Paul Quinn College
Historically Black College

 

 

 

R. H. CAIN. From Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising.

RT. REV. RICHARD HARVEY CAIN, D. D.

Bishop A. M. E. Church—Congressman—Senator in the South Carolina Legislature—President of Paul Quinn College.

ONE of the brightest lights of the A. M. E. church was extinguished when Bishop Cain passed away, January 18, 1887. He was born in the "Old Dominican" in 1825, and remained there until the period of boyhood had passed, when his parents carried him to Ohio, first to Portsmouth, then to Cincinnati. The greater opportunities offered to the race in that State, and the liberal public sentiment, was an incentive to the young man to make greater efforts in securing for himself a name and in working for the upbuilding of his race.

He was converted in 1841, and though feeling that he must work for souls, continued his labors as steamboat hand until moving to Hannibal, Missouri, where he was licensed in 1844 by Rev. William Jackson of the M. E. church. Soon after this he returned to Cincinnati, and, being dissatisfied with his church relations, severed his con- nection with the M. E. and joined the A. M. E. His first charge was at Muscatine, Iowa.

After being ordained deacon by Bishop W. P. Quinn, in 1859, feeling a need of greater qualifications he entered Wilberforce University the following year and applied himself diligently to study. In 1861 he was transferred to the New York Conference and had charge of the Brooklyn church four years. April, 1862, he was ordained elder by Bishop Payne in Washington. In 1865 he was sent to the South Carolina Conference. This State proved to be the principal theatre of his action. Church after church sprang into existence as if by magic under his charge. Emmanuel church, having a membership of three thousand; Morris Brown church, with a membership of two thousand; besides churches in Summerville, Lincolnville, Georgetown, Marion, Sumter and other small places were organized by him. Indeed, to him is due the very large membership of the connection in Charleston, which has been quoted at ten thousand. Besides this, he felt that his people had need of him in other fields, and he accordingly interested himself in whatever touched their welfare in the State as well as in the church. He was a member of the Constitutional convention which revised the constitution of South Carolina. Served two years as State Senator from the Charleston district. In 1868 he edited a Republican newspaper, and in 1879 he was elected Republican Representative from South Carolina to the Forty-third Congress. In 1881 he was elected again to the Forty-fifth Congress, and served with distinguished and marked ability. In 1880 he was elected to his present office in the A. M. E. church and assigned to Louisiana and Texas district. His administration as president of the Paul Quinn College was acceptable to all. The title of D. D. was conferred on him by Wilberforce University, and it was borne with honor to himself and the denomination.

The whole career of the bishop excites the admiration of the thoughtful. It is a life well spent, one filled with golden deeds. At a memorial meeting held in Bethel A. M. E. church, New York, February 17,1887, commemorating the life and services of Bishop Cain, Rev. B. W. Derrick, D. D., in a eulogy, said:

As the ministry was of divine appointment, he took the Bible as the book of his council, believing and accepting it to be the true Word of God, subordinating all other professional works to this, the greatest of all books.

Regardless of the difficulties which often cause the minister to lie burdened, emanating from the pastoral work, the attendance of many kinds of meetings, the worldly-mindedness of believers, the false-heartedness of brethren, the care of loved ones, besides his studies, yet none of these things moved him. His life he counted not dear.

His relation to his church was of the most binding character; his heart and soul were deeply ingrafted into her moral and spiritual welfare; as a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal church he was able, intelligent and logical. He would often say that he considered the African Methodist Episcopal church to be an instrument, created for a special work in the civilizing and evangelizing of Africa. He considered the Bible to be the chart by which Christian mariners are guided across time's trackless ocean. Through his labors and influence, upwards of one hundred thousand souls were gathered into the African Methodist Episcopal church throughout the State of South Carolina. From among this number the church points with pride to some of her most able and educated ministers.

Death has robbed this denomination of its richest gem in the person of our deceased brother, whose influence is felt like a mantle of love from rice swamps of the south to the bleak coasts of New England. In the days when men suffered for even advocating mission work among the lowly cabins of the Negro, this brother with fearless love visited his oppressed brethren in their degradation and poverty, and filled their scanty houses with the soul-reviving truths of the Gospel, for he believed that the true mission of a minister was to better humanity and uplift the down-fallen.

The mortal remains of R. H. Cain have been consigned to an honorable and long-remembered tomb ; but the memory of his Christian statesmanship, translucent in the highest degree, rises above the average, and open and faithful more than almost any of his compeers. He surely could be considered a captain of the hosts, one of the kindliest and pleasantest of Christian statesmen, a man of clear, good judgment, blended with a strong resolution and firmness which made him a master of many difficult situations in the active political career which marked with brilliant success his statesmanship.

While in Congress, with valiant loyalty to his race, he fought for the civil rights of the Negro, and in defense of the brother whom many defamers attempted to falsify, Bishop Cain made one of the most eloquent and weighty, speeches of his life. To Carolina and Texas he was a brilliant star, and the Paul Quinn College, Waco, Texas, will always remember with pride her honored president. No denominational line marked the admiration and love for this brother. He was universally esteemed as one of the brightest lights of his race.

Said The American Baptist, February 5, 1887:

"Death loves a shining mark" has been exemplified in the taking away of so many noble men, during the last year, of the race. Amid all the disadvantages of slavery and by hard pushes, Bishop Cain elbowed himself to the front rank. Twice a Congressman ; twice a State Senator; what a testimony of duty well performed! To the young men of our race and especially to the young men of the church whose Bishop he was, be has left a priceless legacy. Though gone to his eternal reward, yet the life which he lived here shows ever to them that from the humblest position in the scale of existence, they may rise to the very acme of the noblest calling known to men. Industry, truth, courage and faith, and the example he has left us, are the essentials that mark every prosperous and elevated career.

At the memorial meeting held at Quinn chapel, Louisville, Kentucky, Sunday January 30, 1887, there were delivered by two Baptists, Rev. W. J. Simmons, D. D., and W. H. Steward, Esq., and one Methodist, Rev. W. R. Harper, presiding elder, the following resolutions, which were adopted.

WHEREAS, it hath pleased Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, in the fulfillment of his Divine purposes, to remove from us our beloved Bishop, Richard Harvey Cain, D. D., we the members and congregation of Quinn chapel in memorial service assembled, do join in weeping "with those who weep" in consequence of the sad bereavement which hath befallen the whole A. M. E. church. While with profound grief we learn of the death of this distinguished man of God and deeply mourn our irreparable loss, yet realizing that this dispensation has been for the best, we bow with humble submission to the Divine will.

By the death of Bishop Cain, the Board of Bishops have lost a wise and honored colleague, the clergy a minister of vast erudition and acknowledged ability, the A. M. E. church an earnest, faithful pastor, the cause of education a teacher who delighted in progress and freely gave his time and means for the instruction of the young, and the country a just and illustrious citizen.

Full of mercy and good fruits he gave himself, and wherever he could accomplish most for the Master whom he rejoiced to serve, he was always proud. He was chaste in thought and word, and was a living epistle seen and read of all men ; but he is no longer with us. He died in the Lord; " he rests from his labors; his works do follow him." For these reasons, therefore be it

Resolved, That in the death of Richard Harvey Cain, D. D., late Bishop of the A. M. E. church, Christianity has lost a friend and earnest advocate, the race one of its noblest, and most highly esteemed representatives, the country, a citizen of unsullied character, of matchless worth. and the youth of the church a father whose example is worthy of imitation. And be it further

Resolved, That a copy of these resolution be sent to the members of the family of the deceased as a testimony of our sympathy in this hour of loss and bereavement, and that a copy be sent to the Christian Recorder, N. Y. Freeman, and the American Baptist.

J. M. MAXWELL,
J. E. SIMPSON,
MRS. M. A. JOHNSON, Committee.

 

 

Sketch from Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising By William J. Simmons, Henry McNeal Turner

 

 

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