© 1993

Black Itinerants of the Gospel

The Narratives of John Jea and George White

  • Editors
  • Graham Russell Hodges

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Graham Russell Hodges
    Pages 1-50
  3. Graham Russell Hodges
    Pages 51-88
  4. Graham Russell Hodges
    Pages 89-164
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 165-200

About this book


John Jea (b. 1773) and George White (1764-c.1830) were two of the earliest African-American autobiographers, writing nearly a half-century before Frederick Douglass published his famous narrative chronicling his experiences as a slave, a freedman, and an ardent abolitionist. Jea and White represent an earlier generation of African-Americans that were born into slavery but granted their freedom shortly after American independence, in the 1780s. Both men chose to fight against slavery from the pulpit, as itinerant Methodist ministers in the North. Methodism's staunch anti-slavery stance, acceptance of African-American congregants, and widespread use of itinerant preachers enhanced black religious practices and services in the late eighteenth century and the nineteenth century. Graham Hodges' substantial introduction to the book places these two narratives into historical context, and highlights several key themes, including slavery in the North, the struggle for black freedom after the Revolution, and the rise of African-American Christianity.

About the authors

GRAHAM RUSSELL HODGES is Professor of History at Colgate University. He is the author of several books, including Root and Branch: African-Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863 (1999) and Slavery, Freedom, and Culture Among Early American Workers (1998). Forthcoming books include Taxi! A Cultural History of the New York City Cabdriver, David Ruggles: Black Apostle of Freedom, and, from Palgrave, Anna May Wong: A Life.

Bibliographic information


"In this marvelous work of recovery and restoration, Graham Russell Hodges introduces readers to two African preachers whose autobiographies shed light upon the fascinating period in post-Revolutionary America when African American culture congealed in the fires of religious enthusiasm and political radicalism." - Professor Milton C. Sernett, Syracuse University

"In Black Itinerants of the Gospel, Graham Russell Hodges has made available the long-out-of-print personal histories, theological arguments and writings, and even many of the favorite hymns of George White and John Jea, extraordinary nineteenth-century black preachers. Their lives provide a window on race, religion, and politics of their time in America and abroad. This is a rare and important tool for both the professional historian and the historically curious." - James Oliver Horton, co-author of In Hope of Liberty and Hard Road to Freedom