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Thomas W. Henry, 1794-1877
Autobiography of Rev. Thomas W. Henry, of the A. M. E. Church
[Baltimore]: [The Author], [1872].


Thomas W. Henry (1794-1877) was born in Leonardtown, Maryland and was one of 969 slaves belonging to Richard Barnes, an Englishman. After Barnes's death, Henry was sent to Hagerstown, Maryland, where he was bonded to several men until the age of twenty-two. While serving his last master, a devoutly religious man, Henry converted from Catholicism to Protestantism in 1819. He received his freedom in January 1821 and began his ministry by officiating at funerals. He was given a license to preach in the Methodist Episcopal Church, although he eventually renounced his membership there because of a church conflict. He was licensed to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in 1835. Following his appointment as an elder in the church, Henry received his first commission, overseeing Bethel Church in Frederick County, Maryland. Throughout his professional career, he worked on several circuits in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., where he was living at the time his Autobiography was published. Henry married twice. He had four children with his first wife, who was a slave when they married. He purchased her and two of his children, but before he could raise funds to free the other two children, they were sold.

Thomas Henry's Autobiography of Rev. Thomas W. Henry, of the A. M. E. Church [1872] records the struggles and triumphs of Henry's career in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This chronological account begins with Henry's early years and religious conversion, and the bulk of the narrative describes the churches, conferences, and religious events in which Henry participated. The narrative also highlights individuals who had a major impact on his ministry. Henry mentions the recurring hardships of his profession, including financial instability and dissension among church members and leaders.

Monique Prince

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