smallsrobertIn recent months I have written about the former African slave (and Baptist) Robert Smalls (1839-1915), who became famous for a daring exploit during the American Civil War, became a leading Baptist layman in the South during the Reconstruction era, and today is one of the 19th century’s largely-forgotten Baptist heroes (at least in Baptist circles at large).

Within South Carolina black Baptist life, however, Robert Smalls is experiencing a renaissance during this 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. “The Life and Times of Congressman Robert Smalls” is a part of the S.C. State Museum’s traveling exhibits program. Having traveled around the country during the past three years with visitation of more than 75,000 persons, the exhibit is now en route to Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort, South Carolina, the church were Smalls is buried. Read more about the exhibit that honors the life of this remarkable Baptist layman.

Bruce Gourley

About Bruce Gourley

Bruce Gourley is online editor. In addition to managing Baptist Today’s web presence, Bruce is the executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society (, general editor of the Baptist History & Heritage Journal, editor of the Baptist Studies Bulletin, creator and author of the "Baptists and the American Civil War Project" (, and author of seven books. Bruce is also an avid hiker, owns the Yellowstone Net website (, and is an award-winning photographer ( A graduate of Mercer University (B.A.), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Auburn University (Ph.D.), he and his family live near Bozeman, Montana.