Benjamin Tucker Tanner

Benjamin Tucker Tanner (external link) (1835–1923). Collection: Smithsonian Archives of American Art

A lifelong advocate for the advancement of his fellow African Americans, Benjamin Tucker Tanner (1835–1923) was born into a poor, working-class family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Following his 1860 graduation from Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Tanner was appointed interim pastor at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church, one of the largest black congregations in Washington, D.C. He was ordained as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in 1862, and his mission work for this denomination included founding an early school for freedmen at the Washington Navy Yard. He subsequently opened another freedmen’s school in Frederick, Maryland. Following the Civil War, Tanner served for many years as the editor of the Christian Recorder, at that time the largest black-owned periodical in the United States. Tanner was elected a bishop of the A.M.E. Church in 1888.

Related Items