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Tanner, Benjamin Tucker

Tanner, Benjamin Tucker

December 25, 1835
January 14, 1923

The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church bishop and editor Benjamin Tucker Tanner was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and worked as a barber while he attended Avery College (18521857) and Western Theological Seminary (18571860). In 1860 he was ordained a deacon and then an elder in the AME Church. In 1867 Tanner became the principal of the AME Conference School in Frederickstown, Maryland. Later he was appointed to Bethel Church in Philadelphia. From 1868 to 1884 Tanner edited the Christian Recorder, an AME publication. During the 1870s he was awarded a master's degree from Avery and an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Wilberforce. In 1884 Tanner founded the A.M.E. Church Review, a quarterly journal focusing on African-American issues. Tanner became known as the king of the Negro editors. A black nationalist, he believed that racial solidarity was needed to combat racial injustice and he encouraged black-owned business. In 1888 Tanner was consecrated a bishop. In 1901 he served as dean of Payne Theological Seminary at Wilberforce University. Tanner retired in 1908 at the AME General Conference. He and his wife, Sarah Miller, whom he had married in 1858, had seven children, including the painter Henry Ossawa Tanner. Benjamin Tanner wrote several books, including An Apology for African Methodism (1867).

See also African Methodist Episcopal Church; Tanner, Henry Ossawa


Bowden, Henry Warner. Dictionary of American Religious Biography, 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1993, pp. 538539.

Seraile, Willam. Fire in His Heart: Bishop Benjamin Tucker Tanner and the A.M.E. Church. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1998.

sasha thomas (1996)
Updated bibliography

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