"The next morning I asked my father about the school for coloured people, which was being projected under the influence of General Mahone at Petersburg, now a State Normal School. He told me much about it. It was to open the following fall. The Hon. John M. Langston, he said, a coloured man who was as well educated as any white person that he knew of, was to be the president. He said I might go if I wished and that he would do what he could to help me. It being a state school, and he having certain strong friends in the Republican Party (General Mahone among them), Hon. B.S. Hooper, a member of Congress from the Fourth Congressional District of Virginia, would probably arrange for me to have a scholarship."
Finding a Way Out
by Robert Russa Moton,
Garden City, N. Y., and Toronto,Doubleday, Page & Company
General William Mahone -- "A Founder of Virginia State University"
Mahone --A "Fire-Eater."
Below the James Lies Dixie
by Parke Rouse, Jr.
"No wonder many a Southside father named his son after this fire-eater."
"That was Billy Mahone. Not an easy man. Not a loveable one. But as a Readjuster, he defied the powerful bankers of New York and London and was upheld by the Supreme Court.
No wonder many a Southside father named his son after this fire-eater. As Judge Waddil wrote, "General Mahone was a man absolutely devoid of fear. He did the right thing as he saw it under all circumstances, without regard of consequences."
Of such are saints and heroes made. Virginia found him difficult to live with, but impossible to ignore."
"A friend in need is a friend indeed!"
His Black Confederate Soldiers:
"Officers of the 16th Virginia Infantry posted a young Black male named Ben to guard its surplus rations. When a White private approached and ignored commands to desist, the Afro-Virginian sentry fractured the man's skull with his rifle butt, mortally wounding him. Only after the intervention of General William Mahone himself prevented Ben from being lynched by the dead soldier's comrades. The service of Ben and other Black Virginians influenced the 1928 amendment which awarded state pensions to Black males who served on military details or performed guard duty on behalf of the Confederacy. " --
--Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia, E. L. Jordan, Jr. ;16th Virginia Infantry
Reverend George Freeman Bragg was born in 1863 in Warrenton, North Carolina. Soon after his birth his parents, George Freeman Sr. and Mary Bragg, moved the family to live with his grandmother, Caroline Wiley Bragg, in Petersburg, Virginia. Caroline Bragg, the former slave of an Episcopal priest, had four sons who had helped to establish an African American Episcopal Church in Petersburg. In 1879 Bragg entered the Theological School for Negroes in Petersburg, a branch of the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, in 1879. He was soon suspended however, by school officials who claimed he was "not humble enough." His suspension was most likely connected with his support of a political party called Readjuster, which advocated higher taxes for the rich.
Bragg taught school in Staunton, Virginia until he was allowed to return to the Theological School in 1885. He graduated in 1887, and married Nellie Hill with whom he had four children. In 1902 Wilberforce University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree.
Bragg was ordained a deacon of the Episcopal Church in 1887. One year later he became a priest and was assigned to St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Norfolk, Virginia. In the three years he ministered there, the congregation grew and the church facilities improved because of his efforts. At this time Bragg also established the Industrial School for Colored Girls, and opened the Holy Innocents Mission.
In 1891 Bragg became rector of St. James' Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. At that time St. James' had a sixty-nine member congregation and worshipped in a rented building. Within a few years Bragg raised enough money to buy land and to build a new church, and by 1931 the congregation had five hundred members. Bragg preached at St. James' for forty-nine years, until his death in 1940. Although a candidate for the bishopric more than once, Bragg was never appointed.
Bragg believed the Episcopal Church provided a forum where educated people could communicate across racial divisions. Although he was a candidate for the bishopric more than once, Bragg was never appointed. He spoke in opposition to discrimination within the church; as segregation spread however, he fought, unsuccessfully, to create an African American district and a position for an African American bishop within the Episcopal Diocese of Baltimore.
Bragg was an active member of many organizations outside of the church. In 1884 he was an honorary commissioner of the New Orleans Exposition. Between the years 1887 and 1891 he served as curator of the Hampton Normal and Industrial Institution, chaplain of the second battalion of the Colored Militia, and secretary of the National Colored Association. Beginning in 1892 he became the General Secretary of the Conference of Church Workers, a national organization of African American clergy and laymen. Bragg's most important accomplishment in Baltimore was the establishment of the Maryland Home for Friendless Colored Children (1899). This institution was noted for its progressive approach; it attempted to create a homey atmosphere and to place teen-agers in foster homes. In 1901, he became the first African American elected to the board of managers of the House of Reformation for Colored Boys, a position to which he was annually elected for several years. Bragg worked with Booker T. Washington to prevent disfranchisement in Maryland, but later joined W.E.B. DuBois' Niagara movement which opposed Washington's conservatism. He also led a movement in Baltimore to hire African American teachers for African American students.
Bragg edited and published several newspapers. He founded ""The Lancet"" in 1882, one of the first African American weekly papers. In 1886 he edited ""The Afro-American Churchman"" which later became the ""The Church Advocate."" He was also secretary of the National Colored Press Association. Aside from editing, Bragg wrote many books and over twenty pamphlets, most of which were published by the Church Advocate Press. His best known work, History of the Afro-American Group of the Episcopal Church (1922), was the first book written on this topic. Another book, Men of Maryland (1914), was the first study of African Americans in Maryland. ""The Hero of Jerusalem"" (1926) is an example of one of his pamphlets written in honor of General William Mahone. Many of his articles were published in ""The Church Advocate.""