Bishop Beebe—Freedmen’s Bank

Bishop Beebe,--Freedom's Banks—Objection to certain rights—Death, &.

Christian Recorder: May 14, 1874

Mr. Editor:-- Our city was visited on the 16th, inst. by Bishop Beebe of the Colored M. E. Church. He came to visit one of his congregations.

Apprised of his coming, I determined, to hear and see what manner of person he was. Accordingly at the time designed, I quietly but not unconcernedly repaired to the church (Andrew's Chapel) and beseated myself about midway in the house. In a few moments a medium size man, dark in color, noble in stature, finely poised, and seemingly conscious of his capacity, rose up and lined out a hymn, with no ordinary rest and fluency. This was a pleasing disappointment, for I was not looking for any accomplishment at all, while I did expect an old time sing-song manner for I had been led to suppose that intelligence among that class of our brethren was far below par. But we all sang, and he offered prayer. And almighty did he pray, too. Seldom have I listened to a man who seemed to be more under the afflatus of the Holy Spirit than was Bishop Beebe, besides his prayer was copious, lofty, and wide in its range, comprehending in its grand sweep every phase of human character as well as, human frailty and responsibility.

But he concludes, and another hymn is sung. He reads his text: "Lord, to whom shall we go! Thou hast the words of eteral life." John vi, 68.

The Bishop paved his way to his text, in an exordium that would have done credit to any Bishop in the country. He then made the divisions of it, and treated them accordingly. And well did he execute his work. Whether it was an old hobby or not, I cannot say; but if it were it does not lessen him in the estimation of intelligent men. While a man may be too indolent to prepare new discourse every time he preaches, or may be pressed for time to do so, yet, every well informed man knows, that a preacher who can preach one good original sermon, can preach another; for the human mind can never outwit itself. I watched the Bishop's language without mercy. And only noticed one sentence that would not pass as grammatical; and that I attributed more to a lapeus linque, than to a want of knowledge of what was correct.

But none of this stultified me, as much as to find the Bishop, weaving into his discourse theorems, abstractions and metaphysics. Till then I had sit as a critic, but after that, I thought it was time to change the programme and sit as a learner, which I did in good order. Permit me to say, that his sermon was eloquent, lofty, chaste and finely put up; so much so, that while I had thought there were no colored (episcopates) in this country who could rank with the Bishops of the A.M.E. Church, I was thoroughly convinced, that Bishops Beebe and Holsey—who by the way was converted under my preaching—of Colored M. E. Church, would rank well in our board of Bishops. To make a long story short, I went to hear Bishop Beebe for the purpose of criticizing animadverting and fault-finding generally. And got demoralized, discomforted and whipped but generally. The Bishop speaks in warm terms of the ministers of the A. M. E. Church. He says, they show him more kindness everywhere, than any other denomination; frequently preaching in their pulpits.

I must touch the pastor up a little, however, for rising up after the Bishop and giving a long exhortation. I would not rise up after one of our Bishops, and attempt to exhort for any consideration, unless he told me, without it was to call mourners, &c. A very learned divine once said, "It is presume, when a Bishop, or even a D. D., has gotten through with a text, there is nothing else to be said about it…..” This may or may not be true, but certainly ministerial courtesy would forbid a mere Deacon or Elder giving an exhortation after a Bishop; nor do I believe is a minister in the A.M. E. Church, who would do it; without being requested by the Bishop.

While I am scribbling, may I not call attention to a small flaw in the Freedman's Saving and Trust Company, without giving offence. I think my speeches and other labors in behalf of that institution, however, ought to shield me from any suspicion of opposition, for I am pretty sure, the institution is worth at least 50,000, dollars more than it would have been, but for my labors in its behalf. But to the point. What I wish to complain of, is the almost impossibility of the afflicted getting their money out of the bank, when they most need it. To illustrate what I mean, I have seen the children, and legal companions of persons come after their money, and could not get it, by an order, nor by the most unquestionable identification of them being the proper custodians of the party afflicted, unless the parties would either hazard their lives by coming to the bank, or the agent could find time or chose to go and see the individuals themselves. I was in one of the banks on a certain occasion, and the child of a speechless mother's came in to draw some of her mother’s money, to purchase necessaries for her; and was refused. What was finally done about it, I cannot say. A few weeks ago, one of my members became insane; his brother spent all his money on him, and had to stop work and nurse him night and day. Being a raving maniac, his brother tie him in the bed, lest he should kill the women and children while absent, and went to the Freedman's bank, to draw some of his crazy brother's money, to buy him some medicines; but he was refused. However, the agent said he would come and see him. When the agent arrived, he asked the raving maniac, should he let his brother have his money, to help take care of him &c, and the crazy man said, "no, don't give him a cent." And the agent politely told the sane brother, he could not let him have any, for if he did, he would be held individually responsible for the amount.

I should consider the affirmative of a crazy man, as worthless as his negative. It does not appear to me, that the Agent would be any more justifiable in paying the money had the crazy, man said yes, than in saying, no.

But I think some provision ought to be made by the authorities of that institution, to meet such contingencies, without making the Bank Agents personally responsible for the money. I do not mean now to throw say reflection on the company, or to insinuate upon the honesty and fair dealing of the same. I only think them too honest, so rigidly honest that sick and crazy people can't get the benefit of their own money, when the need it most.

Mr. Edward E. Howard, clerk of the court at Darien, and adopted son of Senator T. G. Campbell died a few weeks since. Also Rev. Thos. R. Brown possibly the oldest preacher in the world, preaching 73 years, and 94 years old. He was state missionary of the Georgia Annual Conference of the A. M. E. Church.

Savannah, GA

April 20, 1874