John Jasper was born a slave, the last of 24 children. He
grew up on a plantation where he labored in the fields until
he reached adulthood. One day, in 1839, while working in a
tobacco factory, he was converted to Christ. Immediately
sensing a divine call to the ministry, he began to tell ev-
eryone of his salvation.
He preached for 60 years, 25 of them as a slave. Af-
ter the Civil War, he started a church on an island on the
James River in Richmond, Virginia. The congregation grew to
thousands before his death. Legislators, judges, governors,
and many men of distinction went to hear him preach. He
preached the fundamental doctrines of the faith with
unsurpassed ardor. Jasper believed the Bible to be the source
of all authority, and he preached it in nearly every county
and city in Virginia and often beyond.
He was sought after continually, and in that respect
he stood unmatched by any man of his race. His moral and re-
ligious ideals were very lofty, and he lived up to them to a
degree not true of many men. Many of the most distinguished
white ministers of the country went to hear him preach when
they were in Richmond.
John Jasper was called the most original, masterful
and powerful Negro preacher that this country has ever