Archive for March, 2010
For the remainder of Holy Week, I’m going to take a break from writing new articles. We’ll have new material up on Bright Monday, April 5. In the meantime, feel free to check out our many past articles — we’ve got almost 200 up so far, and you can navigate them with the “tags” on the right side of our main website, www.orthodoxhistory.org.
Also, if you haven’t done so already, please take a couple of minutes to fill out the anonymous online survey being conducted by Donna Mazziotti of the University of Scranton.
A blessed Holy Week and joyous Pascha to all of you!
Marcus Garvey was a widely influential black nationalist from Jamaica. He promoted black pride and championed the “back to Africa” movement. In 1916, when he was just 29 years old and at the outset of his public career, he visited the United States and embarked on a 38-state speaking tour. Not all of the black Americans who attended his lectures liked what they heard. Among those unhappy with Garvey was Fr. Raphael Morgan, the first black Orthodox priest in America. As we’ve discussed in the past, Morgan was born in Jamaica, and in 1916, he was living in Philadelphia, affiliated with the city’s Greek Orthodox church. In response to Garvey’s speeches, Morgan and some associates addressed the following letter to the editors of the Jamaican newspapers:
September 19, 1916
The Editor, Dear Sir, –
We the undersigned Jamaicans, residents of the United States for several years beg your permission to call to your attention and the public of Jamaica a matter affecting the welfare of Jamaicans at home and abroad.
Under the caption of Journalist and President of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Jamaica, W.I., one Marcus Garvey, Jr., is giving an extended series of lectures in this Country, pertaining to the social and economic conditions of Jamaica.
We, having attended his lectures, found them to be pernicious, misleading, and derogatory to the prestige of the Government and the people.
Among the many assertions of the speaker are the following: –
1. Governmental misrule, causing economic depression, poverty, and misery with their detrimental consequences.
2. The falsity and hypocrisy of the existing social condition between the white and black races – to wit:
Absorption by inter-marriage of the intellectually superior and advanced blacks with whites, with the view of estranging and nullifying their usefulness to their race.
Result – Acquiescence, arrogance, and unapproachableness, on the part of these blacks who inter-marry. The white wife tires. There is an ultimate separation. Wife returns to her native land. Husband in Jamaica contributes to her support abroad.
3. The Governmental and Commercial interests connive to keep the scale of wage so low that the labouring classes are unable to meet the necessary demands to sustain their needsand wants. The girls of Jamaica are resorting to vice and immorality through lack of industrial opportunities and poor economic conditions. Praedial larceny is rampant and the jails are filled[.] Education is restricted and limited to the children of the poorer classes causing intellectual deficiency to the masses.
4. He drew a deplorable picture of the prejudice of the Englishman in Jamaica against the blacks, portraying hypocrisy and deceit of his attitude towards the blacks, and stated his preference for the prejudice of the American to that of the Englishman.
Mr. Editor, the above are only a few of the damaging statements being disseminated by the aforesaid Marcus Garvey, Jr., among the American public.
Further details would be a repetition of the demoralising utterances of the speaker.
The bad effects of these lectures on the minds of the American public are deplorable and are causing great indignation among Jamaicans here, who feel greatly humiliated.
Thanking you for space and hoping through this medium Jamaicans will be enlightened on the seriousness of this matter. We are,
Father Raphael, O.C.G., Priest-Apostolic, the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church, Dr. Uriah Smith, Ernest P. Duncan, Ernest K. Jones, H.S. Boulin, Phillip Hemmings, Joseph Vassal, Henry H. Harper, S.C. Box, Aldred Campbell, Hubert Barclay, John Moore, Victor Monroe, Henry Booth and many others.
This letter was published in the Kingston Gleaner (10/4/1916) and the Jamaica Times (10/7/1916). A month later, Marcus Garvey issued a reply. According to the Gleaner (11/14/1916), “Mr. Garvey said that the letter which is a concoction and a gross fabrication, was written by his enemies in Jamaica and sent to Philadelphia to be transmitted to the Gleaner, for the purpose of prejudicing him in the eyes of the Government and those who have always wished him well in his efforts in Jamaica, as well as with the intention of interfering with his success in America.”
The original letter, by Morgan and friends, raises all sorts of questions. Take, for instance, the letters after Morgan’s name — “O.C.G.” From other sources, we know that this stands for “Order of the Cross of Golgotha,” a body of which Morgan was the “founder and superior.” But what, exactly, was the Order of the Cross of Golgotha? Roman Catholicism has all sorts of religious “orders,” but the concept is exceedingly rare among the Orthodox. I suspect, but cannot prove, that Morgan may have created the Order for black Americans. Were the other 13 signers of the Garvey letters members of this Order? Was its membership restricted to Orthodox Christians, or did Morgan welcome non-Orthodox to join? Was its establishment blessed by the Church of Greece — of which Morgan was a priest — or was Morgan operating independently? The whole Order is almost a complete mystery.
Could Morgan’s fellow signers provide clues, both about the Order and about Morgan’s whereabouts after 1916? Many of the signers seem to have been working-class people. Here are a few of them, with ages and occupations from the 1910 or 1920 Censuses:
- Ernest K. Jones, 37, construction worker
- Philip Hemmings, 43, sailor
- Henry H. Harper, 29, waiter
- John Moore, 51, contractor
- Henry Booth, 32, laborer
I found another signer, Hubert Barclay, on an Ellis Island passenger manifest dated March 31, 1915 (i.e., about 18 months prior to the Garvey letter). Barclay, a 42-year-old coachman, was coming to the US from Jamaica. He was born in Chapelton, Clarendon, Jamaica — the same town as Fr. Raphael Morgan. The two men probably grew up together.
H.S. Boulin was the owner of a black doll company in Harlem. And while he signed the 1916 letter against Garvey, he eventually became one of Garvey’s closest confidants. Unbeknownst to Garvey, though, Boulin was also Agent P-138 — a spy for J. Edgar Hoover’s new Federal Bureau of Investigation. Here’s some background on Boulin, from Robert A. Hill’s multivolume collection of Garvey documents:
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1873, Herbert Simeon Boulin served in the British army from 1902 until 1907. After spending most of his term of service in Africa, he returned to Jamaica in 1907. In 1908 he visited Philadelphia, where he decided to make his home. He opened up a school for teaching shorthand, but it soon failed. Afterward, he worked as a laborer at a local shipyard and then as an employee of the Pinkerton Detective Agency between 1915 and 1920. In January 1920 Boulin became a U.S. citizen. In July 1920 he was hired by the Bureau of Investigation to investigate the Garvey movement. After J. Edgar Hoover sent him a letter terminating his services in August 1921, Boulin opened his own detective agency, promoting his services by advertising his status as a former employee of the Department of Justice.
Boulin infiltrated Garvey’s organization, funneling information back to FBI headquarters. I’d guess that Boulin met Morgan in 1908, upon his arrival in Philadelphia. It’s entirely possible that there is information on Morgan — by way of Boulin — in the FBI archives.
Philip Hemmings also became close with Garvey, although in his case, he was no secret agent. In 1920, he was one of the signers of Garvey’s famous “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World.” Another signer of the 1920 Declaration was a man named George Alexander McGuire. Of course, we’ve talked about McGuire before — he was a black Episcopal priest from the West Indies, and he almost certainly knew Fr. Raphael Morgan. Later, in 1921, he established a noncanonical body called the “African Orthodox Church.” McGuire and Marcus Garvey eventually had a falling-out, but the African Orthodox Church spread to Africa itself, and the group in Africa ultimately joined the canonical Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.
The 1916 letter against Marcus Garvey is the last thing I’ve found on Fr. Raphael Morgan. After that, Morgan vanishes from the historical record. His end is one of the great mysteries of American Orthodox history.
Today is both the Feast of the Annunciation (on the New Calendar), and Greek Independence Day. With that in mind, I decided to look in my archives for American accounts of the Greek War of Independence, in 1821. I have quite a few reports from various newspapers and journals, and the single event that received the most attention seems to have been the martyrdom of Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople. This took place at the very outset of the Greek Revolution, and was a direct Turkish response to the initial rebellion.
Patriarch Gregory was murdered on Pascha, in April, but the news didn’t start to trickle into the United States until the summer. Here’s the first report I’ve found, from the Connecticut Gazette (7/11/1821): “Constantinople is a scene of disturbance and massacre. The grand Seignor, to revenge the insurrection in his northern provinces, has had recourse to the most dreadful reprisals. The Greek Patriarch has been strangled, and four Archbishops have been massacred.”
The Religious Intelligencer (8/4/1821) soon published a fuller report. This account was sent from Vienna on May 17, and later appered in several other American periodicals.
Letters from Constantinople of the 25th April, give a deplorable picture of the state of things there. On Easter Sunday, April 23rd, when Gregory, the patriarch of Constantinople, 74 years of age, was just going to read High Mass in the Patriarchal Chapel, he was seized by order of the Sultan, and hanged at the door of the temple; a mode of death which in the eyes of all the Greeks is the most infamous, and must therefore excite boundless hatred. All the Archbishops and Bishops who were in the Church on account of the celebration of Easter, were either executed or thrown into prison. The congregation fled out of the Church to the neighbouring houses of the priest, but many were murdered by the enraged populace.
The cruel fate of the Patriarch appears to be the less merited, as he had, only on the 21st of March, solemnly proclaimed in the Chapel, curse and the ban of the Church against all the Greeks who attempted to withdraw from the Turkish yoke. In the formal anathema published on this occasion, he had (probably by compulsion) made use of the Holy Gospel to impress upon the Greeks that their Turkish Governors were appointed by God.
Nothing particular was proved respecting the motives for the execution of the Patriarch. But as Bishop Nicholas, of Trepoliza, in the Mora, leader of the Greeks and Mainotes, there in arms against the Turks, is brother to the murdered Patriarch, it is supposed that the Port[e] was thus induced to suspect the venerable old man. But it is certain that this execution will excite the utmost desperation among the Christians throughout Greece. It is worthy of remark, that all the Greek bishops who concurred in singing the anathema, now languish in prisons, and will probably share the fate of their Patriarch.
A note that follows the letter adds, “Several have since done so, and the Greek churches at Constantinople have been destroyed.” According to the official website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “For three days, his [Gregory's] body rested thus hanging, receiving the mockings of the angry crowd. A group of Jews bought the corpse and circulated it round the city, before throwing it in the Ceratius gulf. Fortunately, the captain Nicholas Sklavos, found his relic in the sea, and transfered it secretely to Odessa, where it was buried in the Greek Church of the Holy Trinity.” In 1871, Gregory’s relics were translated to Athens.
On October 5, the Christian Register printed a July 20 letter from Paris, offering some background on Patriarch Gregory:
Gregory, the pious and venerable Patriarch of Constantinople, who lately fell a victim to the infatuation and revenge of the populace, in the 80th year of his age, was a native of Peloponnesus. He was first consecrated to the Archepiscopal See of Smyrna, where he left honourable testimonials of his piety and Christian virtues. Translated to the Patriarchal throne of Constantinople, he occupied it at three distinct periods, for under the Musselman [Muslims] despotism was introduced and perpetuated, the anticanonical custom of frequently changing the head of the Greek clergy.
During his first Patriarchate he had the good fortune to save the Greek Christians from the fury of the Divan, who had it in contemplation to make the people responsible for the French expedition into Egypt. He succeeded in preserving his countrymen from the hatred of the Turks, but he was not the better treated for his interposition; the Turkish government banished him to Mount Athos. Recalled to his See some years after, he was again exposed to great danger in consequence of the war with Russia; and on the appearance of an English fleet off Constantinople, the Patriarch was exiled anew to Mount Athos, and once more ascended his throne, on which he terminated his career.
This Prelate invariably manifested the most rigid observance of his sacred duties; and in private life he was plain, affable, virtuous, and of an exemplary life. To him the merit is ascribed of establishing a patriarchate press. He has left a numerous collection of pastoral letters and sermons, which evince his piety and distinguished talents. He translated and printed in modern Greek, with annotations, the Epistles of the Apostles. He lived like a father, among his diocesans, and the sort of death he died adds greatly to their sorrow and veneration for his memory. This Prelate had not taken the least share in the insurrection of the Greeks; he had even pronounced an anathema against the authors of the rebellion; an anathema dictated indeed, by the Musselman’s sabres, but granted to prevent the effusion of blood, and the massacre of the Greek Christians.
The dates of these reports give a sense of the state of global communications in the early 19th century. Patriarch Gregory was killed in April, but news didn’t reach the US until July. The May 17 report from Vienna wasn’t published in America until August 4; the July 20 Paris letter made its first apperance on October 5. Another bit of news, dated September 12 and sent from St. Petersburg in Russia, was published in the Washington Gazette on December 4:
The Court Gazette of to day contains a long recital of the solemn interment of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It concludes with these words: — “It is in this manner that by order of Alexander I, Emperor of all the Russias, the last duties of Christian faith and charity, have been rendered to a holy Patriarch of the orthodox oriental Greek Church, Gregory, who suffered martyrdom.” This declaration formally denies the assertion of the [Turkish] Porte, in its answer to the Russian ultimatum, that the Patriarch was guilty of treason.
The American media — particularly the various Protestant journals — often held the Orthodox in rather low regard, viewing them as superstitious, backward idolators. I was somewhat surprised, then, to see Patriarch Gregory treated with such respect and admiration. I have not found a single American account of the Patriarch which was critical of him, or decried his role as a hierarch, or anything.
Patriarch Gregory had been hanged over the gate of the Phanar, the Patriarchal church. The gate was welded shut after Gregory’s death, and it remains sealed to this day, a memorial to the martyred Patriarch.
For more information, see the website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as the OrthodoxWiki entry for Patriarch Gregory. And if you read Russian (or use Google Translator), there’s an informative article on Gregory at this link.
Over at Frontier Orthodoxy I have put up a post on St. Makarii of Glukharev. He was not an American saint. Nor did he ever come to America. I mention him here, though, as a reminder that the missionary work to Alaska did not occur in a vacuum. It was part of a larger missionary enterprise within the Russian Empire itself. This is a point that is sometimes forgotten, I think, in a haste to be anachronistic and see Alaska as the intended beginnings of converting all North Americans. Later, of course, Alaska does become part of the United States of America as a territory. Three years after that, the headquarters is moved to San Francisco, as recommended initially by St. Innocent when he learned of the sale of Alaska. St. Innocent had a progressive vision, but Alaska initially is best understood not as a fulfilling of that later vision but as a further example of the missionary efforts undertaken in the nineteenth century within the Russian Empire.
For those who may be interested in learning about St. Makarii, you may read here:
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Donna Mazziotti, a librarian at The University of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is conducting a study about theology and technology. She would love to hear from OrthodoxHistory.org users about how they access the content and use the information contained on OrthodoxHistory.org. As a user of this site and its content, please take a brief moment to take this anonymous user survey, located at the following link: