Henry McNeal Turner (February 1, 1834–May 8, 1915) was a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. During the American Civil War he was appointed a Chaplain to one of the first Federal regiments of black troops (Company B of the First United States Colored Troops). Turner was the first of only 14 black Chaplains to be appointed during the Civil War and the first colored man that was ever made a commissioned officer in the United States Army. . This appointment came directly from President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
Following the Civil War he became steadily more disenchanted with the lack of progress in the status of the country's African-Americans. During this time he moved to the state of Georgia. It was here that he became involved in Radical Republican politics. He helped found the Republican Party of Georgia.
Bishop H. M. Turner, D. D., LL. D., D. C. L., was born near Newbury Court House, South Carolina, February 1, 1833 or 1834. His mother's maiden name was Sarah Greer, the youngest daughter of David Greer, who was brought to this country when a boy and sold in Charleston, S. C. Greer was the son of an African king. His father, the African king, sent seven African slaves for the return of his son, but the captain of the slave ship dying before he returned, the son received his freedom when South Carolina was still under British rule, upon the ground that Royal blood could not be enslaved. Henry McNeal Turner was the oldest son of Hardy Turner and Sarah Greer Turner.
Henry grew up on the cotton fields of South Carolina, and when eight or nine years old he dreamed he was on a high mountain and millions of people were looking up at him for instruction, white and colored. He then procured a spelling book and commenced to learn to read and write, to prepare to give that vast multitude instruction. He got a white boy to teach him his alphabet and how to spell to three syllables. By this time he was large enough to wait in a law office at Abbeville Court House, S. C. The young lawyers took great pleasure in giving him instruction in their leisure moments for pastime. He gained a respectable knowledge of history, arithmetic, geography, astronomy and some other branches, but would not study grammar, as he thought he could talk well enough without a knowledge of grammar.
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TEXT and IMAGE CREDIT: Twentieth Century Negro Literature: Or, A Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to the American Negro BY ONE HUNDRED OF AMERICA'S GREATEST NEGROES EDITED AND ARRANGED BY D. W. CULP, A. M., M. D. AN AUTHOR AND LECTURER, ETC. Editor: Daniel Wallace Culp. Publisher: J. L. Nichols & Company, 1902. Original from: the University of Michigan. Digitized: Sep 17, 2008. Length: 472 pages. Subjects: African American authors, African Americans.