In a chain of columns released within the African American newspaper The Christian Recorder, the younger, charismatic preacher Henry McNeal Turner defined his event of the Civil battle, first from the point of view of a civilian observer in Washington, D.C., and later, as one of many Union army’s first black chaplains.
In the halls of Congress, Turner witnessed the debates surrounding emancipation and black enlistment. As military chaplain, Turner dodged “grape” and cannon, comforted the unwell and wounded, and settled disputes among white southerners and their former slaves. He was once dismayed through the destruction left through Sherman’s military within the Carolinas, yet buoyed through the bravery displayed via black infantrymen in conflict. After the conflict ended, he helped identify church buildings and colleges for the freedmen, who formerly were prohibited from attending either.
Throughout his columns, Turner evinces his enterprise trust within the absolute equality of blacks with whites, and insists on civil rights for all black electorate. In brilliant, certain prose, laced with a mix of trenchant remark and self-deprecating humor, Turner tested himself as greater than an observer: he turned a particular and authoritative voice for the black group, and a pace-setter within the African Methodist Episcopal church. After Reconstruction failed, Turner grew to become disappointed with the yankee dream and have become a vocal suggest of black emigration to Africa, prefiguring black nationalists similar to Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. right here, even if, we see Turner’s younger exuberance and optimism, and his open-eyed ask yourself on the momentous adjustments occurring in American society.
Well-known in his day, Turner has been relegated to the fringes of African American heritage, largely simply because neither his perspectives nor the varieties during which he expressed them have been famous by way of both the black or white elite. With an advent through Jean Lee Cole and a foreword by way of Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Freedom’s Witness: The Civil warfare Correspondence of Henry McNeal Turner restores this crucial determine to the historic and literary record.