Because he did!

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

It has been a blessing over the past few years to share information, history, stories, and family lineage with so many. We always seem to find some amazing things, moments, or people in our past that answer the reason why We Are. Today, we will share one story of how changing one's perspective can have a ripple effect on so many. I introduce you to, Rev. John Leighton Wilson, D.D.

His home stood on this site. With his wife, Jane Bayard Wilson, he served as a Presbyterian missionary on the western coast of Africa 1833-1852. He advocated ending the slave trade and by 1844 had freed all his own slaves. Foreign Mission Secretary in the Presbyterian Church for 33 years, he served as a chaplain, C.S.A. Reverend Wilson felt repugnant in keeping slaves as a missionary and man of Christ. He wrote letters to his betrothed, Jane Bayard, in 1833, and additional missionaries advising of his plans to manumission or free all but two slaves.

The slaves that were freed, traveled to Liberia at an exorbitant cost to Rev. Wilson. John and Jessie eventually where given their papers as free-person and headed north to Boston with Mr. Samuel Wilson after conference on who owned the two boys and also one girl. We do not know what happened to the young girl, but we have news on John and Jessie Wilson.

John was taught the carpenter's trade, and, it is said, received pay for his services. As his head grew gray he was known as Uncle John, who boasted that he had "gone through the Seminary" with his young master, and would talk as grandly as if he had taken the full course with Mars Leighton" (Dubose, 2021).

Hamden C. Dubose, 2021 also states how "he always lived on the plantation, and was a faithful, kind, and trustworthy servant. When the Federal armies passed through the country during the war he helped to hide the valuables and to take care of the horses concealed in the swamps, and several times when Dr. Wilson was compelled to leave home he placed John in charge of his family and property."

He did the unthinkable before it became law of the land.

A significant historical year for this entry is 1844, the year he finished the manumission of al slaves owned by Jane Bayard Wilson. Excerpts of his letters to her and several other missionaries can be found in his Memoir.

#Abolition #UndergroundRailroad #HistoricalMarker

Dubose, H. C. (2021). Memoirs of Rev. John Leighton Wilson, D.D.: Missionary to Africa, and Secretary of Foreign Missions. Legare Street Press.

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