After the convention, Corprew returned to Virginia and tried to implement the egalitarian vision described at Syracuse. He may even have joined the United States Army; pension records from 1890 suggest that Corprew enlisted in the 1st United States Colored Cavalry under an assumed name. Edward Sparrow, "Edingborough G. Corprew, alias," enlisted on December 10, 1864, and served until February 1, 1866. Because the 1st United States Colored Cavalry was based in Hampton, Virginia, near Corprew's home, this is a plausible scenario.
The only reason to doubt Corprew's military service is that he worked full time as a missionary for the American Baptist Home Mission Society at the same time that he was supposedly serving in the army. During the calendar year after his commission as an assistant missionary on June 1, 1864, Corprew taught school during the week to 100 students and on Sundays supervised the education of 260 more. He was promoted to full missionary status in 1865 and began to preach and to baptize new converts while continuing his work as an educator. He remained on the Society's payroll until 1868.
Corprew died in 1881.
ca. 1830 - Edenborough G. Corprew is born free in Deep Creek Village, just outside of Portsmouth.
June 1, 1864 - E. G. Corprew is commissioned an assistant missionary with the American Baptist Home Mission Society. He teaches school during the week to 100 students and on Sundays supervises the education of 260 more.
October 4–7, 1864 - E. G. Corprew and four other free black Virginians—R. D. Beckley, Sampson White, James P. Morrison, and William Keeling—attend the National Convention of Colored Men in Syracuse, New York. They advocate for equal rights for African Americans and hope to make emancipation a condition of peace.
December 10, 1864 - E. G. Corprew appears to enlist in the 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry under an assumed name, Edward Sparrow.
1865 - E. G. Corprew is promoted to full missionary in the American Baptist Home Mission Society. His promotion casts some doubt on his simultaneous service in the 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry.
February 1, 1866 - E. G. Corprew musters out of the 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry. He had enlisted in 1864 under an assumed name, Edward Sparrow.
1868 - E. G. Corprew ends his missionary work with the American Baptist Home Mission Society.
1869 - E. G. Corprew becomes moderator of the Colored Shiloh Baptist Association, Virginia's largest and most important black Baptist association.
1871 - E. G. Corprew is corresponding secretary of the Virginia Baptist State Convention.
1873 - The Zion Baptist Church, with E. G. Corprew as its pastor, boasts a thousand members in its congregation.
July 16, 1881 - E. G. Corprew dies at his Portsmouth home.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Irons, C. F. E. G. Corprew (ca. 1830–1881). (2014, July 24). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Corprew_E_G_ca_1830-1881.
- MLA Citation:
Irons, Charles F. "E. G. Corprew (ca. 1830–1881)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, 24 Jul. 2014. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: January 27, 2010 | Last modified: July 24, 2014
Contributed by Charles F. Irons, an associate professor of history at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina. He is the author of The Origins of Proslavery Christianity: White and Black Evangelicals in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia (2008).