John Chavis

African American Patriot, Preacher, Teacher, and Mentor (1763–1838)


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About the Book

John Chavis had a profound impact upon the history of North Carolina, the life of African Americans, and the course of religion in America. Born in 1763, Chavis fought in the American Revolution and studied at Princeton, becoming the first black person ordained as a missionary minister in the Presbyterian church. Many of those who learned from his teachings were white, and many of the students in his Latin grammar school were the sons of prominent North Carolinians. His lifelong relationship with his students created connections with some of the most powerful individuals of the nineteenth century, and his religious writings can still stir the soul more than 150 years after his death. Chavis’s story illustrates the power of faith, intelligence, and determination to overcome the precariousness of life for a free black man in this era. This account of Chavis’s life, the result of research by one of his descendants, presents a thorough examination of his life, his work, and the world in which he lived. Also included is the full text of John Chavis’s Letter Upon the Doctrine of the Extent of the Atonement of Christ (1837), long considered lost by many of his biographers.

About the Author(s)

The late Helen Chavis Othow was a professor of English at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina, a former department chair, and an outstanding faculty award winner. She wrote extensively in the areas of African American culture and literature.

Bibliographic Details

Helen Chavis Othow
Foreword by Minister Benjamin F. (Chavis) Muhammad
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 73 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2001
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0818-4
Imprint: McFarland

Book Reviews & Awards

“in-depth research…thorough…a book rich in relevant history…like holding a pot of gold in one’s hand…invaluable…profound documentation of the life of a remarkable man”—Black Issues.