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Noah Calwell W. Cannon, 1796?-1850

Noah Calwell W. Cannon was born in Sussex County, Delaware in 1796. He was an active minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, but had a somewhat troubled career. In his History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Daniel Alexander Payne writes of Cannon:

"He had many defects and committed many errors, it is true; but these belonged to the head, and not to the heart. His early education was very defective, but this was his misfortune, not his crime. His mind was erratic... These were his defects. As to his errors, he was too polemic in his sermons; for, no matter what his text or his subject might be, he invariably finished by an attack upon baptism by immersion, and he seldom failed to make masonic allusions. He was too fond of book-making, while he had too little ability for such a work. His first publication was entitled "The Rock of Wisdom," and was issued in 1834. The New York Conference wisely censured him for it, and forbade its republication. A far more appropriate epithet would have been "The Rock of Folly." It was a pretty good cure for "the blues;" for no one of good sense could read it without laughing, not on account of its wit and humor, but on account of its absurdities, incoherencies and contradictions." (253-254)

Notwithstanding the dim view many in the Church took of Cannon's intellectual abilities, he was widely recognized as a zealous Christian and an enthusiastic preacher, who especially enjoyed conducting camp meetings. Cannon spent the last years of his life promoting the growth of the A.M.E. Church in Canada, where he died in 1850.

Karen Ruffle

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