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Daniel Coker

File:Daniel Coker, Sierra Leone, AME, 1820.JPG
Daniel Coker, African-American missionary to Sierra Leone, 1820

Daniel Coker (1780–1846), born Isaac Wright, was an African American and the first Methodist missionary to the British colony of Sierra Leone. Coker is one of the founding organizers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church as well as the founder of the West Africa Methodist Church.[1]

Early life

Daniel Coker was born a slave in 1780 in Baltimore,Maryland, to a white indentured servant mother and a black slave father [2][3] in Baltimore. Coker's received a primary school education because his white half brother refused to go to school without him.[1]

Methodist clergyman

In 1802, Francis Asbury ordained Daniel Coker to be a deacon in the Methodist Episcopal church. He actively opposed slavery. In 1810, he published Dialogue between a Virginian and an African minister.. Participated in organizing the national African Methodist Episcopal Church at meeting in Philadelphia in 1816 on behalf of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, (founded 1787/1797) [4]

Emigration to Western Africa

Early in 1820,[5] Daniel Coker sailed for Africa on board the Elizabeth. He was part of 86 emigrants assisted by the American Colonization Society (ACS). This voyage of the Elizabeth marks the beginning of what is now Liberia. Coker is one of the first African American missionaries to go to Africa. While in transit, ten days after the ship left New York, he organized the first foreign branch of the AME Church. The ACS planned to settle a colony at Sherbro. Swampy, disease-ridden conditions soon claimed the lives of all but one of the twelve white colonists and many of the African Americans, as well. Just before his death, the expedition's leader asked Coker to take charge of the venture. He helped the remaining colonists get through their despair and to survive.[6]


Coker, his wife, and his children settled in Hastings, Sierra Leone a newly established village for Sierra Leone Liberated Africans.[7] Coker became the patriarch of a prominent Krio family the Cokers. Coker's son, Daniel Coker Jr. was a prominent man in the town of Freetown[8] and the Cokers and their descendants still reside inside Freetown as one of the prominent Krio families. Henry McNeal Turner elaborated on this when he said 'It would seem, from all I can learn, that Coker played a prominent part in the early settlement of Liberia. The first Methodist Church established here was the African M. E. Church; but by whom established I cannot say. Tradition says it was afterward sold out to the M. E. Church. Besides the probability of Rev. Daniel Coker's having established our church here, he also played a mighty part among the early settlers of Sierra Leone. His children and grandchildren are found there to-day.'[9]

See also



  1. ^ a b Aaseng, Nathan (2003). "Coker, Daniel". African-American Religious Leaders: A-Z of African Americans. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing. p. 42,43. ISBN 9781438107813 
  2. ^ At least one source suggests that his father was the white indentured servant father and that his mother was a black slave.
  3. ^ Newman, R.; Rael, P.; Lapsansky, P., eds. (2001). "Chapter 3: Daniel Coker". Pamphlets of Protest: An Anthology of Early African-American Protest Literature, 1790-1860. New York, NY: Routledge. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-415-92443-6 
  4. ^ Lofton, Kathryn E. (2010). "Coker, Daniel". In Alexander, Leslie M.; Rucker, Walter C. Encyclopedia of African American History v. 2. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO , LLC. p. 341. ISBN 978-1-85109-774-6 
  5. ^ Sources give late January or early February for Coker's departure.
  6. ^ Walston, Vaughn J.; Stevens, Robert J., editors, eds. (2002). African-American Experience in World Mission: A Call Beyond Community, Volume 1. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. p. 31. ISBN 0-87808-609-9. 
  7. ^ Sidbury, James (2007). Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic (Google eBook). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-19-532010-7. 
  8. ^ Dixon-Fyle, Mac; Cole, Gibril Raschid, eds. (2006). New Perspectives on the Sierra Leone Krio. American University Studies Series IX, History. Vol. 204. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 0-8204-7937-3. 
  9. ^ Turner, Henry McNeal (December 7, 1891). "Thirteenth Letter". African Letters. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 


External links

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