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5 The Black Templars In contrast to the abundance of information on how white Templars viewed black Templar membership, there is only skimpy evidence about the black Templars themselves and even less about how other blacks regarded the IOGT. Historians ofAfrican American organizationallife almost never mention the Good Templars, and biographers of blacks who held high Templar office seldom explore this phase of their lives. The general neglect ofAfrican American fraternal societies and the black temperance movement helps explain this oversight. Moreover, much of the source material for the black Templars lies buried in British temperance newspapers, not the place where research on Mrican American history is commonly conducted. In recruiting black members the Templar factions were helped by prevailing African American ideologies and social organization. In the nineteenth century blacks often made the analogy between drink and slavery, temperance and freedom.1 A tradition of temperance reform among the black community in the northern states dated from pre-Civil War times. Maine's Abyssinian Total Abstinence Society claimed 176 members in the early 1840s. The temperance movement spread to the former slave states after the abolition of slavery. In 1867, for instance, Missouri's Colored Temperance Society held a fund-raising Independence Day picnic near Columbia. Although there were exceptions, the black men and women who joined the IOGT did so for the most part as teetotalers or moderate drinkers, not as alcoholics seeking to save themselves from a drinking problem. A Templar in Tallahassee declared himself "a Temperance young man before I joined the Order" but added "I am stronger since I joined it."2 In the absence of well-developed Mrican American temperance societies, the churches dominated the black temperance movement. Methodist conferences often called for restraint in drinking alcohol . A black Templar, not himself a Methodist, credited "chiefly ... 105 106 Temperance and Racism ministers of the A.M.E. Church" for the growth of the IOGT among African Americans. He added praise for a presiding elder of the A.M.E. Zion Church, the other major black Methodist denomination.3 A.M.E. clergy and laity joined the RWGL of the World in disproportionate numbers. Admittedly, some of these Templar memberships were nominal like that of the celebrated Bishop Daniel A. Payne, but other Methodists joined the IOGT to work.4 A future A.M.E. bishop was the first GWCT for the Malinites in Virginia. The Grand Lodge ofSouth Carolina gained momentum when all the ministers at an A.M.E. conference joined a special lodge; at least three chiefs of this Grand Lodge wereA.M.E. ministers. TheA.M.E. weekly newspaper, the Christian Recorder, became the Malinite organ in the United States. It published a section of Templar news under the RWGL of the World seal, which displayed a black man and a white man shaking hands. Malins himself, in the United States for a meeting of the RWGL of the World in 1878, organized Fraternity lodge at the Philadelphia headquarters of the Christian Recorder, with its staff as the membership.5 At a Templar meeting in Ireland the newspaper's editor, Dr. B.T. Tanner, rejoiced that "Good Templary brought all upon one platform." Initiated at Bedford lodge in London during an 1882 international Methodist conference in England were James M. Townsend of Richmond, Indiana, corresponding secretary for theA.M.E. missions; Joseph P. Shorter, who taught mathematics at Wilberforce University in Ohio, and the Josephus O'Banyoun (or Banyon), a Canadian minister and ex-Templar.6 The second largest Methodist denomination among African Americans, the A.M.E. Zion Church, also provided Templar activists. A Zion bishop headed the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. California 's Zion bishop served as a proxy representative at an RWGL of the World session in Britain while he was there on a fund raising mission.7 Eliza A. Gardner, a Boston dressmaker, earned a reputation as an outstanding "speaker and reasoner" in the racially integrated Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. A white friend added that Gardner, "but for the handicap of her color, might have held first rank among the noted women of the world."8 This is not to say that the black Templars lacked non-Methodist leaders. The same observer who lauded the Methodists for their contribution to the IOGT offered praise as well to Albert Lewis, a Baptist minister in Key West.9 In 1879 a Baptist minister was elected GWCT of Virginia, and Baptist ministers headed several Dual Grand Lodges for the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813161518
Related ISBN
9780813119847
MARC Record
OCLC
903964986
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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