Engraving illustrating the caning of J.R. Graves by an ex-congressman in front of Scovel's drug store in Nashville for alleged slander.
Though raised in a Congregational background, he joined a Baptist church at age 15. He is recognized[by whom?] as one of the most influential[peacock term] men in the Southern Baptist Convention in the 19th century, and the chief promulgator of the Landmark movement. Graves was one of the Convention's most gifted[peacock term] speakers. Thomas Treadwell Eaton wrote, "We have seen him hold a congregation packed uncomfortably, for three hours and a half without any sign of weariness on their part. This was not done once or twice, but scores of times." Denominational leader J. B. Gambrell described one of Graves' sermons at a small church in Mississippi as "The Greatest Sermon I Ever Heard."