“You know the feelings of the white people here in Delaware.
Are you ready to die?”
I said, None of these things move me.
I never was so inspired to speak since the day I was born.
And news went back to Caroline,
that I was shot and killed.
The Legacy of A.M.E Bishop A.W. Wayman
of Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland
One year after the Civil War ended, before he was elected Bishop of the A.M.E. Church, Rev. Alexander Wayman visited a camp meeting of the white Methodist Church in Camden, Delaware. When was invited to speak, local rebels vowed to “take him out.”
Bishop Wayman recollects:
In the summer of 1866, I visited the State of Delaware. There was a camp-meeting in progress near Camden, Delaware, held by the ministers of the M. E. Church; and as it was near the town, I thought I would go out to see what was going on and hear some of the able divines preach. The presiding elder, Rev. Henry Colclazer, asked me to give them a sermon. I said to him, “You know the feelings of the Delaware white people toward men of my color.” He said that whatever he said was the law there.
The managers held a meeting, and concluded to invite me to preach. It was accordingly announced that on such an afternoon Bishop Wayman, of the African M. E. Church, would preach. The outlaws threatened if I went into the stand the next day they would take me out. When the managers heard of it they called a meeting and resolved to sustain their action, saying they were not to be frightened by a few hot-headed rebels.
Next morning I walked out to the camp-ground to hear Rev. Charles Hill preach. Rev. James Flanery met me, and asked, “Are you ready to die?”
I said, “I hope so.”
“Then,” he said, “We have received word that the rebel element around here have said that if you go in the stand today, they will take you out. The managers have held a meeting, and they have concluded to sustain their action. I want you to show yourself a man today.”
I said, “None of these things move me.”
There was a regiment of soldiers encamped nearby, and those fellows went and asked the soldiers to join them. But the soldiers said, “No, gentlemen, we did not come here to raise riots, but put them down; therefore, we cannot assist you.”
When the time came, I was on hand. A soldier touched me on the shoulder and said to me as I was going toward the stand, “Don’t be alarmed, the boys in blue are here.”
Then the constable said to me, putting his hand in his pocket, “I have a little dog that speaks seven time. If there is any attempt made today to interrupt you, it will speak.”
I went in the stand and gave out, “Blow ye the trumpet, blow.” After prayer I read for my text, Rev. 7:17: “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and lead them unto living fountains of water, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” And I never was so inspired to speak since I have been born. While I was speaking, there was a little noise created by some boys running across the boards. Every person started up. I said, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
I finished my discourse without any further interruption. The congregation was dismissed and we retired. It was our intention to have meeting at our church that night, but a white lady sent word to us not to have any meeting. She heard those fellows say what they were going to do.
So the brethren concluded it was best to have no meeting, but to get ready for them. So “Captain” Caldwell got his boys together out in the high corn around the church, and waited for them until ten o’clock, and they did not come. He dismissed them with the understanding if there was any need, the man on picket would give the alarm.
The moon was shining very brightly. Captain Caldwell and his family and I were sitting on the porch at the door, and the road passed along in front of that door. I saw six or seven white men pass along. One of them asked Captain Caldwell, “Where is your preacher?”
The captain said, “What do you want with him?”
He said, “We want to know what his reasons were for preaching on our camp-ground.” Captain Caldwell’s wife said, “He is gone up the road; did you see him?”
Captain Caldwell called to the picket, saying, “George.” The fellow said, “If you speak I will shoot you.” By that time George, the picket, had given the alarm, and Captain Caldwell’s men came in the rear and were making ready for a charge. The fellows out in the street began to think there was danger, and they beat a hasty retreat. It was well they did, for if they had remained ten minutes longer, Captain Caldwell’s men would have fired upon them, and some person might have been killed.
The news went out to the camp-meeting that there was a riot in that part of the town, and soon the managers came in with a few soldiers, but all of the would-be assassins were gone. But Captain Caldwell’s men slept upon their arms all night.
Captain Caldwell is Prince Caldwell of Camden, Delaware, a prominent member of the A. M. E. Church, and a man of some means. And he has had to fight many a battle for his people in other days.
The news of the riot went down to Caroline county, Maryland, where my father and mother lived, that I was shot and killed at this camp-meeting.