https://br t.uoregon.edu/cyberschool/history/ch15/rights.html); see also Hughes, Meltzer, and Lincoln, Pictorial History (1983), p. 199; etc.

[61] Ohio State University online, “Voting Restrictions: Jim Crow” (at https://1912.hist ory.ohio-state.edu/race/jimcrow.htm); see also SkyMinds.Net, “American Civilization: The Reconstruction” (at https://www.skyminds.net/ civilization/12.php).

[62] Florida: History, People & Politics online, Unit 3: Florida as a State; “Civil Rights: The Case of Florida; Black Codes” (at https://www.fcim.org/ flhistory/unit3_t4_case.htm); see also World Socialist Web Site, Jerry White, “Florida’s Legacy of Voter Disenfranchisement,” April 6, 2001, p. 2 (at https://www. wsws.org/articles/2001/apr2001/flor-a09_prn.shtml); see also Pensacola Beach Residents & Leaseholders Assn. online, “Reconstruction and Revanchism in Escambia County, 1865-1888” (at https://www.pbrla.com /hxarchive_civwar_recon.html).

[63] African-American History online, “The Black Codes of 1865” (at https:// aafroamhistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa121900a.htm); see also The Handbook of Texas online, “Black Codes,” p. 1 (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/BB/jsb1.html) .

[64] The Handbook of Texas online, “Reconstruction” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/AA/wmafr.html).

[65] Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations, p. 305, Rep. Joseph H. Rainey, speaking on April 1, 1871, to explain how the Ku Klux Klan’s actions limit African-American people’s participation in the political process.

[66] CNN.com, “Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement, 1850-1970,” February 1, 2001 (at https://www.cnn.com/fyi/interactive/specials/bhm/story/timeline.html).

[67] African-American History online, “Creation of the Jim Crow South” (at https://a afroamhistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa010201a.htm); see also National Park Service online, “Jim Crow Laws” (at https://www.nps.go v/malu/documents/jim_crow_laws.htm); etc.

[68] Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883).

[69] United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section online, “Introduction to Federal Voting Rights Laws” (at https://www.usdoj.gov/crt/vo ting/intro.htm).

[70] The Handbook of Texas online, “African Americans and Politics,” p. 3 (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/AA/wmafr.html) , and “Texas Legislature,” pp. 4, 6 (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/TT/mkt2.html ).

[71] The Handbook of Texas online, “Texas Legislature,” p. 4 (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/TT/mkt2.html ).

[72] Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U.S. 536 (1927).

[73] Our Georgian History online, Col. Samuel Taylor, “Georgia’s Gilded Age: Georgia History 101” (at https:// www.ourgeorgiahistory.com/history101/gahistory09.html).

[74] SSHA Political Network News online, J. Morgan Kousser, “H-Pol’s Online Seminar: Historical Origins of the Runoff Primary,” Fall 1996 (at https://w ww2.h-net.msu.edu/~pol/ssha/netnews/f96/kousser.htm).

[75] World Socialist Web Site, Jerry White, “Florida’s Legacy of Voter Disenfranchisement,” April 6, 2001, p. 2 (at https://www. wsws.org/articles/2001/apr2001/flor-a09_prn.shtml).

[76] Ohio State University online, “Voting Restrictions: Jim Crow” (at https://1912.hist ory.ohio-state.edu/race/jimcrow.htm).

[77] Jim Crow Guide to the USA online, Stetson Kennedy, Chapter 10 (at https:// www.stetsonkennedy.com/jim_crow_guide/chapter10_2.htm).

[78] Harvard University Press online, “The Transformation of Southern Politics,” from a book review of The Rise of Southern Politics, Earl Black and Merle Black, p. 2 (at https:// www.hup.harvard.edu/Newsroom/pr_rise_south_repubs.html); see also The Atlantic online, Grover Norquist, “Is the Party Over?,” p. 3 (at https://www .theatlantic.com/unbound/forum/gop/norquist1.htm)

[79] Grovey v. Townsend, 295 U.S. 45, 55 (1935).

[80] Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649, 658 (1944); see also The Handbook of Texas online, “White Primary” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/WW/wdw1.html ).

[81] Neglected Voices online, “Speeches of African-American Representatives Addressing the Ku Klux Klan Bill of 1871,” pp. 5,10, Representative Robert B. Elliot, responding on April 1, 1871 to arguments that the Bill is unconstitutional, and that Ku Klux Klan is not violent (at https://www .law.nyu.edu/davisp/neglectedvoices/ElliotR.html).

[82 Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations, p. 354, Rep. James T. Rapier from his speech on the Civil Rights Bill on June 9, 1874.

[83] University of Missouri-Kansas City online, statistics provided by the Archives at Tuskegee Institute, “Lynching Statistics by Year” (at https://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/shipp/lynchingyear.html ).

[84] Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations, p. 276, Rep. John R. Lynch from his speech in the case of his contested election.

[85] Robert L. Zangrando, The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching, 1909-1950 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980), p. 16.

[86] Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates in the Second Session of the 73rd Congress of the United States of America (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1934), Vol. 78, Part 11, p. 11869, June 15, 1934.

[87] Hughes, Meltzer, and Lincoln, Pictorial History (1983), p. 269.

[88] History Matters online, “The Body Court: Lynching in Arkansas” (at https://historymatters.gmu.edu/d /5467/); see also History @ Bedford/St. Martin’s online, “Conclusion” (at https://www.bedfordstmartins.com/history/modules/mod23/mod15_frame conclusion.htm).

[89] Alabama Public Television online, Wayne Flint, “History of the 1901 Alabama Constitution” (at https://www.aptv.org/con stitution/history.html).

[90] The Handbook of Texas online, “African Americans and Politics” p. 6 at (https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/AA/wmafr.html ). &nbs p;

[91] Bullock v. Carter, 405 U.S. 134 (1972).

[92] Bullock v. Carter, 405 U.S. 134, 144 (1972).

[93] Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamation of the United States of America, from December, 1865, to March, 1867, George P. Spanger, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1868), 39th Congress, 2nd Session, Chapter 152, March 2, 1867, Vol. 14, pp. 428-429.

[94] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), Vol. V, pp. 2800-2803, 2814, 1868 North Carolina Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #1, #10, #33, Article 6, Section 1.

[95] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), Vol. V, pp. 2822-2823,2834-2835, 1876 North Carolina Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #1, #10, Article 5, Section 1; Article 6, Section 4.

[96] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), pp. 2067-2068, 1832 Mississippi Constitution, Amendment 13, Article VIII; see also p. 2079, 1868 Mississippi Constitution, Article 7, Section 2; pp. 2120-2121, 1890 Mississippi Constitution, Article 12, Sections 241, 243-244.

[97] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), pp. 3276, 3279-3280, 1865 South Carolina Constitution, Article 4, Ordinance, Section 3; see also pp. 3281, 3297-3298, 1868 South Carolina Constitution, Article 1, Sections 1-2, Article 8, Sections 2, 12; see also pp. 3307-3308, 1895 South Carolina Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #9, “Right of Suffrage,” Sec. 3 (c).

[98] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), pp. 1449, 1462-1463, 1868 Louisiana Constitution, “Bill of Rights,” #1-3, 98, 103; see also pp. 1471, 1502, 1879 Louisiana Constitution, “Bill of Rights,” #5, #188; see also pp. 1562-1563, 1898 Louisiana Constitution, “Bill of Rights,” #197, Sections 2-4, #198.

[99] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), pp. 704, 719-720, 1868 Florida Constitution, Article 1, 15.

[100] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), pp. 132, 144, 1867 Alabama Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #1, Article 7, Section 2; see also p. 154, 1875 Alabama Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #1, Article 8, Section 1; see also pp. 209-210, 215, 1901 Alabama Constitution, “Declaration of Rights,” #181, #194.

[101] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), pp. 3873-3875, 1870 Virginia Constitution, “Bill of Rights,” #1 Article 3, Section 1; see also pp. 3904-3907, 1902 Virginia Constitution, “Bill of Rights,” #1, #18-19.

[102] The Federal and State Constitutions (1909), p. 210, 1901 Alabama Constitution, Article 8, #181.

[103] Columbia Journalism Review online, “CJR Dollar Conversion Calculator” (at https://www.cjr.org/resources/inflater.asp).

[104] Florida: History, People & Politics online, Unit 3: Florida as a State; “Civil Rights: The Case of Florida; Black Codes” (at https://www.fcim.org/ flhistory/unit3_t4_case.htm).

[105] Africana.com, “History: Fifteenth Amendment or 15th Amendment,” p. 2 (at https://www.africana.com/A rticles/tt_521.htm).

[106] Richard Allen, The Life Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen (New York, Nashville: Abingdon Press, reprint of an earlier edition, 1960), p. 26.

[107] Allen, Life Experience (1960), p. 21.

[108] Virtual Black History Museum in Louisiana online, “1800s Interactive First’s Timeline,” p. 3 (at https://www.sabine. k12.la.us/mjhs/Archives/1800.htm).

[109] A Republican Text-Book for Colored Voters online, T.H.R. Clarke, B. McKay, editors, p. 43 (at https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/murray:@field(FLD001+75319795+):@@@$REF$ ).

[110] Hughes, Meltzer, and Lincoln, Pictorial History (1983), p. 202; see also “Reconstruction” (at https://www.stanfo rd.edu/paherman/reconstruction.htm).

[111] The Handbook of Texas online, “African Americans and Politics” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/AA/wmafr.html), and “Reconstruction” (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/RR/mzr1.html).

[112] Neglected Voices online, Representative Richard H. Cain, responding on February 3, 1875, to arguments that the Bill would unconstitutionally infringe the rights of whites (at ht tp://www.law.nyu.edu/davidp/neglectedvoices/RaineyFeb031875.html).

[113] Library of Congress online, A Republican Text-Book for Colored Voters, p. 1 (at https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/murray:@field(FL D001+75319795+):@@@$REF$).

[114] Library of Congress online, A Republican Text-Book for Colored Voters, pp. 1, 10-11, 31 (at https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/murray:@field(FL D001+75319795+):@@@$REF$); see also Library of Congress online, Hon. John P. Green, Colored Men and the Democratic Party: Review of American History on This Issue (Springfield, Ohio: Springfield Publishing Company), p. 6. (at https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mur ray:@field(FLD001+91898214+):@@@$REF$).

[115] Library of Congress online, Green, Colored Men and the Democratic Party, p. 6 (at . https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/murray:@field(F LD001+91898214+):@@@$REF$).

[116] Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1927 (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1928), pp. 435-444, 479-488.

[117] Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History online, “Voting Rights, Period: 1960s,” p. 1 (at http:/ /www.gliah.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=369).

[118] Alabama Public Television online, Wayne Flint, “History of the 1901 Alabama Constitution,” p. 5 (at https://www.aptv.org/con stitution/history.html).

[119] Alabama Public Television online, Wayne Flint, “History of the 1901 Alabama Constitution,” p. 6 (at https://www.aptv.org/con stitution/history.html); see also World Socialist Web Site, Jerry White, “Florida’s Legacy of Voter Disenfranchisement,” April 6, 2001, p. 2 (at https://www. wsws.org/articles/2001/apr2001/flor-a09.shtml).

[120] Mike Kingston, Sam Attlesey, and Mary G. Crawford, Political History of Texas (Austin: Eakin Press, 1992), p. 187.

[121] Africana.com, “History: Fifteenth Amendment or 15th Amendment,” p. 2 (at https://www.africana.com/A rticles/tt_521.htm).

[122] Democratic National Committee online, “Brief History of the Democratic Party” (at https://www.democrats.org/ about/history.html), the article states, “With the election of Harry Truman, Democrats began the fight to bring down the final barriers of race and gender.” (emphasis added).

[123] Documentary History of the Truman Presidency online, “The Truman Administration’s Civil Rights Program: The Report of the Committee on Civil Rights” and President Truman’s Message to Congress of February 2, 1948, Vol. 11, p. 3 (at https://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/2upa/Aph/truman_docs/g uide_intros/tru11.htm), and “The Truman Administration’s Civil Rights Program: President Truman’s Attempts to Put the Principles of Racial Justice into Law, 1948-1950,” Vol. 12, pp.

1-2 (at https://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/2upa/ Aph/truman_docs/guide_intros/tru11.htm).

[124] The Handbook of Texas online, “Democratic Party,” p. 2 (at https://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/DD/wad1.html ).

[125] Colorado College online, “A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States of America,” p. 8 (at https://www2.coloradocollege.edu/Dept/PS/faculty/loevy/civil%20rights.h tml).

[126] Truman Presidency online, “Report of the Committee on Civil Rights,” Vol. 11, p. 3 (at https://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/2upa/Aph/truman_docs/g uide_intros/tru11.htm).

[127] United States of America Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates in the Second Session of the Eightieth Congress Second Session (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1948), Vol. 94, Part 1, p. 927 February 2, 1948; see also Truman Presidency online, “Report of the Committee on Civil Rights,” Vol. 12, p. 13, (at https://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/2upa/Aph/truman_docs/guide_intros/t ru12.htm).

[128] Truman Presidency online, “Attempts to Put the Principles of Racial Justice into Law,” Vol. 12, p. 2 (at https://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/2upa/Aph/truman_docs/gu ide_intros/tru12.htm).

[129] Truman Presidency online, “Attempts to Put the Principles of Racial Justice into Law,” Vol. 12, p. 2 (at https://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/2upa/Aph/truman_docs/gu ide_intros/tru12.htm).

[130] Time online, Karen Tumulty, “Trent Lott’s Segregationist College Days,” p. 2 (at http:/ /www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,399310,00.html), Lott stated that “…if the rest of the country had followed our [Mississippi’s segregationist Dixiecrat party] lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years either.”

[131] The Washington Post Writers Group online, Ellen Goodman, “Forgiving History?,” 2002, p. 2 (at https://www.pos twritersgroup.com/archives/good1212.htm).

[132] Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

[133] The Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Passage of the Low that Ended Racial Segregation, Robert D. Loevy, editor (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), pp. 26, 27, 33; see also Civil Rights-” 1957: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate Eighty-Fifth Congress First Session (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1960), pp. 125-131; Civil Rights Act of 1960: Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary United States Senate Eighty Sixth Congress Second Session on H.R. 8601 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1960), pp. 2-7.

[134] The Civil Rights Act of 1964, pp. 26, 27, 28, 30, 31.

[135] The White House Historical Association online, “African Americans and the White House: the 1950s” (at https://www.whitehousehistory.org/04_history/subs_t imeline/c_africans/frame_c_1950.html).

[136] Civil Rights-” 1957: Hearings, Part 3, p. 131; “Civil Rights Act of 1957” online, Part 3 (at http: //www.nv.cc.va.us/home/nvsageh/Hist122/Part4/CRact57.htm); see also The Civil Rights Act of 1964, pp. 27, 30-31; civilrights.org, “Civil Rights Act of 1964,” (at https://www.civilrights.org/library/permanent_collection/resources/1964cra.html ); “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” 42 U.S.C. 1973I.

[137] United States of America Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 88th Congress (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1963), 1st Session, Vol. 109, Part 9, June 27, 1963, pp. 11864-11865; Library of Congress online, “Today in History,” January 23, 2002, pp. 1-2 (at https://memory.loc.gov/am mem/today/jan23.html).

[138] Library of Congress online, “Today in History,” January 23, 2002, p. 2 (at https://memory.loc.gov/am mem/today/jan23.html).

[139] Congressional Quarterly (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Service, 1962), 87th Congress, 2nd Session, 1962, Vol. 18, pp. 630, 654.

[140] Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966).

[141] Congressional Quarterly (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Service, 1965), 88th Congress, 2nd Session, 1964, Vol. 20, pp. 606, 696.

[142] Congressional Quarterly (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Service, 1966), 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965, Vol. 21, pp. 984, 1063.

[143] Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History online, “Voting Rights, Period: 1960s,” p. 2 (at http:/ /www.gliah.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=369).

[144] Africana.com, “Voting Rights Acts of 1965,” Kate Tuttle, pp. 1-2 (at https://www.africana.com/A rticles/tt_393.htm).

[145] Africana.com, “Voting Rights Acts of 1965,” Kate Tuttle, p. 2 (at https://www.africana.com/A rticles/tt_393.htm).

[146] Neglected Voices online, p. 6, Representative Joseph H. Rainey, responding on February 3, 1875, to arguments that the Bill would unconstitutionally infringe on the rights of whites, p. 6 (at https://www .law.nyu.edu/davisp/neglectedvoices/ElliotR.html).

[147] Woodson, Negro Orators and Their Orations, pp. 379-380, Rep. Joseph H. Rainey from his speech made on March 5, 1872 in reply to an attack upon the colored state legislators of South Carolina by Representative Cox of New York.

[148] James Haskins, Distinguished African American Political and Governmental Leaders (Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1999), p. 155; see also USA Today online, “Conventions 2000: Rep. J.C. Watts,” p. 1 (at https://www.usato day.com/community/chat/0817watts.htm); African American Political History online (at htt p://www.garyjosejames.com/AfricanAmericanPoliticalHistory.html).

[149] Maryland State Archives online, Michael Steele,”Lieutenant Governor,” January 27, 2003 (at https://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/08conoff/html/msa13921 .html); see also Ohio Republican Party online, “Leadership: Lt. Governor Jennette Bradley” (at https://www.ohiogop.org/Victory2002.asp?FormMod e=Candidates&CID=8&T=Lt%2E+Governor+Jennette+Bradley); see also Black News Weekly online,”Ga. Could Send 5 Blacks to Congress,” p. 2 (at https://www.blacknewsweekly.c om/210.html); see also The Weekly Standard online, Beth Henary, “Things Go Right in Texas,” November 7, 2002 (at https://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/ 875ahmds.asp); etc.

[150] Library of Congress online, A Republican Text-Book for Colored Voters online, p. 13 (at https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/murray:@field(F LD001+75319795+):@@@$REF$).




Black History Issue 2004

Black Patriots of the American Revolution

Americans have lost much of their knowledge of basic historical facts, particularly those relating to the American Revolution. In fact, a recent survey of high-performing college seniors found that more thought that Ulysses S. Grant (a Civil War general in the 1860s) commanded the troops at Yorktown than George Washington (who actually did lead those troops in the 1780s). Since advanced college seniors cannot identify the commander-in-chief of the American Revolution, it is not surprising that today’s Americans know even less about the thousands of African Americans who fought during the Revolution, or that they participated in every major battle of the War.

Although this part of our history is unfamiliar today, it was known in previous generations because of the writings of black historians such as William Nell, an award winning young scholar in Boston during the 1830s. He studied law and became the first black American to hold a post in the federal government. In 1852, he authored Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812, and three years later, he penned The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution.

This issue is dedicated to a recovery of the knowledge of our black patriot heroes to whom today’s Americans of all colors owe a debt of gratitude.

James Armistead (Lafayette) (1760-1832)
James Armistead was one of the most important American spies during the Revolution. As a slave in Virginia, he witnessed much of the War; and following the British siege of Richmond in 1781, he asked his master, William Armistead, for permission to serve in the cause of American independence with General Marquis de Lafayette, a young Frenchman who came to fight with the Americans. His master agreed, and Lafayette accepted his services. Lafayette dispatched Armistead to the camp of the patriot-turned-traitor, Benedict Arnold (then a British general), to pose as an escaped slave looking for work. Arnold accepted Armistead and allowed him to work in the camp, thus placing him around other British generals, including British commander-in-chief Lord Cornwallis. Armistead obtained much vital information about British plans and troop movements, which he daily sent to General Lafayette. Ironically, Lord Cornwallis so trusted Armistead that he even asked him to become a British spy to watch the Americans. Armistead agreed and thus became a double-spy, feeding accurate information to the Americans and inaccurate information to the British.

Upon learning that the British fleet was moving Cornwallis and his troops to Yorktown, Armistead quickly relayed that information to Lafayette and Washington, who gathered the American forces at Yorktown. After the British troops had landed and the British fleet had unsuspectingly departed from Chesapeake Bay, the Americans engaged the British while the French fleet blockaded the Bay to keep the British navy from returning. The Battle of Yorktown ensued, and the British – without their navy to provide reinforcements or supplies and with no way to retreat off the peninsula on which they were trapped – finally surrendered. Armistead’s crucial information had helped bring a victorious end to the American Revolution.

Following the War, Armistead returned to slavery on his master’s plantation. Three years later, in 1784, General Lafayette returned to America for a visit and met with his friend, Armistead. Lafayette penned a certificate to Virginia leaders praising the work and important contributions of Armistead. Armistead then petitioned the legislature for his freedom, which was granted on New Year’s Day, 1787. (In his latter years, Armistead also received a retirement pension from the State for his military services.) Following his emancipation, Armistead adopted the name Lafayette and thereafter called himself James Lafayette. He remained in the State as a farmer.

General Lafayette became an ardent foe of slavery both in America and in Europe, and it is believed that it was his association with James Armistead that helped clarify his views on slavery, leading him to begin his strong public crusade against that evil.

In 1824, General Lafayette made his final visit to America; his tour across the nation was greeted by crowds of thousands in city after city. When touring Richmond, the General recognized in the crowd his black comrade from four decades earlier (now an old man) and called him out by name and embraced him – the last time the two patriot friends were to meet.

Jordan Freeman (? – 1781);
Lambo (Lambert) Latham (? – 1781)

In 1781, both black and white soldiers fought side by side at the Battle of Groton Heights, Connecticut. The American force of only 84 men, led by Lt. Col. William Ledyard, was attempting to defend the town of New London from a large invading force led by American traitor-turned-British General Benedict Arnold.

After suffering heavy casualties against the overwhelming British numbers, Col. Ledyard and his remaining troops retreated to tiny Fort Griswold, equipped with only a few small cannons. The Americans eventually ran out of ammunition; and when the British charged the fort, the Americans used their rifles as clubs, fighting back the British with only bayonets and pikes. The British began scaling
the walls of the fort; upon reaching the top, the British officer leading the attack – Major Montgomery – was speared and killed by black patriot Jordan Freeman. The British rushed over the walls and quickly overran the fort, overpowering the few remaining Americans.

A British officer then asked the American prisoners, “Who commanded the fort?” Colonel Ledyard replied, “I did once. You do now,” and handed his sword to the British officer, as was customary with a surrender. The British officer then took Ledyard’s own sword and thrust it through Ledyard’s body all the way to the hilt.

That act was witnessed by all the remaining Americans, including black patriot Lambert Latham. (When the flagpole of the fort had earlier been shot down by the British during the battle, Lambert grabbed the American flag and held it high until he was captured.) Latham had stood silently with the other American prisoners, but upon witnessing the coldblooded murder of his commander, Nell records what next occurred: “Lambert . . . retaliated upon the [British] officer by thrusting his bayonet through his body. Lambert, in return, received from the enemy thirty-three bayonet wounds, and thus fell, nobly avenging the death of his commander.”

The British – angered by the loss of so many of their soldiers at the hands of so few Americans – promptly slaughtered all the remaining Americans left in the fort, including Jordan Freeman.

Interestingly, Freeman had been a slave of Col. Ledyard, the commander of the fort, but had been freed by him. As a free man, Freeman had remained in the area and married. When the region came under attack from the British, Freeman chose to stay and fight for America side by side with the man who had once been his owner.

Today, at the site of old Fort Griswold is a plaque showing the moment in which Jordan Freeman killed the attacking British officer. There is also a huge monument standing there; the names of Jordan Freeman and Lambert Latham appear on that monument, along with the other American soldiers who gave their lives defending American liberty in that battle.

Peter Salem (1750-1816)
Peter Salem was a member of the famous Massachusetts Minutemen and was involved in a number of important battles, including the battles of Bunker Hill, Concord, and Saratoga (the first American victory of the Revolution). However, it was in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, that he gained notoriety.

After the battles of Lexington and Concord, American troops from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island assembled at Boston to confront the 5,000 British troops stationed there. The outmanned American forces engaged the British outside the city. The Americans were winning the conflict until they began running out of ammunition. With the Americans near defeat, British commander Major John Pitcairn (who had earlier led the British forces against the Americans at Lexington) mounted the hill and shouted, “The day is ours!” whereupon Salem promptly shot him, sending the British troops into confusion and allowing the Americans to escape safely. Peter Salem was honored before General Washington for his soldierly act.

Salem became a member of the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment and served throughout the rest of the Revolution – a total of seven years of military service in behalf of his country, a length of time achieved by few other soldiers in the Revolution. Salem had entered the Revolution as a slave but finished it as a free man, marrying in 1783, at the conclusion of the Revolution.

A stone monument was erected to Peter Salem at Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1882; and Salem is pictured in the famous painting of John Trumbull titled, “The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill.”

Prince Whipple (c. 1756 – c. 1797)
Prince Whipple had been part of a wealthy (perhaps even a royal) African family. When he was ten, he was sent by his family to America for an education; but while on the voyage, he was shanghaied by the ship’s treacherous captain and sold into slavery in Baltimore. He was bought by New Hampshire ship captain William Whipple, a famous leader in that State.

William Nell, in his 1852 The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, tells the early story of Prince in America:

As was customary, Prince took the surname of his owner, William Whipple, who would later represent New Hampshire by signing the Declaration of Independence. . . . When William Whipple joined the revolution as a captain, Prince accompanied him and was in attendance to General Washington on Christmas night 1776 for the legendary and arduous crossing of the Delaware. The surprise attack following the crossing was a badly needed victory for America and for Washington’s sagging military reputation. In 1777, [William Whipple was] promoted to Brigadier General and [was] ordered to drive British General Burgoyne out of Vermont.

An 1824 work provides details of what occurred after General Whipple’s promotion:

On [his] way to the army, he told his servant [Prince] that if they should be called into action, he expected that he would behave like a man of courage and fight bravely for his country. Prince replied, “Sir, I have no inducement to fight, but if I had my liberty, I would endeavor to defend it to the last drop of my blood.” The general manumitted [freed] him on the spot.

Prince Whipple did enter the service of America as a soldier during the Revolution and is often identified in a number of early paintings of the War, including that of General Washington after crossing the Delaware. In fact, many identify Prince Whipple as the man on the oar in the front of the boat in the famous crossing of the Delaware picture painted in 1851. Although Whipple did not actually cross the Delaware with Washington in the manner depicted, he was representative of the thousands of black patriots who did fight for American independence – and of the many African Americans who did cross the Delaware with Washington.

Prince Whipple fought in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 and the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778. He directly attended General Washington and the general staff throughout the Revolution, serving as a soldier and aide at the highest levels.

Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833)
Lemuel Haynes was abandoned by his parents when he was five months old. He was taken in and apprenticed by the David Rose family. According to Haynes: “He [David Rose] was a man of singular piety. I was taught the principles of religion. His wife . . . treated me as though I was her own child.”

Haynes was given the opportunity for education – something rare for African Americans in that day. Haynes explained: “I had the advantage of attending a common school equal with the other children. I was early taught to read.” He also educated himself at night by reading in front of a fireplace. He developed a lifelong love for the Bible and theology, and even as a youth he frequently held services and preached sermons at the town parish. He also memorized massive and lengthy portions of the Bible.

In 1774 when he turned 21 and had finished his tradesman apprenticeship, he enlisted as a Minuteman in the local Connecticut militia. While he was not part of the Battle of Lexington, he did write a lengthy ballad-sermon about that famous battle. However, a week following that battle, Haynes and the Connecticut troops were part of the siege of Boston. Haynes was also part of the military expedition against Fort Ticonderoga, made legendary by Ethan Allen and the famous Green Mountain Boys. Haynes became an ardent admirer of George Washington and remained so throughout his life. In fact, Haynes regularly preached sermons on Washington’s birthday and was an active member of the Washington Benevolent Society.

After the Revolution, Haynes continued his studies in Latin, Greek, and theology and became the first African American to be ordained by a mainstream Christian denomination (the Congregationalists, in 1785), to pastor a white congregation (a congregation in Connecticut), and to be awarded an honorary Master’s Degree (by Middlebury College in 1804). Over his life, Haynes pastored several churches in Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York (often white churches), published a number of sermons, and was a confidant and counselor to the presidents of both Yale and Harvard.

Lemuel Haynes died at the age of eighty, having written the epitaph for his tombstone: “Here lies the dust of a poor helldeserving sinner, who ventured into eternity trusting wholly on the merits of Christ for salvation. In the full belief of the great doctrines he preached while on earth, he invites his children, and all who read this, to trust their eternal interest on the same foundation.”

Black Commandos
In December 1776, the secondin- command of the American Army, General Charles Lee, was taken prisoner by the British. In order for the Americans to effect his release through a prisoner exchange, a British general of the same rank was needed. A bold plan was therefore undertaken by Lt. Col. William Barton. He would slip past British forces at Newport, Rhode Island, enter the heart of the British camp, capture British General Richard Prescott in his quarters, and return him to the American side before the British learned of the raid.

Col. Barton hand-selected about forty elite soldiers, both black and white. He gathered the group, explained to them his plan, warned them of the risk, and asked for volunteers. All chose to be part of the daring operation.

Waiting until the middle of the night, the group loaded into small boats, and with muffled oars, rowed silently past General Prescott’s warships and guard boats anchored in the harbor. Landing near the general’s headquarters, the Americans quickly overpowered the guards and surrounded the house of the sleeping general. They entered his house and, standing outside his locked door, they had only to break down the door and quickly grab Prescott before he realized what had occurred.

At that moment, one of the black commandos, Prince Sisson – a powerful man – stepped forward and charged the door, using his own head as a battering ram; on the second try, the locked door gave way and Prince entered the quarters and seized the surprised general. They safely returned with Prescott to the American lines where he was subsequently exchanged for the second-in-command of the American Army, General Charles Lee. The daring act of Sisson is still celebrated to this day.

Rhode Island Fighters
The First Rhode Island was a regiment of 125 black patriots – both slave and free – commanded by Colonel Christopher Greene. That regiment, created during the infamous winter at Valley Forge, became noted for its bravery and courage, receiving its first baptism by fire during the Battle of Newport in 1778.

When reinforcements failed to arrive during that battle, the Americans were forced to retreat in the face of heavy British attacks, especially from the dreaded Hessian mercenaries. The First Rhode Island thrust themselves between the retreating Americans and the advancing Hessians and repulsed the British forces three separate times, inflicting heavy casualties on the mercenaries. (Following the battle, the Hessian commander asked to be transferred to a different location for fear that his remaining soldiers might shoot him because of the fearful losses which had been inflicted on them, and the deaths of so many of their comrades.)

In 1781 during the Battle of Croton River, Colonel Greene – commander of the regiment – was cut down by the British. William Nell, in his 1855 The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, described what next occurred:

“Colonel Greene, the commander of the regiment, was cut down and mortally wounded: but the sabres of the enemy only reached him through the bodies of his faithful guard of blacks, who hovered over him, and every one of whom was killed.”

While Colonel Greene’s squad was killed, others of the Rhode Island First survived and served the remainder of the War. A battle-hardened and loyal unit, they were with George Washington when he accepted the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown to end the Revolution.

Numerous other black patriots distinguished themselves during the American Revolution, including James Forten, Peter Poor, Cuff Smith, Cesar and Festus Prince, and thousands of others. It is appropriate that during African American history month, we should remember these great black patriots who contributed so much to the establishment of America as the foremost nation of the world.



Black History Issue 2005

African American History Month provides an excellent opportunity for WallBuilders to accomplish its mission of “presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitutional heritage.”

In this year’s issue, WallBuilders will highlight three notable (but often forgotten) ministers who were active before and during the national revival known as the Second Great Awakening (1795- 1845). These black ministers labored alongside white Christians and preached to both white and black congregations.

This should not seem unusual, however, for truly mature followers of Christ in all eras have long recognized that there are not several races but only two: the believer and the nonbeliever (Galatians 3:28 & Colossians 3:11). The stories of these three ministers are inspiring and are characterized by sacrifice and Christian courage.

African American poet James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) properly said of these ministers:

The old-time Negro preacher has not yet been given the niche in which he properly belongs. . . . It was through him that the people of diverse languages and customs, who were brought here from diverse parts of Africa and thrown into slavery, were given their first sense of unity and solidarity. He was the first shepherd of the bewildered flock. His power for good or ill was very great. It was the old-time preacher who for generations was the mainspring of hope and inspiration for the Negro in America.

The Rev. Andrew Bryan 1737-1812

Andrew Bryan was born in slavery and grew up as a slave on a plantation in South Carolina. In 1782, Andrew and his wife Hannah became Christians under the preaching of the Rev. George Liele (1752 – 1828), an African American born into slavery who ministered the Gospel to other slaves. (Liele was the first African American ordained as a Baptist preacher.) Only nine months after his conversion, Andrew – still a slave – was preaching to both black and white congregations. He evangelized slaves on neighboring plantations and erected a crude wooden church; his congregation grew rapidly, attended by both blacks and whites. On January 20, 1788, Bryan was ordained as a Baptist minister.
As a result of the rapid growth of his church, persecution was initiated by nearby slave owners who feared a revolt if slaves heard the message of freedom in the Gospel. Hundreds of converted slaves not only were denied water baptism by their masters but also were forbidden to attend Bryan’s services. Many who did attend were flogged and severely punished, and even Andrew was whipped, beaten, and imprisoned (much like Paul and Silas in Acts 16:19-25), and his church was seized. (Andrew’s master, who supported his ministry, helped arrange his release from jail.)

Was Andrew bitter at this unjust treatment? Not at all. Instead, just as Jesus had instructed in Matthew 5, Andrew exulted in his persecution, proclaiming that “he rejoiced not only to be whipped but would freely suffer death for the cause of Jesus Christ;” he also prayed for the men who had persecuted him. This Christ-like behavior in Andrew won the respect of many observers.

Upon the death of his “master” in 1790, Andrew purchased his freedom and that of his wife. In 1794, several influential whites helped him raise the money to purchase property upon which to build a new church – the Bryan Street African Baptist Church (the first black Baptist church in America). Andrew then purchased a lot near the church upon which to build his home.

Within six years, the church had grown to almost 700 members (a large church at any time, it definitely was a mega-church in that era). In 1800, the church was reorganized as the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, and one of its ministries was a black Sabbath school – the first in the city. However, because Andrew’s goal was not simply to have a large congregation and an impressive church, in 1802 he deliberately split the congregation and planted a new church: the Second African Baptist Church of Savannah (its pastor, Henry Francis, started a school in the church to educate black children). The church growth continued, and in 1803 Andrew split the church again, forming the Third African Baptist Church of Savannah. As these churches grew, their congregations pioneered churches in other parts of the State.

At that time in America’s history, Georgia was one of the most stridently pro-slavery states in America. Thomas Jefferson (who in 1783 proposed the first antislavery law in America) noted that it was the influence of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina that kept the national anti-slavery law from passing in Congress. Georgia had even been unable to provide its share of soldiers for the American
Revolution because its citizens feared that if they left their plantations to fight for American independence, their slaves would escape. Clearly, slavery was strongly embraced in Georgia, so Andrew labored in a region of the country in which ministry by – or to – African Americans was exceptionally difficult.

Nevertheless, upon Andrew’s death in 1812, the Savannah Baptist Association (comprised of the white Baptists of the city), praised Bryan’s work, proclaiming:

The Association is sensibly affected by the death of the Rev. Andrew Bryan, a man of color, and pastor of the First Colored Church in Savannah. This son of Africa, after suffering inexpressible persecutions in the cause of his divine Master, was at length permitted to discharge the duties of the ministry among his colored friends in peace and quiet, hundreds of whom, through his instrumentality, were brought to knowledge of the truth as “it is in Jesus.”

The ministry of Andrew Bryan brought thousands in Georgia to a personal relationship with God through Christ.

The Rev. “Black Harry” Hoosier (or Hosier) 1750-1810

Harry Hoosier was born a slave in North Carolina, but toward the end of the American Revolution he obtained his freedom, converted to Methodism, and became a preacher. In 1781, he delivered a sermon in Virginia entitled “The Barren Fig Tree” – the first recorded Methodist sermon by an African American. Despite the fact that Hoosier was illiterate, he became famous as a traveling evangelist and was considered one of the most popular preachers of his era. In fact, after hearing Harry preach in and around Philadelphia, Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), a signer of the Declaration of Independence and an evangelical Christian, declared that accounting for his illiteracy, Hoosier was “the greatest orator in America.”

Early in his ministry, Harry became a close associate of Bishop Francis Asbury (1745- 1816), the “Founding Father of the American Methodist Church.”

(In 1771, Asbury – an Englishman – heard an appeal from John Wesley for preachers to go to America to “spread the Word.” Asbury responded, and during the next four decades he preached almost 20,000 sermons and rode over a quarter of a million miles across America – on horseback! When Asbury first arrived, there were only 550 Methodists in America, but by the time of his death in 1816, there were 250,000 – and 700 ordained Methodist ministers. In 1924 when a statue of Bishop Asbury was erected in Washington, DC, President Calvin Coolidge declared of Asbury that “He is entitled to rank as one of the builders of our nation.”)

Hoosier and Bishop Asbury traveled and preached together, but Bishop Asbury (who drew huge crowds) remarked that Harry drew even larger crowds than he did! In fact, the Rev. Henry Boehm (1775-1875) reported: “Harry. . . . was so illiterate he could not read a word [but h]e would repeat the hymn as if reading it, and quote his text with great accuracy. His voice was musical, and his tongue as the pen of a ready writer. He was unboundedly popular, and many would rather hear him than the bishops.” Harry also traveled and preached with other popular bishops of that era, including the Rev. Richard Whatcoat (1736- 1806), the Rev. Freeborn Garretson (1752-1827), and the Rev. Thomas Coke (1747-1814). The Rev. Coke said of Asbury that, “I really believe he is one of the best preachers in the world. There is such an amazing power that attends his preaching . . . and he is one of the humblest creatures I ever saw.”

Hoosier ministered widely along the American frontier and is described by historians as “a renowned camp meeting exhorter, the most widely known black preacher of his time, and arguably the greatest circuit rider of his day.” However, he was unpopular in the South for two reasons: first, frontier Methodists such as Hoosier tended to lean Arminian in their theology, contrasted with the denominations of the South that were largely Calvinistic (e.g., Presbyterians, Reformed, Episcopalians,
Baptists, etc. – yes, the Baptists of that day were largely Calvinistic!); second, Methodists were outspoken against slavery whereas the majority of the South supported slavery. Therefore, southern groups such as the Virginia Baptists came to use the term “Hoosiers” as an insulting term of derision that they applied to Methodists like Black Harry Hoosier, meaning that they were anti-slavery in belief and Arminian in theology.

Fisk University history professor William Piersen believes that this is the source of the term “Hoosier” that was applied to the inhabitants of Indiana. Piersen explains, “Such an etymology would offer Indiana a plausible and worthy first Hoosier – ‘Black Harry’ Hoosier – the greatest preacher of his day, a man who rejected slavery and stood up for morality and the common man.”

Noted African American historian Carter Woodson reported the words of early Methodist historian John Ledman in describing the closing chapter of Harry Hoosier’s life:

After he had moved on the tide of popularity for a number of years . . . he fell by wine – one of the strong enemies of both ministers and people. And now, alas! this popular preacher was a drunken ragpicker in the streets of Philadelphia. But we will not leave him here. One evening, Harry . . . determined to remain there until his backslidings were healed. Under a tree he wrestled with God in prayer. Sometime that night, God restored to him the joys of his salvation [Psalm 51:12]. . . . About the year 1810, Harry finished his course. . . . An unusually large number of people, both white and colored, followed his body to its last resting place, in a free burying ground in Kensington [near Philadelphia].

The Rev. Harry Hoosier was used by God to draw thousands of Americans to Christ during the early decades of the Second Great Awakening.

The Rev. John Marrant 1755-1791

John Marrant was born in New York in 1755. His father died early in John’s life; and in 1766 when John was eleven, his mother sent him to Charleston, South Carolina, to live with an older sister and learn a trade. After arriving in Charleston, John had a change of plans; as he explained: “I had passed by a school and heard music and dancing, which took my fancy very much; and I felt a strong inclination
to learn the music. I went home and informed my sister that I would rather learn music than go to a trade.” John therefore undertook the study of music and became skilled with both the violin and the French horn. According to John, within two years (while he was only thirteen years of age): “I was invited to all the balls and assemblies that were held in the town, and met with general applause of the inhabitants. I was a stranger to want, being supplied with as much money as I had any occasion for.”

On his way to play at one of those musical events, John and a friend passed a crowded meetinghouse. John noticed that the large crowd was gathered around “a crazy man halloing there.” The “crazy man” was the Rev. George Whitefield, and the assembly was one of many religious meetings that occurred during the First Great Awakening – a national spiritual revival that lasted from 1730-1770.

(The Rev. George Whitefield (1714-1770) has been called the greatest evangelist of all time. Born in England, he became a missionary to America, making seven separate trips and spending nine years preaching across the country. It is estimated that he preached to nearly ten million individuals in his lifetime, with crowds of 20,000 being common and reaching as high as 100,000 (of course, there was
no sound amplification then, and it was reported that Whitefield’s natural voice could be heard up to one mile away, thus easily accommodating such crowds). Whitefield preached some 18,000 sermons in his life – an average of 500 a year, and 10 each week. Often, up to 500 hearers at a time would fall to the ground and lie prostrate under the power of his sermons.)

John’s friend who was accompanying him, wanting to disrupt Whitefield’s event, dared John to take his French horn and “blow [it] among them.” Marrant accepted the challenge; raising the horn to his lips and preparing to blow, Whitefield suddenly looked directly at John, pointed his finger at him, and announced, “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel!” Marrant immediately fell prostrate as though struck down (c.f., John 18:6 & Revelation 1:17), remaining motionless for almost half an hour. When John recovered, Whitefield ministered to the young boy and spent time with him. On the third day, Marrant committed his life to Christ and dedicated himself to Gospel ministry. (Marrant’s conversion occurred on Whitefield’s final missionary journey to America.)

An overjoyed Marrant returned to his family to share his newfound experience with them, but they rejected him. Like Moses of old (Exodus 2:15), John fled to the wilderness. There he met a Cherokee warrior and they spent ten weeks together, hunting and becoming fast friends. When they eventually returned to the Indian’s camp, Marrant was made a prisoner (the Cherokees at this time were often at war with the settlers; it was clear to the Cherokees that the black Marrant was not an Indian, so he therefore was an enemy settler).

When the Cherokee chieftain threatened John with death, John addressed the Cherokees in their own language and shared with them the Gospel of Christ. According to Marrant, “The king [the chief ] himself was awakened, and the others set at [spiritual] liberty. A great change took place among the people; the King’s house became God’s house; the soldiers were ordered away; and the poor condemned prisoner [Marrant] had perfect liberty and was treated like a prince. Now the Lord made all my enemies become my great friends.” Thus being released from his captivity, the chief granted Marrant permission to evangelize among the Cherokee – which he did for the next nine weeks, also evangelizing among the
Muskogees. As noted by African American historian Arthur Schomburg (1874-1938), Marrant was: “A Negro in America [like] the Jesuits of old, who spread the seed of Christianity among the American Indians before the birth of the American Republic.”

Following his success with his missionary endeavors, Marrant returned to his family; but they again rejected him because they now considered him too much of an Indian. Ironically, throughout his life Marrant was often faced with rejection which he overcame on each occasion: first, his family rejected his calling toward the Gospel ministry (yet he persevered and entered anyway); next, the Cherokees rejected him because he was a settler (again he overcame and evangelized among them); then, when he returned to his family, they rejected him as being too much of “a savage” in “the Indian style” (once more he persisted until he broke through the rejection and was finally reunited with his family).

Following these evangelistic efforts, Marrant agreed to work as a carpenter on a plantation near Charleston; and while working there, he evangelized among the slaves. As he explained, “During this time, I saw my call to the ministry fuller and clearer – had a feeling of concern for the salvation of my countrymen.” Sadly, however, when the mistress of the plantation found the slaves at prayer, she alerted her husband, who rounded up a posse and raided the prayer meeting. According to Marrant, “As the poor creatures came out, they caught them and tied them together with cords till the next morning, when all they caught – men, women, and children – were stripped naked and tied (their feet to a stake, their hands to the arm of a tree) and so severely flogged that the blood ran from their backs and sides to the floor, to make them promise they would leave off praying.”

All of this activity occurred before the American Revolution; and when the Revolution did commence, Marrant was impressed by the British into the navy. Following the war, he settled in England, and on May 15, 1785, was ordained as a Christian minister by the Calvinistic Methodists, a group started by George Whitefield. (Whitefield and the Wesleys worked together in forming the Methodist church, but the Wesleys became more Arminian in theology whereas Whitefield remained more Calvinistic and thus headed the Calvinistic Methodists.) Marrant continued his ministry efforts, preaching in England, then Canada, and then back in the United States. While in America, he became ill, and being in poor health, he desired to return to England to see his friends there. He died shortly thereafter at the age of thirty-six. Despite the apparent shortness of his life, Marrant nevertheless accomplished much, and was among the first African Americans to evangelize successfully among the American Indians.


These three famous ministers (the Rev. Andrew Bryan, the Rev. Harry Hoosier, and the Rev. John Marrant) were all well-known and even nationally known ministers in their day; all were extremely effective; all contributed greatly to the growth of American Christianity in particular and America in general. These three are just a few examples of the forgotten heroes and history that WallBuilders is proud to reintroduce to this generation of Americans!

Black History Issue 2006

The Civil War

Casual students of the Civil War often disagree about whether the War was fought over slavery, unjust economic policies, or “states’ rights.” Yet for millions of Americans in the 1860s, their reason for going to war is different. It can be found in a famous 1830 speech made by Daniel Webster in the US Senate.

At that time, South Carolina was threatening secession. On the floor of the Senate, Webster eloquently proved that there was no such right and that to secede would be an act of treason. (Founding Fathers such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, and others had rejected the doctrine of secession, later used by the Confederacy.) The closing words of Webster’s speech have become some of the most famous in American history:

When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union. . . . Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous [flag] of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced . . . not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured . . . [A]s they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, [may they unfurl] that sentiment dear to every true American heart: Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!

Black Americans

Liberty and Union. For millions in 1861, this was the driving motivation: Liberty (ending slavery), and Union (keeping the nation intact). Pursuing that double objective resulted in over 600,000 American lives being lost. Additionally, 410,000 were maimed and crippled. Thus, the Civil War was the bloodiest war in American history. Black Americans were not just spectators; from running the Underground Railroad to leading the charge in battle, they were often active participants.

Black Americans fought bravely in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, but their service in the Civil War silenced the myth that blacks could not perform well in battle. In fact, the battlefield bravery and tactical skill of black soldiers not only met but often surpassed that of their counterparts. And their deep Christian faith was just as visible as was their great courage.

The examples of distinguished black soldiers in the Civil War are many, but this issue will profile three heroic individuals.

Robert Smalls (1839-1916)

Robert Smalls was raised as a slave in Charleston, South Carolina, where he learned how to pilot large vessels along the Atlantic seaboard. He earned a reputation for exceptional navigational skills. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was forced into service for the Confederacy as quartermaster on the Planter, a 300-ton side-wheel steamer. As quartermaster, Smalls was in charge of the ship’s steering. He was thus the de facto pilot of the Planter, but he did not hold that title. Such an important post was not allowed a black slave in the Confederate south.

The Planter

On the evening of May 12, 1862, the Planter was docked in Charleston. The Confederate officers left the ship to attend a party onshore, leaving Smalls and the rest of the crew to ready the ship for departure the next morning. Always watchful for an opportunity to gain his freedom, and recognizing the potential in this situation, Smalls alerted the families of the crew to be in hiding nearby. Upon receiving his signal, they quickly boarded the ship.

Smalls took the wheel and quietly headed toward open sea. Knowing he would have to pilot the ship past Confederate sentinels, he donned the captain’s clothing and hoisted the Confederate flag. Moving the ship along slowly, and blowing the usual signals, Smalls was successful in not attracting unwanted attention. In fact, a Confederate soldier later reported that he saw the Planter moving but didn’t “think it necessary to stop her, presuming that she was but pursuing her usual business.”

Sneaking Past Fort Sumter

Having surmounted the dangers of the initial departure, Smalls and his crew still faced two major obstacles. The first was Fort Johnson (which Smalls safely passed, giving the customary steam-whistle salute). The second – and much more ominous threat – was Fort Sumter, the starting place of the Civil War. As the Planter approached its stark gray walls, some of Smalls’ crew urged him to turn back, fearing that the Sumter guards would board and inspect the ship.

Smalls cried out to God: “Oh, Lord, we entrust ourselves into Thy hands. Like Thou didst for the Israelites in Egypt, please stand guard over us and guide us to our promised land of freedom.” Rather than retreating, he continued bravely on. He knew that if they were stopped or shot, at least they would enter Heaven as free men.

As they approached Fort Sumter, Smalls – still wearing the familiar hat and coat of the captain – turned his back slightly to the sentry in order to obscure his own face. He then signaled with the whistle, asking for permission to pass. The crew waited in tense expectation. After what seemed like hours, the Confederate guard finally answered, “Pass the Planter!

To Freedom

Even though the most difficult part of the escape was now behind them, it was still too early to celebrate. When the Planter eventually reached the outer edge of Confederate waters, Smalls replaced the Rebel flag with a white sheet of surrender – but nearly too late. The commander of an oncoming Union vessel, the US Onward, had almost given the command to fire on the Planter before recognizing the flag of truce. He guided his ship alongside the Planter and the Union crew boarded the vessel. When they asked for the captain, Smalls proudly answered, “I have the honor, sir, to present the Planter, formerly the flagship of General Ripley!

The ship was now in Union hands. Even more valuable to the Union was Smalls’ extensive knowledge of Confederate placements around Charleston. Upon delivering the ship, Smalls explained with a wry smile, “I thought they might be of some service to Uncle Abe.”

The Union Navy

President Lincoln personally invited Robert Smalls to Washington, where he and his crew were recognized for their bravery. Smalls was then commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the 33rd Regiment of United States Colored Troops. (For a black American to be commissioned as an officer was extremely rare and was an exceptional honor. At that time, most officers – even of black troops – were white.)

After receiving his commission, Smalls was made the official pilot of the Planter, now sailing for the Union. The Planter was assigned to transport service, delivering supplies along the coastal waterway near Charleston.

On a routine trip in November 1863, the Planter came under Confederate bombardment. The shelling proved so intense that the Union captain of the ship panicked, wanting to surrender. Smalls refused, knowing that he and the crew would be killed if captured. (The Confederacy had issued orders that blacks who surrendered were to be put to death on the spot.) The frightened Captain fled below deck, leaving Smalls in charge. He brought the ship safely through the shelling, landing amidst the cheers of thousands gathered at the dock awaiting the supplies. Union Major General Quincy Gillmore promoted Smalls to Captain, a position he held until the end of the war. Smalls eventually rose to the rank of Major General in the South Carolina Militia.

In Congress

After the War, Smalls was elected as a Republican to the South Carolina House. He was later elected to the United States Congress, where he served for nine years. As a Member of Congress, he pursued equal treatment for black Americans. As he explained: “My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.”

Robert Smalls was a strong Christian, whose faith was evident in both the military and the political arena.

Andre Cailloux (1825-1863)

Andre Cailloux was a member of the Afro-Creole community of New Orleans. (The Afro-Creoles were French in language and culture, and Roman Catholic in faith.) Cailloux was a pioneer in black American military history. Although born into slavery, he received his freedom in 1846. He then quickly began to make his mark as a leader within what was considered one of the most prosperous black regions in the nation. Cailloux received a formal education. He later married, purchased a home, and bought his mother out of slavery. He also sent his sons to a prestigious school and was elected to various posts within the Afro-Creole community.

During the Civil War

At the outbreak of the Civil War, most battlefield activity initially occurred far from Louisiana, in the North and the East. With the Union’s desire to break the communication and supply lines of the Confederates, gaining control of the Mississippi River became a priority. In April 1862, the Union army captured New Orleans. It authorized the formation of the Louisiana Native Guards: black Americans from New Orleans who would fight for the Union.

In 1862, Cailloux was commissioned as captain of E Company in the 1st Regiment of Louisiana Native Guards. This was the first black regiment officially recognized for military service in the Civil War. Upon receiving his commission, Cailloux began recruiting both free men of color and runaway slaves from the New Orleans region.

An imposing figure in character and stature, Cailloux was a direct visual repudiation to the image of black servility, inferiority, and cowardice long perpetuated by racists. His gentlemanly demeanor, athletic build, and keen intelligence gave him a confidence and charisma that made him a natural to help lead the newly formed Louisiana Native Guards.

Cailloux and his men faced many challenges – and not all from their Confederate enemy. Too often they had to endure insults from white troops, insufficient supplies (less than what their white counterparts often received), and excessive manual labor pushed on them by lazy soldiers. Nevertheless, they continued to train, anxious to prove their mettle on the battlefield.

Ultimate Sacrifice

That opportunity arrived in May 1863. The Confederate stronghold of Port Hudson on the Mississippi River (north of Baton Rouge) was under siege. The forces were led by Union General Nathaniel P. Banks. The 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards was assigned to Banks and were chosen to mount an attack on the heavily fortified bluffs and rifle pits protecting Port Hudson. It was a critical but dangerous assignment. Cailloux’s E Company was designated to lead the charge as the standard bearer for the entire regiment.

As the regiment took the field, Cailloux encouraged his men with calm words of assurance. They charged and were met by extremely heavy Confederate fire. Cailloux and the other officers regrouped and rallied their men on several occasions. At last, Cailloux led a charge all the way to the backwater of the Port, just 200 yards shy of the bluffs. He and his men finally got off a round of musket shot, only to be answered with a wave of Confederate artillery. Their losses were heavy; and Cailloux himself was wounded, taking a bullet through his arm just above his elbow. He rallied his men once again and charged across the muddy waters toward the bluffs, his useless arm dangling beside him. This charge was his final heroic act; he received a fatal blow in the head from an enemy shell.

All along the line, Union forces were pushed back with heavy casualties. Both the 1st and the 3rd Regiments were finally forced to break ranks and seek shelter in the surrounding willow trees. Nevertheless, the bravery of Andre Cailloux did not go unnoticed, or the actions of so many of his troops who fought fiercely against overwhelming odds.

Black Soldiers in the Civil War

The story of Cailloux and his men quickly spread across the North. The false stereotype had been shattered and the black soldier was now viewed as a valuable and integral part of the war. This reputation was strengthened with the accomplishments of the Native Guards’ counterparts in the North, the Massachusetts 54th. By the end of the Civil War, some 180,000 black Americans had fought in the United States Armed Forces.

Andre Cailloux – a hero in New Orleans – received a hero’s funeral. He laid in-state for four days, watched over by a military guard. His funeral procession was led by a band of musicians playing somber dirges followed by a horse-drawn, tasseled caisson with Cailloux’s body. Mourners lined the streets for almost a mile along the funeral route, holding tiny American flags as his remains rolled by. The attack in which Cailloux lost his life had been unsuccessful. (As was a subsequent attack two weeks later.) Union General Banks eventually pulled back and laid siege to Port Hudson, forcing their surrender a month-and-a-half later. That surrender was considered one of the Confederacy’s most devastating defeats, opening the Mississippi River to Union troop and supply movements.

Over 12,000 lives were lost at Port Hudson. 5,000 of which were Union deaths with many occurring during the initial attack led by Cailloux. Nevertheless, the attack had not only produced the first black hero of the Civil War, it also proved the strength and courage of black American troops. Thus firmly cementing their permanent place in future American military service.

William Carney (1840-1908)

Sergeant William H. Carney – another black American renowned for his heroism – was born into slavery in Norfolk, Virginia. While William was still a boy, his father escaped to freedom on the Underground Railroad. He soon purchased the family out of slavery and brought them to New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, black Americans – both slave and free – believed that God would use President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant to bring them freedom in the same way that God had used Moses to lead the Israelites out of captivity. Viewing abolition as a spiritual mission made black Americans all the more eager to help, thereby hastening the arrival of freedom.

Joining the US Military

In 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The Union Army also began actively recruiting black volunteers. William understood the powerful spiritual dimension of emancipation and eagerly enlisted. This decision sprang from his deep Christian convictions. As he explained: “Previous to the formation of colored troops, I had a strong inclination to prepare myself for the ministry; but when the country called for all persons, I could best serve my God [by] serving my country and my oppressed brothers.”

Carney joined the Morgan Guards, who later became part of the Massachusetts 54th (featured in the 1989 movie Glory). The regiment was led by the 25 year-old white Colonel Robert Shaw, son of prominent Boston abolitionists. The all-black 54th had freeborn men and former slaves, including two sons of Frederick Douglass who played a major role in establishing the 54th. Upon completing their training, the 54th was assigned to attack Fort Wagner, South Carolina.

Fort Wagner

On the evening of July 18, 1863, the 600 men of the 54th lay along the sandy beach 1,000 yards from Fort Wagner. Chosen to lead the charge, they were awaiting orders to move out. Union guns had pounded the Confederate stronghold all day long, attempting to weaken its defenses. That evening, the order to advance finally came.

The men set with fixed bayonets, running toward the enemy. But the Union bombardment had failed to weaken the gun emplacements, so the 54th ran into heavy Confederate cannon fire and torrents of bullets. They suffered extensive casualties. Among those who fell was Sergeant John Wall, the carrier of the United States flag. Sergeant William Carney, who had been running next to Wall, dropped his rifle and caught the flag before it could hit the ground.

Protecting the Flag

As Carney carried the flag, he was shot in the leg, but he continued to lead the attack. Ignoring the searing pain, he and his forces pushed forward and were able to gain control of a small part of the fort. Carney proudly planted the American flag and held his position against the wall of Fort Wagner for nearly half an hour through hand-to-hand combat. In the darkness of the night, Carney saw troops moving toward him and made the mistake of believing them to be fellow Union fighters. Suddenly surrounded by Confederate soldiers, he quickly wrapped the flag around its staff as his unit fell back down the embankment.

Retreating across the chest high water, he held the flag high. He was shot twice more, once in the chest and again in the leg. Still, he continued on, resolved not to let the flag fall. A member of another regiment pleaded with the injured Carney to let him carry the flag, but he quickly replied, “No one but a member of the 54th should carry the colors.” Carney was shot again (for the fourth time), this time narrowly escaping death as the bullet creased his skull. At last he reached the safety of what remained of the 54th. He proclaimed breathlessly before collapsing, “Boys, I only did my duty. The flag never touched the ground.”

After the Battle

The attack against Fort Wagner was unsuccessful, and the battle was a defeat for the Union. The total lives lost that day were 351, only twelve of whom had been Confederates. But the 54th had acquitted itself courageously, just like their counterparts in the Louisiana Native Guards.

On May 23, 1900, Sergeant William Harvey Carney was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. (Several black Americans had already received the prestigious award for gallantry in both the Civil War and the subsequent western Indian Campaigns. However, Carney’s heroism at Fort Wagner was the earliest action of the Civil War to be recognized.)

He died eight years later in New Bedford, still strong in his Christian faith. His grave is marked with a gold image of his nation’s highest award for valor in battle.


The list of black American heroes of the Civil War is long and impressive. All the more impressive is that many of these men not only fought bravely against the enemy but also against occasional racism in their own army. Admirably, their response to racist opposition did not include personal animosity, bitterness, or hate, but rather an increased determination to prove wrong the misconceptions. In fact, to have harbored destructive feelings of ill-will would have violated their strong Christian faith. They lived by Biblical admonitions such as those delivered long before by the Rev. Richard Allen (himself a former slave), who had urged:

[L]et no rancor or ill-will lodge in your [heart] for any bad treatment you may have received from any. If you do, you transgress against God, Who will not hold you guiltless. He would not suffer it even in His beloved people Israel; and you think He will allow it unto us? . . . I am sorry to say that too many think more of the evil than of the good they have received.

The illustrious stories of Robert Smalls, Andre Cailloux, and William Carney are the stories of heroes who not only followed the teachings of Christianity but who also fought with exceptional courage, doing the work of the Lord in “Liberty and Union.”

“Be strong and of a good courage;
fear not, nor be afraid of them,
for the Lord thy God –
He it is that doth go with thee;
He will not fail thee
nor forsake thee.”
Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9

A Southern View of Black History?

Today, most Americans are taught Black History from a southern point of view. That is, they are exposed to the slave trade and the atrocities of slavery that were common in the South but hear nearly nothing about the many positive things that occurred in the North.

For example, who has been taught about Wentworth Cheswell1 — the first black elected to office in America, in 1768 in New Hampshire? Or the election of Black American Thomas Hercules to office in Pennsylvania in 1793? Or that in Massachusetts, blacks routinely voted in colonial elections? Or that when the Constitution was ratified in Maryland, more Blacks than Whites voted in Baltimore? Such stories are absent from textbooks today.

History is properly to teach the good, the bad, and the ugly — all of it; but students today usually get only the bad and the ugly, rarely the good. For example, students are regularly told that the first load of slaves sailed up the James River in Virginia in 1619 and thus slavery was introduced into America,2 but few learn about the first slaves that arrived in the Massachusetts Colony set up by the Christian Pilgrims and Puritans. When that slave ship arrived in Massachusetts, the ship’s officers were arrested and imprisoned, and the kidnapped slaves were returned to Africa at the Colony’s expense.3 That positive side of history is untold today.

Similarly, most Americans are unaware that American colonies passed anti-slavery laws before the American Revolution, but that those laws were vetoed by Great Britain, who insisted on the continuance of slavery in America. In fact, several Founders who owned slaves while British citizens freed them once America declared her independence. Sadly, we have been taught to identify Founding Fathers who owned slaves but are unaware of the greater number who opposed slavery or worked with anti-slavery societies.

WallBuilders owns numerous documents showing these positive aspects of Black History, including of praiseworthy efforts to end oppression of African Americans.

For example, the 1774 letter on the right is from Quaker John Townsend, who wrote to inquire after an African slave he had earlier sold. He wanted to reacquire that slave in order to “have the opportunity to set her free.” (The Quakers, like several colonial denominations, firmly opposed slavery and pushed their members to do all possible to end the evil.)

In this 1782 document, Christopher Johnson, a soldier in the American Revolution, declares that he is “fully persuaded that freedom is the natural rights of all mankind & that it is my duty to do unto others as I would desire to be done by in the like situation.” Having fought a war to win his own political freedom, and invoking the Golden Rule delivered by Jesus in Matthew 7:12, he freed (that is, manumitted) his slaves.

In this 1837 document, Dorcas, a Black American who is “a free woman of color,” petitions the court to recognize the legality of two slaves that were freed. According to the Tennessee Act of 1831,4 freed slaves were required to move out of the state, but the subsequent act of 18335 permitted slaves to remain in the state if they had received their freedom prior to 1831. In her letter, Dorcas affirms that “the said two slaves, Warner and Nancy” had received “their freedom long before the passage of the act of 1831” and asks the court to take appropriate action for ensuring their freedom.

On our website, there are many more such documents and many inspiring stories, illustrating a side of Black History of which few Americans are told today


1 “A Black Patriot: Wentworth Cheswell,” WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/resource/a-black-patriot-wentworth-cheswell/.
2 “Slavery,” Harper’s Encyclopaedia of United States History, ed. Benson Lossing (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1974); W. O. Blake, The History of Slavery and the Slave Trade (Columbus: J. & H. Miller, 1858), 98.
3 Blake, History of Slavery (1858), 370-371; Thomas R.R. Cobb, An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery (Philadelphia: T. & J. W. Johnson & Co., 1858), I:cxlvii-cxlviii; W. E. Burghardt DuBois, The Suppression of the AfricanSlave-Trade to the United States of America (New York: Social Science Press, 1954), 30.
4 “Emancipation: 1831–Chapter 102,” A Compilation of the Statutes of Tennessee, Of a General and Permanent Nature, From the Commencment of the Government to the Present Time, eds. R. L. Caruthers & A. O. P. Nicholson (Nashville: James Smith, 1836), 279.
5 “An Act to explain an act, entitled “an act concerning free persons of color, and for other purpose,” passed December 16, 1831,” November 23, 1833, Public Acts Passed at the First Session of the Twentieth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee 1833 (Nashville: Allen A. Hall & F. S. Heiskell, 1833), 99-100.

John Quincy Adams – Abolitionist, President, & Father

john-quincy-adams-abolitionist-president-father-1Black History Month is a special time to focus on black history, which interestingly often involves not just Black Americans but also those of other races. As famous Black American minister Richard Allen reminded his brethren during the Founding Era, “Many of the white people have been instruments in the hands of God for our good [and] are now pleading our cause with earnestness and zeal.” [1]

John Quincy Adams was one of the many Americans who had a direct hand in shaping black history for the good. (By the way, to learn about many of America’s remarkable untold black heroes, check out our website section on Black History.)

Adams spent nearly seven decades in public service for America, including as a foreign diplomat, Secretary of State, U. S. Senator, President of the United States, and then as the only President to serve as a US Congressman after his Presidency. [2] He became famous for introducing anti-slavey petitions into what was at that time a pro-slavery Congress. In fact, his fellow Congressmen were so disgusted with these petitions that they enacted a “gag-rule” banning the introduction of any petition addressing the abolition of slavery.  But Adams persisted and was so relentless in the pursuit of liberty and equality for Black Americans that he became known as “The Hellhound of Abolition.” [3]

john-quincy-adams-abolitionist-president-father-3Adams also led the legal defense of the African slaves in the famous Amistad case [4] llater made a Hollywood movie starring Anthony Hopkins). The Amistad was a Spanish ship carrying newly enslaved Africans, who revolted during the voyage, killed the captain, and took over the boat. The ship was brought to port in the United States, where the Spanish survivors charged the Africans with mutiny and murder. John Quincy Adams successfully defended them before the U. S. Supreme Court, which declared the Africans free. These Africans were later transported safely back to the freedom of their homes in Africa. [5]

John Quincy Adams’ firm position in behalf of the equality of all men, regardless of color, was drawn especially from Bible teachings. In fact, he specifically cited Jesus’ teaching in Luke 4 as an authority for his position against slavery. Not surprisingly, Adams openly stressed the importance of reading the Bible.

In fact, when he had been a diplomat serving under President James Madison, Adams wrote a series of nine letters to his son instructing him on the importance of reading the Bible and how to get the most from his reading. A public demand for these letters led to their 1848 publication as a book for young Americans.


[1] Richard Allen, The Life Experience and Gospel Labors of the Right Rev. Richard Allen (New York: Abingdon Press, 1983), p. 73, from his “Address to the People of Color in the United States.
[2] Appletons’ Cyclopedia of American Biography (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1889), Vol. I, s.v. “John Quincy Adams.” See also, American President, “John Quincy Adams,” The Miller Center (accessed: February 5, 2015), “John Quincy Adams,” National Historic Park, (accessed: February 5, 2015).
[3] History, Art & Archives, “The House ‘Gag Rule’,” United States House of Representatives (accessed: February 5, 2015). See also, Appletons’ Cyclopedia of American Biography (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1889), Vol. I, s.v. “John Quincy Adams;” John Quincy Adams, The Diary of John Quincy Adams, Allan Nevins, editor (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1929), p. 525, June 11, 1841; James Schouler, History of the United States of America Under the Constitution (New York: Dodd, Meade, and Company, 1889), Vol. IV, pp. 423-424.
[4]Teaching with Documents: The Amistad Case,” National Archives (accessed: February 5, 2015).
[5]Teaching with Documents: The Amistad Case,” National Archives (accessed: February 5, 2015). See also, Office of the Historian, “Milestones 1830-1860: The Amistad Case, 1839,” U.S. Department of State (accessed: February 5, 2015).

Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Black History Month comes to a close, let us take time to reflect on a man who is remembered for his efforts to ensure equal rights for people of all nationalities. The name of Martin Luther King Jr. is well known today, and while most citizens know something about him and what he did, there is much about which most citizens know very little today, perhaps because of the overt Christian nature of his message and work (some of which you will see below).

Born in Atlanta in 1929 into a family of preachers, both his father and grandfather were ordained ministers of the Gospel. At the age of fifteen, he entered Morehouse College, then Crozer Theological Seminary, before earning his doctorate at Boston University.1

While pastoring the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, King was chosen as leader of Montgomery’s Bus boycott, a movement begun by the Rosa Parks incident in 1955. During this time, his house was firebombed, and he was arrested.2

He continued to advance the non-violent Civil Rights movement, and in 1964 won the Nobel peace prize for his work, becoming (at 35 years old) the youngest recipient of this award.3

The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights was an organization he worked closely with in Birmingham.4  Below is their Ten Commandments Pledge that each member signed upon joining. Nine of these ten should still be followed by every citizen today!



1  “Martin Luther King, Jr.: Biographical Sketch,” Louisiana State University, accessed December 18, 2023;”Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Nobel Prize, accessed December 18, 2023.
2 Martin Luther King, Jr., Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborn Carson (New York: Warner Books, 1998), ch. 8.
3Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Nobel Prize (accessed February 12, 2015).
4 Andrew Manis, “Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights,” Encyclopedia of Alabama (August 27, 2014).

It Happened in March

There are two specific March “firsts” from American history that center on presidential appointments.

On March 22, 1790, Thomas Jefferson began serving as America’s first Secretary of State under the Constitution. This appointment had been made by President George Washington and approved by the U. S. Senate in September of 1789.1 As the Secretary of State, Jefferson’s primary job to be “the president’s chief foreign affairs adviser.”2 He also took on other major responsibilities as well — such as laying out the grounds for the brand new federal capital that was to be build in Washington, DC.
it-happened-in-march-2On March 18, 1877, Frederick Douglass became the first African American confirmed by the U. S. Senate to serve in a presidential appointment.3 He had been selected by President Rutherford B. Hayes to be the Marshal of Washington, D.C  — a position established to “support the federal courts.”4 His responsibilities included serving “the subpoenas, summonses, writs, warrants and other process issued by the courts, [making] all the arrests and [handling] all the prisoners.”5 Prior to this appointment, Douglass had held various positions under previous presidents, but none had required Senate confirmation. In all, Douglass served under four Republican presidents.6


1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, “The Early Republic, 1784-1789,” Library of Congress, accessed on March 18, 2015; “Former Secretaries of State,” U.S. Department of State (accessed on March 18, 2015); Office of the Historian, “A Short History of the Department of State,” U.S. Department of State, accessed on March 18, 2015.
2Duties of the Secretary of State,” U.S. Department of State, January 20, 2009.
3Frederick Douglass,” White House Historical Association, accessed on March 18, 2015.
4History – Broad Range of Authority,” U.S. Marshals Service, accessed on March 18, 2015.
5History – Broad Range of Authority,” U.S. Marshals Service, accessed on March 18, 2015.
6People: Frederick Douglass,” National Park Service, accessed on March 18, 2015.