Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CAPERS, William, M. E. bishop, born in St. Thomas parish, South Carolina, 26 January, 1790 ; died in Anderson, South Carolina, 29 January, 1855. His father, who was of Huguenot descent, served with distinction in the revolutionary army as a captain under General Marion. After attending Dr. Roberts's academy in Statesburg, Sumter district, from 1801 till 1805, young Capers entered South Carolina College as a sophomore, but in 1808 he left College and began the study of law with Judge Richardson. He joined the Methodist church in August, 1808, and soon afterward, through the influence of William Gassoway, an itinerant preacher, decided to accompany him on his rounds. His scruples against preaching without preparatory study were overcome by his friend, and he was licensed on 25 November, 1808. After filling various appointments he settled on a farm in December, 1814, but continued to preach every week, and in 1816 opened a school in Georgetown, South Carolina He returned to active ministerial duties in 1818, and in 1819 was stationed at Savannah, Georgia., appointed missionary to the Creek Indians in 1821, traveled extensively among them, and superintended the mission until 1825, when he removed to Charleston, and edited there the " Wesleyan Journal" till it was merged in the New York " Christian Advocate" in 1826. He was presiding elder of the Charleston district from 1827 till 1831, and in 1828 visited England as the representative of his church at the British conference. He became in 1829 superintendent of the missions to the plantation slaves, and in November of that year declined the chair of moral philosophy in Franklin College, Georgia. He subsequently declined the presidency of three different southern Colleges, and also, in 1835, the chair of evidences of Christianity in South Carolina College. He was chosen by the general conference m May, 1836, to edit a new paper called the "Southern Christian Advocate," the first number of which was issued in June 1837. He was secretary of the southern missionary district from 1840 till 1844. 522 CAPERTON In the New York conference of 1844 he made a speech of much power and tact, supporting the southern view of the slavery question, and, in the division of the church that occurred in that year, adhered to the southern branch, which, at its first general conference in 1846, elected him a bishop. He was consecrated on 14 May, 1846, and from that time till his death performed eight successive tours of visitation through the southern and southwestern states. Dr. Capers was a graceful preacher, and sometimes rose to eloquence. His house was one of the homes of Asbury and the early Methodist preachers, he wrote an autobiography, which was published after his death, with a memoir by Rev. Dr. Wightman (Nashville, Tennessee, 1858), "Catechisms for Negro Missions," and "Short Sermons and Tales for Children."
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