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- Letter to Hon. Thomas L. Tullock: July 23, 1867
Macon. Ga., July 23, 1867
Hon. Thomas L. Tullock:
I have just returned from the Southwest portion of the state. Have travelled through that hell-charged section, under the garb of a presiding elder, preached at each place, lectured politically and formed Union Leagues, Republican clubs etc. At Fort Valley, Rev. Isaac Anderson is doing good work. At Americus they have a strong league and the colored people and poor whites are pretty well republicanized. The mayor of the city is right, but he has not spunk to let the people know it. That is the trouble with a great number of whites, they are afraid of being called radical. At Albany, I formed a grand League. Was two whole nights drilling them in their duties. The whites are rebs to the pith, but the colored are brave and defiant.
After leaving Albany, I went to Cuthbert where the rebels are very bitter and was advised by the bureau agent not to lecture. But after preaching, I lectured awhile on registration and formed a Union League which I think will save Randolph county. James A. Jackson of Cuthbert is a fearless fellow and stands up for his race like a hero.
At Fort Gaines bordering on Alabama and Florida, I lectured and formed another magnificent league. I cannot pass by a reference to Rev. Robert Alexander who is stationed at the above point. Here and throughout Clay County, there is an immense number of colored people and no one to lead them. So at our conference meeting, I had brother Alexander sent to that circuit. He has revolutionized the whole county. The rebels fear and hate him. He knows nothing but radical gospel, prays it in every prayer, preaches it in every sermon, talks it in every conversation and dreams it every night. I hope you will aid him.
At Dawson, the people were very ignorant about their rights and very indifferent concerning their duties. But I think they are awake now. I was somewhat afraid to organize a league here, as confidential men seemed rather scarce. But I have recently sent a preacher named Rev. Wm. Ravens, who is a whole-souled fellow and a radical to the back bone.
The prospect is good, but not so bright as I would like it. The whites boast of a majority in the state and swear they will bribe as many negroes against registration as there are whites disfranchised and they are, without doubt, making a desperate effort. The letters of [Benjamin H.] Hill and [Hershel V.] Johnson have terribly emboldened the wretches of late and they are as impudent as the devil himself.
Lewis Smith is doing well and pushing forward bravely. I sent another colored man through the country yesterday to read the dialogues to everybody. I told him to go and preach the radical gospel to every creature and tell them, he that accepts shall be saved but he that refuses shall be damned.
Every preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in this state is working well in the Republican cause expect two and they say if I will remain at Macon and issue any order, they will carry out every request. There is some grumbling with a few of our fastidious church members owing to the fact, as they say, that elder Turner don't preach as well as formerly because he is so absorbed in politics. A small delegation waited on me last night and told me it was admitted by whites and colored that I was one of the ablest ministers in the state, but of late, my sermons were dry and cold and they thought I had better desist a while from political declamations. I simply replied by asking them if I had called on the church for a cent of money in three months? They answered negatively. Then I said, well, brethren, when you are not paying a man for his services you ought to be satisfied with what he gives you. They very politely changed the subject.
This report is quite incomplete but I am not feeling very well. I expect to send you a few more items for publication in a few days on the indispensable necessity of registering which I desire to have accompany the dialogues.
I am very truly,
Rev. Henry M. Turner