Lives of Infamous Men: old Harry, a slave preacher

From  the Southern Cultivator of June, 1851, an article signed “A Minister of the Gospel” relates the following tale of a slave he refers to as “old Harry,” who presumed to speak against his master, if ever so slightly, in the name of a higher Master:

Another fact, equally notorious, is, that on almost every large plantation of Negroes, there is one among them who holds a kind of magical sway over the minds and opinions of the rest; to him they look as their oracle,—and this same oracle, though most generally a preacher is, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the most consummate villain and hypocrite on the premises. It is more than likely that he has seen sundry miraculous visions, equal to those of John on the isle of Patmos; angels have talked with him, &c &c. The influence of such a Negro on a quarter is incalculable. He steals his master’s pigs, and is still an object commanding the peculiar regard of Heaven, and why many not his disciplines? It may be, and in most cases this influence is, such an obstacle in the way of the missionary, that he can accomplish but little unless his preaching is in unison with the theology of this sage old Doctor of Divinity.

Rev. W. W., an aged and talented Minister of the Gospel had charge of a colored mission some years ago. One Sabbath morning, on going to his appointment at the plantation of Mr ——, he was met by old Harry who had news to tell of a most important character. Said he: “Brudder W., de Lod came down las night ‘pon de top of de house and he call—‘Harry, Harry;’ I say ‘Here me Lod.’ He say—‘Harry, Mista W. and Mista S nebber preach de gospel yet – Hurry, you mus go and preach my gospel.’”

These things show the importance of using every effort within our reach to counteract these influences and to have them properly instructed in the true doctrine and precepts of Chirstianity; and though but little may be done for the adults, much may be done and is doing for the young ones by use of Dr. CAPERS’ catechisms, orally taught.

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