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Hood, James Walker

Hood, James Walker

May 30, 1831
October 30, 1918

The minister James Walker Hood was born in Kennett Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and moved with his family to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1841. His father was a tenant farmer who helped found the local Methodist church. In 1852 Hood moved to New York City and was licensed to preach there in 1856 by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church. In 1857 he moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he joined the local AMEZ church. Three years later he was ordained a deacon in that denomination and sent as a missionary to Nova Scotia. He returned to the United States in 1863, and served a congregation at Bridgeport, Connecticut. The following year he was sent to North Carolina to minister to freedmen within Union lines. He remained in North Carolina for the rest of his life, working in New Bern, Charlotte, and Fayetteville, where he finally settled.

Hood was a delegate to North Carolina's Constitutional Convention in 1868, and that same year was appointed assistant superintendent of public instruction in North Carolina, a position he held for three years. In 1872 he was ordained a bishop of the AMEZ church. In 1879 he was instrumental in the founding of Zion Wesley Institute (later Livingston College) in Salisbury, North Carolina. He served as chairman of the institute's board of trustees until his retirement in 1916.

Hood traveled to London as a delegate to the interdenominational 1881 Ecumenical Conference, and to Washington as the first black president of the 1891 conference. In 1884 a collection of his sermons appeared under the title The Negro in the Christian Pulpit. It was the first publication of its kind by an African-American clergyman. Hood's other published work includes One Hundred Years of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (1895) and The Plan of the Apocalypse (1900). From 1901 to 1909 Hood was an informal advisor to Theodore Roosevelt. Hood Theological Seminary, established in 1912 at Livingston College, was named in his honor.

See also African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church


"James Walker Hood." Religious Leaders of America, 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999.

Murphy, Larry G., J. Gordon Malton, and Gary L. Ward. Encyclopedia of African-American Religions. New York: Garland, 1993.

Simmons, William J. Men of Mark. Cleveland: O. G. M. Rewell, 1887. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1968

lydia mcneill (1996)
Updated bibliography

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