- A Brief Introduction to the Movement
- To Stay or To Go?: The National Emigration Convention of 1854
- The 1853 Manual Labor College Initiative
- Bishop Henry McNeal Turner
- Mobility, Migration, and the 1855 Philadelphia National Convention
- Henry Highland Garnet's "Address"
- What Did They Eat? Where Did They Stay?
- Black Wealth and the 1843 Convention
- Black Women's Economic Power
- The First National Convention
- The "Conventions" of the Conventions: Political Rituals
- A National Press? The 1847 National Convention and the North Star
- Equality Before the Law: California Black Convention Activism, 1855-65
- Conflict on the Ohio: The 1858 Convention in Cincinnati
- The Post-Bellum Conventions Movement and the Emigration Debate
- Conventions by City
- National Conventions
- Women Delegates
- Women in the Conventions
- Convention Hosts by Denomination
- Conventions by Level
- Clusters of Conventions
- Colored Conventions in Canada
- Women in the Conventions | March 8, 2017
- Douglass Day
- About Us
- Contact Us
Rev. John R. V. Morgan
Reverend John R. V. Morgan was born in Kent County, Maryland, in the 1820s and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.1 Throughout his life, he lived in multiple cities including Baltimore, Denver, and San Francisco. He married Mary Ann Harmon and had a son named Joseph H. Morgan (born November 15, 1843).2 Around 1857, Mary Ann Harmon died, and a family from Philadelphia adopted J. H. Morgan.3 At the time, Rev. J. R. V. Morgan was serving as missionary pastor in Liberia, Africa.4 Given the time period’s slow transportation and communication systems, it is highly likely that J. R. V. Morgan received news of his wife’s death months after the actual event. In Morgan’s absence, his teenage son sought to be independent, selling cakes and pies at the wharves; later on, he trained as a barber.5
The 1855 National Colored Convention in Philadelphia is one of the last conventions or meetings that Rev. J. R. V. Morgan attended before he set off to Liberia. He came back to the United States in 1859 (or perhaps earlier) due to lack of support from the AME Church. This, however, did not discourage his firm advocacy for the AME That same year, he attended an AME Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with Bishop McNeal Turner, John Peck, and others. The conference resolved to acknowledge antislavery insurrectionist Captain John Brown as a patriot, hero, and a Christian and collected money for Brown’s family.6
Rev. Morgan’s active participation in the church kept him away from his son, and for much of their lives, the two lived in different cities. However, the fact that Joseph H. Morgan eventually became a pastor for the AME Church like his father suggests that they kept a close relationship. Joseph H. Morgan understood the demands of being a reverend and an activist. Once ordained as reverend, Joseph H. Morgan published a book about the AME Church and its history; in it, he includes a profile of his father, himself, and other pastors.7 The depth of Rev. J. R. V. Morgan’s influence over his son is clear. His much lauded oratorical ability, devotion to racial uplift, and bravery made an immense impression on the young Joseph. During the Civil War, Rev. J. R. V. Morgan, by then in his early forties, served in Company C, 43rd Regiment–Infantry–United Colored Troops.8 His son tried to enlist as a soldier but was hired as cook instead.9 This suggests the J. H. Morgan tried to follow his father’s footsteps as much as he could.
The quartermaster of the 43rd RegimentSergeant John C. Brock wrote letters to the editor of The Christian Recorder, which serve as a window to what it was like to be in the company of Rev. Morgan. In his letters, he hints on Morgan’s oratorical abilities: “We had the pleasure of hearing Rev. Jake [John] R. V. Morgan. . . preach, on Sabbath evening last. It revived our memory of days past and gone, when we often had the pleasure of listening to “the Old Man Eloquent.” We find that he has lost none of his enthusiasm, but is still as eloquent as ever. He held the audience spellbound, for almost one hour, listing[sic] to his stirring remarks.”10 Morgan’s ability to lift the morale of soldiers was an invaluable contribution, and his eloquence would make more lasting impressions among those who heard him preach.
After the Civil War, Rev. Morgan traveled around the Northeast, preaching in different cities. In a published letter in The Christian Recorder, a man named Frisby Cooper from Wilmington, Delaware, recounts how people were "seen trembling and bending before the convincing and pungent truths of the gospel, preached by the Rev. D.P. Seaton, Wm. H. Chase, John R. V. Morgan and others."11 Later on, Rev. Morgan traveled from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Maine,12 and eventually moved to San Francisco, California, in 1869, where he continued to work as a pastor.13
Rev. Morgan died in Denver, Colorado, in 1870. Many individuals remembered and honored his remarkable life long after his death. An 1885 notice in The Christian Recorder acknowledges him as one of the organizers of a long-standing Sabbath School in Reading, Pennsylvania,14 and a society called the “Benevolent Sons of Morgan” was founded in his honor.15
Contributed by Samantha de Vera, University of Delaware.
 Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Baltimore, Maryland [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
 Twentieth-Century Negro Literature or Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vita Topics Relating to American Negro. (Library of Alexandria, 1969). Link
 Twentieth-Century Negro Literature
 Twentieth-Century Negro Literature
 “Meeting in Pittsburgh.” The Weekly Anglo-African, 17 Dec. 1859. US African American Newspapers, 1829-1947 via Ancestry.com
 For further reading, see Morgan's History of the New Jersey Conference of the A.M.E. Church, from 1872 to 1887 : and of the several churches, as far as possible, from date of organization, with biographical sketches of members of the conference.
 Records of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War, 1861–1865. Vol 2. (J. L. Murphy, 1876), 1553. Link
 Twentieth-Century Negro Literature
 William Alan Blair and William Pencak. Making and Remaking Pennsylvania’s Civil War. (University Park: Penn State P, 2001), 152.
 Frisby J. Cooper. “Letter from Wilmington, Del--.” The Christian Recorder, 19 Nov. 1866.
 Ancestry.com. U.S., Atlantic Ports Passenger Lists, 1820-1873 and 1893-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010.
 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
 “Sabbath School Anniversary.” The Christian Recorder, 9 Apr. 1885. Accessible Archives.
 “Grand Soiree of the ‘Benevolent Sons of Morgan.’” The Weekly Anglo-African, 25 Feb. 1860. US African American Newspapers, 1829-1947 via Ancestry.com
Rev. John R. V. Morgan's son, Joseph Harmon Morgan, followed his father's footsteps. He wrote the book Morgan's History of the New Jersey Conference of the A.M.E. Church, from 1872 to 1887 : and of the several churches, as far as possible, from date of organization, with biographical sketches of members of the conference to preserve the Church's history and the individuals who contributed to its growth, including himself and his father.