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A Moravian Mission and the Origins of Evangelical Protestantism among Slaves in the Carolina Lowcountry

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This article investigates the German Moravian slave mission in South Carolina (1738-1740), including its role in beginning evangelical Protestantism among Lowcountry slaves. It documents responses of planters, townspeople, and especially slaves and shows how the mission was connected to the transatlantic evangelical Protestant awakening. Following Wesley’s brief encounter in 1737 and preceding Whitefield’s visit in 1740 and the subsequent slave revival in Port Royal, the Moravians offered sustained contact with the new religious style. Several slaves responded enthusiastically, including a woman named Diana of Port Royal, who played a leadership role, while others defiantly rejected their message as the religion of barbaric masters. Disease, white resistance after the Stono Rebellion, internal problems, et al. forced the mission to close, but its brief history reveals the interests, struggles, hopes, and fears of slaves, planters, and missionaries in the mid-eighteenth century and how they were connected to other Atlantic and global missions.

Affiliations: 1: Northern Illinois University


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