Evidence of a Colored Man Concerning the People of this Comity before the Reconstruction Committee

September 12, 1866


A report from the Congressional Reconstruction Committee is released and citizens are upset to hear that William Thornton a "colored" preacher testified that people who came to his sermons were being punished with stripes and that people were plotting to assassinate him. The account is not accepted as true and efforts are made to discredit it as Radical propaganda to prevent Virginians from being represented in Congress.


Some of our prominent citizens were not a little annoyed at seeing in the voluminous report of the Congressional Reconstruction Committee the evidence of one William Thornton, a colored preacher, who testifies to certain things concerning our good citizens, all going to prove the disloyalty of the people of Virginia, He says: "A gentleman and lady (colored) received a certain number of stripes for going to hear him (Thornton) preach ; that he was informed of a plot to assassinate him, and a Mr. Mahon said things which, if true, were very ugly." If I am not mistaken, he also testified before said committee that he preached in this county once a month. This testimony was given many months ago, and we are unable to learn of more than three visits made by the reverend witness. Moreover, upon inquiry among prominent citizens, we find they knew nothing of the whipping referred to, or the assassination plot, which it seems so shocked this individual's nervous system that many months passed ere he repeated his visit--though in his testimony he says he preaches monthly in this county. I refer to this ridiculous evidence, "so called," simply to show--what has again and again been proven--that our enemies are resorting to every means in order to prove Virginians are unworthy of representation.
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Nat Berry




“Evidence of a Colored Man Concerning the People of this Comity before the Reconstruction Committee,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/316.