Letter from Savannah
Christian Recorder: March 12, 1874
Mr. Editor – We have just been honored with a visit from Rev. Major J. Wilkerson, who spent last Sabbath with us. I had long heard of this great reformer; but had never seen him before, and rare was the treat. Sabbath morning he preached for us. Refusing the pulpit, he stood at the altar, and after very ably treating his text, he reviewed the life and services of Bishop Quinn, and with all the admiration I cherished for the sainted dead, he made me believe which is true, that the half had never been told. It would seem as though Brother Wilkerson had been reading the Arabian Nights, and were trying to imitate them; were it not for the train of incontestable evidences which he presented, as still monumenting the toils of that great hero of our church. Brother Wilkerson was represented to me as a man of odd eccentricities, and special idiosyncrasies, which made him a peculiar genius; but so far as my observations extended, I found him to be as natural as other men. And more than all, a dear friend to the A.M.E. Church. His Quakerism makes him rather a statuesque in both manner and form, but in disposition he is as pliant and as flexible as a child. He does not endorse the symbological form of interpreting the Scriptures, so peculiar to the present age; he is more of a literalist and therefore preaches hell-fire in the old fashion style. Religion with him is a living reality, and not a fickle scintillation which glimmers in a doubtful sentimentality. If you don’t feel it, and enjoy it, if it don’t make you a better man, and a better woman, it is not religion; and you had better go to God with fasting and prayer at once or you will be damned. He is taking his last tour through the United States, descanting upon the labors of Bishop Quinn, and trying (as he terms it) to furneralize the devil. He left here this morning for Charleston, S.C., from thence to Wilmington, N.C., where he will remain four weeks to regain his strength; from whence he will start again with renewed vigor, to battle for his master.
The visit of Dr. Stevenson to this place a few weeks since, was almost an ovation; he too, by his medical skill has endeared himself to the Southern people, and stands high as a physician, as well as in the capacity of a pulpit master.
African Methodism at last is about to receive impulse in this lethargic city. Since Conference we have been donated with a splendid edifice, all seated and in good order. An almost defunct mission has been powerfully revived. A new church lot has been purchased in another section of the city, and it is hoped a new house will soon be in course of erection. And still another mission has been opened in a military hall, which we trust will soon ripen into a church and congregation, and thus the work goes on.
Quite an exodus is likely to break out here in favor of Florida in another year. Several of the western emigrants are returning back to Georgia, bringing back tidings with them, whether this is caused by their unthriftness, or by falling into the hands of sharpers, I am not able to say, possibly both. But this I do know, the colored people here, are beginning to incline toward the semi-tropical fruit growing region.
Civil Rights still hangs fire in Congress, and I find the colored people in some instances are threatening to leave the Republican Party, if they do not pass it. But where will we go! Such threats are useless, let us fight the question out at home.
Thank God we are now strong enough to do it, and let us marshall our forces and give battle to the foe, till we are able to wear the banner of victory.
Feb. 26, 1874