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Christopher McPherson, b. 1763?
A Short History of the Life of Christopher McPherson, Alias Pherson, Son of Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Containing a Collection of Certificates, Letters, &c. Written by Himself
Lynchburg, VA: Christopher McPherson Smith. Printed at The Virginian Job Office, 1855.


Christopher McPherson, a mixed-race slave, was born ca. 1763 and lived much of his life in and around Richmond, Virginia. He served in the Revolutionary War as a clerk, and continued in this profession after the war. When he was approximately 29 years old, his owner emancipated him. In 1799, he converted to Christianity, and shortly thereafter began to refer to himself as the "true, real-established and declared representative of Christ Jesus." He often presented himself as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords," referencing Revelation 19:16 as his personal commission. McPherson believed his spiritual duty was to reveal to world leaders his vision of future events concerning the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. In particular, he followed the prophecy of Nimrod Hughes, a Virginian who predicted that a third of mankind would be destroyed (Rev 9:15, 18) on June 4, 1812.

Christopher McPherson's A Short History of the Life of Christopher McPherson was originally published ca. 1811 and reprinted by Christopher McPherson Smith in 1855. He details hardships—including imprisonment, difficulty in obtaining property, and even committal to a mental asylum—endured as a result of his religious fervor and race. McPherson also records his involvement in several lawsuits, which he filed against the Commonwealth of Virginia; Dr. James Drew McCaw, Richmond's master of police; and others, regarding his unjust treatment and imprisonment. McPherson saw these suits as a means of restoring the honor and integrity due God's appointed ambassador, rather than as a personal pursuit of justice.

Much of the narrative concerns his interest in Hughes's prophecy, which compelled him to send letters to rulers around the world urging the necessity of peace, love, and justice. Thus in concluding his work, McPherson appends letters written to Napoleon Bonaparte, the President of the United States, the Emperor of Germany, the King of England, and even the Pope that warn of imminent world doom unless measures toward peace are taken. On a separate occasion, facilitated by Thomas Jefferson's letter of introduction, McPherson visited with President James Madison and his wife. As McPherson recalls the occasion, he "sat at table, evening and morning with Mr. Madison, his lady and company, and enjoyed a full share of the conversation" (17).

Monique Prince

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