committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

CHAPTER X.

Rev. Andrew C. Marshall.

                Rev. Marshall was born about 1775 in South Carolina. He was the nephew of Rev. Andrew Bryan. He was, it is said, pastor of the First African Baptist Church for forty-four years, but this is hardly correct, for from the death of Rev. Andrew Bryan to the death of Rev. Marshall was just forty-four years. It is more than likely that some time elapsed before he was installed as pastor at the death of his uncle. The statement respecting Rev. Marshall is very conflicting. The above reference to his birth is according to Dr. Cathcart. We subjoin a statement that was written by a friend who claimed to have been acquainted with the facts in the case and who lived in the days of Rev. Marshall.

        "Rev. Andrew C. Marshall was born in Bryan county, Ga., December 25th, 1745. In 1785 he became a member of the church, being baptized by his uncle, Rev. Andrew Bryan, pastor of the First African Baptist Church. A few years after he was licensed to preach the gospel, after which he was ordained as an evangelist. He preached in the Second African Baptist Church for nine years. In the year 1808 he took pastoral care of the First African Baptist Church, in which he had been pastor for forty-eight years. From the time of his conversion he was used as an instrument in the hands of God of doing much good. He heard the conversion of 4,000 concerning the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ; he baptized 3,776; he married 2,400; he buried 2,040.

         "Andrew C. Marshall was born a slave. He has traveled over a great part of the United States. He has by industry succeeded in purchasing himself and done many benevolent acts among his color, and has given to different institutions several thousand dollars. The venerable Father in Israel, Andrew C. Marshall, died in Richmond, Virginia, December 7th, 1856, while returning from the North to the people of his charge. For nearly or quite half a century he was a laborious and indefatigable workman in the vineyard of his Master. For many years he was the leading religious spirit among his colored brethren and maintained what he so well deserved, the respect and confidence of the whole community. Full of years, however, and full of honors, he has obeyed the welcome summons, 'Come up,' and died at the age of 110; and up to the time of his death he could discharge his duty as pastor of the church. His remains were brought to Savannah at the expense of the congregation, the funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. Thomas Rambeau, and deposited in his own vault. He is now succeeded by one of his own students, Rev. William Campbell."

        Rev. Marshall must have been born later than 1775. If Cathcart's account is true that he was body guard to George Washington while in Savannah during the war, the war commenced in 1775 and lasted eight years, so Cathcart's account of the birth of Rev. Marshall can not be true. In fact, little if anything he says about this church is true. Rev. Marshall must have been born about 1745, as said of him.

        Cathcart says he became pastor of the First African Baptist Church in 1808, and yet he says that "Rev. Andrew Bryan continued its pastor until his death in October, 1812." This is very contradictory. It is said on Rev. Marshall's epitaph in the church to-day that he was pastor of the First African Baptist

        1. The reader will observe the contradiction in the place and time of the birth of Rev. A. C. Marshall.

        2. It will be seen also that the First African Baptist Church was not organized when Rev. Marshall is said to have been baptized (1785), having been organized in 1788.

        3. It is clear that Rev. Marshall was never pastor of the Second African Baptist Church. If he preached in said church nine years and resigned it in 1808, it will be seen that he took charge of said church in 1799, which was three years before the Second African Baptist Church was organized, being organized in 1802. 

Church for forty-four years. If he was pastor of the First African Baptist Church in 1808, having served the Second African Baptist Church nine years, this would make him begin his pastorate with the Second African Baptist Church in 1799. This was quite three years before the Second African Baptist Church was organized. It was organized December 26th, 1802 and Rev. Henry Cunningham was ordained January 1st, 1803, and called to be its pastor. He served it continuously until 1831 or 1832, a period of twenty-eight or twenty-nine years. Hence Rev. Marshall was never pastor of the Second African Baptist Church since he served the First African Baptist Church from about 1812 to 1856, and since Rev. Henry Cunningham preceded him to the saints' reward about twenty-five years. Rev. Marshall bought himself and accumulated property very rapidly. He was a man of a large heart, iron will and an unflinching courage. He feared nothing and nobody that stood in his way to right. He had many good books which he read. His information was broad. He comprehended the precepts of the gospel, thought for himself, and never feared to proclaim his views. He understood the government of the Baptist Church and by that he was willing to die. He had much trouble, as our readers must have discovered ere this. He built a large, brick house on Bryan street, in Yamacraw, and had much trouble about it from the report that he bought stolen bricks. The prejudice was very high against him and the church was closed for six months on account of this. In 1825, Rev. Marshall preached all of his spare time from his church as missionary to the negro Baptist Churches in the bounds of the Sunsbury Association and refused pay when it was offered to him. He was a great preacher, and controlled the people as if by magic. His people were willing to die with him. Wherever he went to preach crowds, white and black, flocked to hear him. His preaching was of the old school order, purely textual and abounded in numerous quotations. He believed the Bible was its best interpreter and hence he always strove to make scripture explain scripture. He seemed to have eaten up the Bible. His voice was strong and powerful and at his perfect control. He could make it so pathetic as to melt his congregation to tears at will. He was humorous and wonderfully witty and extremely eloquent. Those who went to hear him never regretted it, and could never forget him. He preached extensively in Georgia--at Augusta, Macon and many other places. The Georgia Legislature adjourned a session and invited him to address the body. As a friend he was true; as an antagonist he was powerful and foxy; as a planner and debater his equals were few in any country, among any people; as a financier he was successful; as a gentleman he was upright, and as a Christian he was humble and forgiving.

        After the split of 1832, when the disaffected members had withdrawn and formed the Third African Baptist Church, now the First Bryan Baptist Church, his people were more attentive to him, obeyed him unhesitatingly, and loved him more as the years passed by. He possessed a wonderful knowledge of men and had a strange influence over them. He saw much of the excitement of the Revolutionary war and was honored as body servant of George Washington while he was in Savannah. This we get from Dr. Cathcart's Encyclopedia of the Baptists, the accuracy of which is, at least, questionable. Yet if he was born in 1745 he would have been old enough.

        We have found several of his statements contradictory. He says that Rev. Marshall became pastor of the Second African Baptist Church in 1806, and we think it clear that he was never pastor of that church. Many of the members who were baptized by Rev. Marshall, and a deacon who served under him, are still alive, who affirm that he was never pastor of that church. There never has lived a negro in Savannah who was the equal of Rev. Mr. Marshall. Through his skill and wonderful executive ability the site at Franklin Square was paid for, and he laid the foundation for the present beautiful edifice. While men loved him, they feared him and quaked before him. Little preachers in that day who could do passably well otherwise would cave in in the presence of Rev. Marshall and make a complete failure. Yet he was friendly, sympathetic and kind. But as kindness generally breeds fear, he was possessed of much kindness and hence was feared accordingly. When he had well nigh strained his people for money he went North for the purpose of begging money to complete his church. His success is not known. Returning he got as far as Richmond, Va., where he died, full of honors, full of good works, full of hope and full of faith. The church sent Rev. W. J. Campbell to bring his remains to Savannah. His sorrowing people honored in every possible way the remains of this venerable father. Many white people followed this aged saint to his last resting place. Thus ended the long and useful life of one of the greatest men in the American pulpit.

        1st. If Rev. Marshall was born in 1775 he could not have witnessed much about the exciting events of the Revolutionary War, which commenced in 1775.

        2d. If he was born in 1775 he may have been "converted and joined the church in 1785," as Dr. Cathcart says, but it was very rare in those days for negroes to join the church at ten years of age, and certainly he could not have been "licensed to preach not long after." The Dr. is mistaken.

 

We insert from Sprague's Annals of the American Baptist Pulpit the following:

ANDREW C. MARSHALL--1786-1856.

[From the Rev. J. P. Tustin, D. D.]

CHARLESTON, S. C., January 15, 1859.

Rev. And Dear Sir:

         My ecclesiastical connection with Andrew C. Marshall and his church placed me, for several years, in constant communication with him. Having also to act as a legal security to meet the municipal ordinances of Savannah and the State of Georgia, with regards to colored preachers, I had much to do in matters of counsel and discipline in his church. The sources of information relative to the following memoir have been often attested by communication with the older members of the Georgia Historical Society, and with many of the oldest and most respectable citizens of that State. I am happy to be able to give you these memorabilia of one of the most remarkable colored men who have appeared in our modern times.

        Andrew C. Marshall, late pastor of the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, has deservedly become a celebrity in the annals of the American Baptist Church. During the last quarter of a century his name gradually attracted public attention, until at length it was known in distant parts of the country, and even across the Atlantic. Several of the most lively sketches of him which appeared were given by authors whose works are current in various languages. Among these is the account of Sir Charles Lyell in his volumes published after his second scientific tour in the United States. Miss Fredrika Brenner, in her American tours, has presented a striking portraiture of him. Within the last few years of his life, almost every intelligent stranger who might be visiting Savannah, was likely to seek out or to hear this venerable preacher, and the sketches thus frequently produced were widely circulated by the religious press of various denominations, and some of the leading secular papers in Northern cities had occasionally contributed to spread his fame.

        The most noteworthy fact which made Mr. Marshall so celebrated in his later years, was his reputed great age. During his visit through the Northern States in the summer and fall of 1856, the last year of his life, the previously received version of his extreme age was extensively repeated, and has not been discredited. Some years previous to that time I had as a tribute to the cause of science, attempted to collect and sift the evidence about this story, which, if only apocryphal, would mislead persons engaged in ethnological and historical researches. Literary and scientific gentlemen had frequently made reference to Mr. Marshall, as an important physical phenomenon.

        With no wish to detract from a story of popular interest, but, nevertheless, with a strong desire to arrive at perfect accuracy, I sought all the sources available to myself for testing the question of Mr. Marshall's age. Several lines of investigation were followed, which partly tended at first to fix his age from ten to fifteen years below what was commonly assigned to him, and claimed by himself.

        One of these lines of investigation was in the personal recollections of the late Hon. John Macpherson Berrien, so well known as United States Senator and Attorney General of the United States. Judge Berrien was educated for the bar by Judge Clay, of Bryan county, Georgia, by whom Andrew C. Marshall was owned as a slave, while Mr. Berrien was a member of the family. Mr. Berrien was born August 23, 1781, and after graduating at Princeton, commenced the practice of law in Georgia at the age of eighteen years, which was near the time when Mr. Marshall began his efforts at preaching. With his great name for integrity and accuracy, Judge Berrien would not be considered likely to give countenance to any opinion which was unsupported by valid evidence. His recollections of Andrew C. Marshall's appearance could hardly be reconciled with the account which must have made him a person of fifty years of age when Mr. Berrien first knew him as a coachman. But it was at most a matter of impression with Mr. Berrien, that Andrew was at that period not more than a middle-aged man. Judge Berrien's impression can be accounted for by the fact that this remarkable African always carried his age so remarkably well, even at a century.

        The late venerable Mr. Miller, familiarly known in Georgia as "Cotton Miller," from his having been the first person who sent the first bale of cotton to Savannah for shipment, was also of the opinion that Mr. Marshall's age should have been placed several years below what was commonly assigned to him, and by him. Guided by such cautious and accurate men, who thus seemed to discredit a popular and universally received version, it fell to my lot, some years ago, while acting as one of the Secretaries of the Georgia Historical Society, to examine Mr. Marshall more closely than ever, as to his personal history, and to compare the results of these interrogatories with other collateral evidence. Being charged with the duty, in behalf of the literary representative and grandson of Gen. Nathaniel Green, of the Revolutionary army, of identifying the spot where that hero was buried in Savannah, I found Andrew C. Marshall to be a most useful adviser on points which put at once his veracity and his accuracy of recollection to the closest tests. Some of his statements as to his age at the time of Gen. Greene's death, which occurred in 1786, at first seemed to confirm the impression of Judge Berrien and Mr. Miller, already referred to. On a review, however, of that case, it appears that these interrogatories were conducted too much in the manner of a cross-examination by a special pleader; and Mr. Marshall's confusion of mind or apparent inaccuracy as to dates, could be sufficiently explained by his want of familiarity with the published literary chronicles of the times in question.

        It is, therefore, a concession which is now cheerfully made, that the doubts which I once published as to Mr. Marshall's being truly a living centenarian, may not be justified. No one who intimately knew the venerable subject of this sketch would suspect him of wishing to deceive in any important matter. The only abatement which any one would feel, arises from the well known propensity of colored people in all parts of the Southern States to make themselves older than they really are, after they reach to some advanced period. The deference accorded to age; the freedom from labor which aged servants enjoy, and the consideration received from those of their own race--these are among the inducements which lead aged Africans to over-estimate their years, sometimes by a very considerable difference.

        It is possible that Mr. Marshall may have been deceived, not only in regards to his years, but also as to some other facts in his history. And yet it is proper to remark that his means of knowing were better than any others possessed. It must be allowed that his statements were not questioned by the oldest and most respectable citizens of his own city and region, and gentlemen now living can certify to more than fifty years' knowledge of him.

        If any other question besides his age should be raised as to his accuracy or competency of opinion concerning himself, it would be as to the amount of African blood. In his conformation and general appearance, he would probably pass for a true mulatto. But some scientific gentlemen, accustomed to the refined test which the hair and other criteria of physiology seem to have settled in ethnological researches, have formed a decided opinion that Mr. Marshall was more of an African than would follow from a white father and a black mother.

        His own account, so often repeated, and so widely known and believed, in lower Georgia, will now be mainly followed. He always referred his birth to the year 1755, being the time of General Braddock's defeat by the French and Indians. This, he said, had, from his early recollections, determined the year of his nativity. As informed by his mother, who was an unmixed negress, his father was an Englishman acting as an overseer in South Carolina, where Andrew was born. The father left for England where he died not long after the birth of the child. It was asserted by Andrew that he had been entitled to his freedom from his birth, as his father had arranged with a mulatto person by the name of Pendarvis, before going to England, that the negro mother and two children which she had borne him were to be provided for, and the children educated, and that upon his return the father would secure their freedom. His premature death becoming known, the mulatto overseer managed to enforce a claim against the estate of the father, and the mother and children were seized and sold as slaves. Andrew was sold to John Houston, Colonial Governor of Georgia, who died when Andrew was about 21 years of age.

        Andrew Marshall was twice married; the first time at 16 years of age. By his two marriages he had twenty children, only one of whom now survives. He was separated from his first wife after the death of Governor Houston, by whom he had been bequeathed his freedom on account of having one time saved his master's life. The executors, however, failed to carry out the will, and Andrew was again sold, being then parted from his first wife. He evaded the decision by running away, and was sold while at large, becoming the property of Judge Clay, as already mentioned.

        While in the service of Judge Clay, he accompanied his master, who several times visited the Northern States in the capacity of a member of Congress, and perhaps on some other occasions also. In these visits, Andrew's position as coachman enabled him frequently to see General Washington, of whom he was fond of relating several striking incidents. At a later period General Washington visited Savannah, and Andrew was honored with the appointment of body servant to the President. He was constantly near the General's person during his brief stay in the city, acting as his driver, and waiting upon him at a public dinner. Andrew said that Washington was uniformly grave and serious, and that he was never seen to smile during his whole visit, though he was always calm and pleasant.

        The congruity of Mr. Marshall's recollections seems to be verified, especially in regards to his age, in connection with the opening period of the Revolutionary war. The embargo having taken effect at Savannah, fifteen merchants of that city agreed to give him a purse of two hundred and twenty-five dollars, on condition that he should carry word to a number of American vessels lying in a bay on the lower seaboard and destined for Savannah. In this achievement he was successful. The vessels were enabled to escape to Spanish protection, before the courier, previously sent, had informed the fleet of their danger.

        Mr. Marshall was an eye-witness of many of the stirring events which occurred in Savannah and its vicinity during the Revolutionary war. He was a trustworthy servant, especially when honored with any unusual promotion and responsibility. Even in the last war with England, he was employed, for a period of six weeks, by officers of the government or the army, on some important business, and for this he refused any compensation, as he always claimed to be a true American, and cheerfully shared in the toils and sufferings of the white population, though never with any unseemly pretensions on his part.

        He had distinct personal recollections of General Nathaniel Greene. His account of that hero's early death agrees with the traditions which have been carefully attested by gentlemen familiar with historical researches. General Greene, immediately after the war, was rewarded with valuable grants of land near Savannah, to which he repaired with his family in 1783. Owing either to some disputed title, or to rancor and envy at the hero's valuable possessions, he was not allowed to enjoy them long. He was exposed to so much personal danger that he was obliged to ride armed with pistols, in going to and from his plantation near the city, and he could travel only in full daytime. Thus exposed in the midst of the summer's heat, he was suddenly smitten with inflammation of the brain, and died on the 19th of June, 1786. Andrew C. Marshall could recall all these events with the distinctness of an eye-witness. His account of the hero's funeral, in Savannah, is the only apparently faithful picture which can now be furnished, whether from written chronicles or from personal traditions. He described the surprise, grief and indignation of the people of the city at the early and untoward death of General Greene, and their willing minds but ineffectual desires to stand up for his honor and defense. The town and region around were summoned to the funeral, and tubs of punch and barrels of biscuits were placed along the road near the cemetery to refresh the wearied multitude. Andrew declared that he could pace off the distance from the gate of the old cemetery on South Broad street to within half a dozen steps of the spot where the General was buried. But his aid in verifying this locality had been too long deferred, when an investigation was attempted a few years ago, especially as it was then established by sufficient evidence that the remains of General Greene had previously been exhumed and removed to a spot which cannot now be identified.

        Mr. Marshall's force of character seemed to have been chiefly expended on worldly interests, until he was about 50 years of age. He evinced, even to the last a lively sympathy in the welfare of the country, and was especially careful to maintain the cause of law and order in the social relations by which he was surrounded in his own city and vicinity. Not far from the time of his conversion, he also acquired his emancipation. He was at that time owned as a slave by Mr. Bolton, whose family name is honorably known among the merchant princes of Savannah. The father of Mr. Bolton had been the special friend of the Countess of Huntingdon while she was patronizing Mr. Whitefield's mission in Savannah, and the orphan house at Beulieu. The Bolton name is associated by marriage with the family of the late Rev. William Jay, of Bath, in England. The business partner of Mr. Bolton was the late venerable Mr. Richard Richardson, who purchased Andrew, and, with the view of effecting his emancipation, advanced him two hundred dollars, in order to purchase himself. With his previous earnings, and with diligence and economy, under the encouragements of his master, he saved enough to pay for himself and his whole family, then consisting of his wife and four children, his wife's father and his own step-father. Shortly after his conversion he began to preach, and in 1806 he became pastor of the Second Baptist Church* in Savannah, which was a colored church, in distinction from the First or the White Baptist Church, then recently formed by the distinguished Henry Holcombe, D. D., who afterwards died as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. About a thousand colored members then belonged to Mr. Marshall's church, and subsequently the number increased to some three thousand, when it was thought best to divide them. Accordingly the colored church was formed, which some time afterward purchased the old house of worship which the White Baptist Church vacated when they built their new brick meeting-house, under the pastorship of the late Rev. Henry O. Wyer, and which now formed a part of the large house of worship known as the First Baptist Church in Savannah. The church which Mr. Marshall thus formed took the name of the First African Baptist Church, and he remained its pastor till the day of his death.*

        During the long period of his ministry Mr. Marshall was careful to preserve tolerably good memorials of his ministerial acts. His mere recollections seemed nearly as accurate as if they had been written and publicly certified. He had baptized about thirty-eight hundred persons, and he supposed that over four thousand had professed to be converted under his ministry. His personal influence extended over the plantations through several counties around Savannah, and the planters were generally satisfied with the beneficial effects of his labors. He was often sent for to preach and to perform funeral services at great distances, and such visits were often urged by the planters and the white people at large, as well as by the blacks. Whenever he visited any of the larger cities his appearance in public ministrations was greeted by great multitudes. He occasionally preached in Augusta, Macon and Milledgeville, as well as in Charleston, and even as far off as in New Orleans. On some occasions his audiences were composed, in large part, of the most respectable white people, and the Legislature of Georgia at one time gave him a hearing in an entire body. The winter before he died he visited Augusta, and conducted a protracted meeting, which resulted in the addition of over three hundred and fifty persons to the colored church in that city. With all these immense results to his ministry, Mr. Marshall preserved a strict and salutary discipline, at least, such was the constant effort and rule of his proceedings. He was jealous of mere animal excitements, and generally unfriendly even to protracted meetings in his own church, or in others where he officiated. He relied upon the appointed and ordinary means of grace; and in his own church, there were seldom any efforts used beyond special prayer and the faithful ministrations of the word. He, however, was so deeply interested in the temperance cause, that he encourged, among his people, those methods of organizations for this object which are somewhat kindred to the plan of the Odd Fellows. There were also societies among his flock for mutual benefit; and in these ways the poor and the infirm, especially among the free people of color, who had no legal masters to care for them in their old age were greatly benefited. Mr. Marshall was so strong in his opposition to drunkenness that no colored person would, by this indulgence, willingly incur his censure. There is no doubt that, in this respect, he accomplished much for the cause among the blacks, and thus for the public welfare generally.

        The superiority of Mr. Marshall's character and talents especially appears in the methodical manner in which he conducted his own business, as well as in the discipline of his church. Long after he became a preacher, he had but a small and precarious support from any pecuniary rewards for his ministry. He supported himself and his family as a drayman; but his great capacity soon asserted itself, even in respect to his material means of prosperity. He conducted the portage and draying business on a considerable scale, at one period having owned a number of drays and teams, and even the slaves who drove them. He owned the large brick dwelling house in which he had lived for many years previous to his death; and was at one time rated in property as high as twenty-five thousand dollars, though this was probably too high an estimate. His property was diminished very considerably in his latter years. With his increasing infirmities he began to fear that he might yet be scarcely saved from the necessity of out-door duties and that he might have to give up the easy carriage and horse which he had so long enjoyed. He related that, on one occasion, he had advanced twenty-five hundred dollars to purchase a family of twelve persons, to prevent their separation, and that he never received back the money, except a mere trifle, which he had thus paid. His church, however, were abundantly able and willing to provide for him; and though they did not pay him a fixed salary, they made regular contributions, which amounted to a handsome sum annually, and which in any extremity could doubtless have been increased by several hundred dollars. Prominent native citizens were always among his tried friends; and some of the most respectable gentlemen in Savannah, of different denominations, acted as trustees for his church, to protect their real estate and other property.

        Mr. Marshall possessed elements which would of necessity have made him a leading character anywhere. His Anglo-Saxon temperament made him superior to his African race. His strength of character showed itself in his indomitable perseverance, his calm self-possession, his practical sagacity, and a discretion which never failed him. Withal he had a genial and even humorous temper; and his countenance bore the finest lines of expression. He was entirely free from superstition, and gave no countenance to marvellous relations of experience, even in a work of grace. He could penetrate beneath disguises, and few men, white or black, of any age, could surpass him in reading human character. The deference which he always showed for the laws and institutions of the country was combined with a high measure of self-respect, and frequently with a decision and inflexibility which might be taken advantage of by unprincipled white persons. There was a period of about two years--from 1819 to 1821--when Mr. Marshall became somewhat unpopular with the white people of his own denomination, on account of his extreme views of theology, which at first bordered on Antinomianism, and at length receded to the opposite extreme of Sacramentalism in Baptism, as held by Alexander Campbell. During that time, and while engaged in his secular avocations, he had violated the laws by contraband dealings with negroes. He had made purchases from slaves having no tickets with leave to trade and sell; and, though many white people had laid the foundation of large success in business before, as others have since, by contraband with blacks, advantage was taken of Mr. Marshall's inadvertency, and happening together with his temporary unpopularity, he was prosecuted and sentenced to be publicly whipped in the marketplace. The kindness of his former master, Mr. Richardson, and the feelings of many of the best citizens, would not allow him to suffer; and personal witnesses of the scene, yet living, can attest that the whipping was only a semblance--the constable, receiving instructions not to scratch his skin or to draw blood--his old master also being at his side to see that these precautions were faithfuliy and humanely observed. While Mr. Marshall was unvarying in his deference to white people, and was never distrusted for any disloyalty to the public peace; and while he was decided in asserting the necessity and advantages of the present institutions in the South, he yet never hesitated to make a firm and respectful declaration of the rights of conscience in matters of religion. He sometimes alluded to his celebrated uncle, the Rev. Andrew Bryan, who was a colored preacher of nearly as great reputation as ever Andrew C. Marshall possessed, and who died at an extremely great age, as pastor of the colored church in Savannah. In one of the turbulent outbreaks of religious bigotry among the baser sort of people, which happened before the demoralizing effects of the Revolutionary war had been followed by better morals and manners, this old preacher, Andrew Bryan, was silenced from preaching, and, upon his assuming again to preach, he was publicly whipped. But, after this flagellation, he declared that he could not stop preaching, even if at the cost of a martyr's sufferings. This old man seemed ever to have been the model of a true preacher, with Andrew Marshall; and when he died, his nephew and successor caused a beautiful mural tablet to be raised in his church, and an other large tablet of marble over his grave, in which were recited the events of his life, not omitting the whipping and persecution he had endured for righteousness' sake. The monument will probably long remain in the colored cemetery at Savannah.

        The bent and tone of Mr. Marshall's mind was of the old Calvinistic order. His clear intellect was equal to the best distinctions in theology; and though he was rather too fond of sometimes saying in public that he never had a day's learning in his life, yet he had much of the discipline which every superior mind acquires and asserts for itself, by the very necessity and outgrowth of self-education; for every mind that is truly educated, when we look at the last analysis, educates itself.

        He owned a considerable number of books; and among those evidently the most used were Dr. Gill's Commentaries. In his treatment of a subject in some of his pulpit performances there was observable the grasp of a mind which would be deservedly called great. Very often indeed, he intermingled incidents of his personal experience, and then would seem to run into a style; but even these discursive qualities served to keep alive the attention of his simple flock. But a man who could make some of the high mental efforts which Andrew Marshall at times displayed, would be pronounced as fully equal to any subject which he would find occasion to meet, if allowed opportunity for preparation.

        The tones of his voice seemed rather to make his preaching of the conversational order, while yet there was really a unity of plan and a purpose, and a progress, in the whole deliverance. In his large house of worship, the soft tones of his voice would reach the farthest corner, and penetrate every ear. He never used notes in preaching; but his self-possession never failed him. His voice was so deep, sonorous and tender, that its capacity for the expression of pathos was unsurpassed. In his Scripture readings and in reciting hymns his power was always felt. His favorite hymns and selections of Scripture were sometimes pronounced with such effect that the most highly educated and discriminating person would never forget the impressions of such readings.

        His appearance was commanding, though he was neither stout nor tall, compared with the average of well-formed men. His African skin and hair compensated by a face of intelligence superior to the limitations of his race. His hair was of the clearest white, and, though truly African, it rose in unwonted profusion, giving him the presence of a venerable patriarch. His teeth were sound and beautifully clear; his sight and hearing as good to the last as in middle life, and his lower limbs only began seriously to fail him on reaching his one hundredth year. In some of his glowing pulpit efforts his face and whole person were irradiated with intelligence, and one could not hear him at such times without feeling himself within the influence of a superior mind.

        In the last year of Mr. Marshall's life, it became an object of extreme desire with him to erect a new and better house of worship for the church which he felt he soon must leave. The old house (being built of wood) had become much dilapidated, and the city ordinance would not allow another wooden building to be erected on that spot, which was really an eligible one. Feeling the importance of his cause, after making some progress in Savannah and its vicinity, Mr. Marshall resolved upon another journey to the North, which he had frequently visited in the days and in the presence of Washington. He was accompanied by his wife, and he hoped also to receive some benefit by consulting physicians there for his infirmities, which neither nature nor medicine could much longer resist. He was respectfully received by some of the most prominent of the New York clergy of various denominations. He preached with acceptance in several of the Baptist pulpits,--among them Dr. Cone's and Dr. Magoon's,--and in those of other denominations, one of which was that of Dr. Krebs; and very soon he received in that city about six hundred dollars for his object.

        But his race was run. He was soon admonished to return home at once, if he wished to see his own people again and to die among them. Extremely weak, and every day becoming more unwell, he reached Richmond in his journey by land, and thence he could proceed no farther. Having a letter to the Rev. B. Manly, Jr., President of the Richmond Female College, he desired his direction to some place where he could stay. Mr. Manly promptly and cheerfully provided for him at his own house, where the old man lingered for more than a month, evincing the same gracious affections and the same superior traits of character which had crowned and graced his life for so many years. Here, on the 8th of December, 1856, he breathed his last. His remains were carefully conveyed to Savannah, where his funeral took place on Sabbath, the 14th of the same month. The demonstrations of interest on this last solemn occasion of his earthly history were unequaled by anything of the kind in that city or region where a colored person was concerned. An immense procession of about a mile long, with fifty-eight carriages--either loaned by families in the city to their servants or other colored friends, or occupied (as in many instances) by respectable white people themselves,--followed him from his church to his grave. His funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. Thomas Ronbeau, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Savannah. Not more than two or three funerals, whether civil or military, and those of the most distinguished citizens of the place, have witnessed so large a collection of people in the course of the present century in that city as followed to the last resting place the remains of the centenarian, Andrew Marshall.

 Yours respectfully,

J. P. TUSTIN.

 

 *This cannot be true. The Second African Baptist Church was organized December 26th, 1802--the First African Church January 20th, 1788. The first was never known as the Second African Baptist Church in distinction to the White Baptist Church.

 *Mr. Marshall did not form the First African Baptist Church. The First African Baptist Church was formed by Rev. Abraham Marshall (white) and Rev. Jesse Peter (colored) January 20, 1788. The First African Baptist Church is twelve years older than the Savannah Baptist Church (white). They were never together and hence the colored church could not have come out from the white church. The First African Baptist Church worshipped in Yamacraw before the white Baptist Church was in existence.

 
 
The Reformed Reader Home Page 


Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved