John Jasper

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John Jasper
John Jasper 1911.jpg
Born(1812-07-04)July 4, 1812
Fluvanna County, Virginia, US
Died(1901-03-30)March 30, 1901
OccupationBaptist Minister
  • Elvy Weaden
  • Candus Jordan
  • Mary Ann Cole
Parent(s)Philip and Tina Jasper

John Jasper (July 4, 1812 – March 30, 1901) was an ex-slave who became a Baptist minister and noted public speaker for Christianity after the American Civil War.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born into slavery on July 4, 1812 in Fluvanna County, Virginia, to Philip and Tina Jasper one of twenty-four children of Philip. Philip was a well known Baptist preacher while Tina was a slave of a Mr. Peachy. Jasper was hired out to various people and when Mr. Peachy's mistress died, he was given to her son, John Blair Peachy, a lawyer who moved to Louisiana. Jasper's time in Louisiana was short, as his new master soon died, and he returned to Richmond, Virginia.[2] Jasper experienced a personal conversion to Christianity in Capital Square in 1839. Jasper convinced a fellow slave to teach him to read and write, and began studying to become a Baptist minister.[3]


Jasper married three times: first to Elvy Weaden, who left him, secondly, to Candus Jordan in 1844, with whom he had nine children before they divorced, and thirdly to Mary Ann Cole in 1863, who died on August 6, 1874.[2]


For more than two decades, Rev. Jasper traveled throughout Virginia, often preaching at funeral services for fellow slaves. He often preached at Third Baptist Church in Petersburg, Virginia. He also preached to Confederate Soldiers during the American Civil War (1861–65).[2]

A picture of Jasper published in 1902

After his own emancipation following the American Civil War, Rev. Jasper founded the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, which by 1887 had attracted 2500 members and served as a religious and social center of Richmond's predominately black Jackson Ward—providing a Sunday School and other services. Jasper's vivid oratory and dramatic speaking style brought renown and calls for him to preach throughout the Eastern United States. His most famous sermon, The Sun Do Move, expressed his deep faith in God through the imagery of a flat Earth around which the sun rotates.[3]

Death and legacy[edit]

He delivered his last sermon a few days before his death at the age of 88. The Library of Virginia honored him as one of the African-American trailblazers in its "Strong Men and Women" series in 2012.[3]


  1. ^ John Jasper – Unmatched orator
  2. ^ a b c Simmons, William J., and Henry McNeal Turner. Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising. GM Rewell & Company, 1887, pp. 1064–1072.
  3. ^ a b c "John Jasper", African American Trailblazers in Virginia History,