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Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
A Separate Canaan: The Making of an Afro-Moravian World in North Carolina, 1763-1840 / Edition 1

A Separate Canaan: The Making of an Afro-Moravian World in North Carolina, 1763-1840 / Edition 1

by Jon F. Sensbach
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In colonial North Carolina, German-speaking settlers from the Moravian Church founded a religious refuge—an ideal society, they hoped, whose blueprint for daily life was the Bible and whose Chief Elder was Christ himself. As the community's demand for labor grew, the Moravian Brethren bought slaves to help operate their farms, shops, and industries. Moravians believed in the universalism of the gospel and baptized dozens of African Americans, who became full members of tightly knit Moravian congregations. For decades, white and black Brethren worked and worshiped together—though white Moravians never abandoned their belief that black slavery was ordained by God.
Based on German church documents, including dozens of rare biographies of black Moravians, A Separate Canaan is the first full-length study of contact between people of German and African descent in early America. Exploring the fluidity of race in Revolutionary era America, it highlights the struggle of African Americans to secure their fragile place in a culture unwilling to give them full human rights. In the early nineteenth century, white Moravians forsook their spiritual inclusiveness, installing blacks in a separate church. Just as white Americans throughout the new republic rejected African American equality, the Moravian story illustrates the power of slavery and race to overwhelm other ideals.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807846988
Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 03/02/1998
Series: Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press
Edition description: 1
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 666,776
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Jon F. Sensbach is assistant professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi. Previously, he worked as a public historian at Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Table of Contents


Abbreviations and Notes on Sources and the Text

Prologue. A Rapid Motion Agitating the Universe: An African Odyssey
Chapter 1. From Serfs to Slaveholders
Chapter 2. By the Drawing of Lots: Slavery and Divine Will
Chapter 3. A "Turbulent Spirit"
Chapter 4. To Drink of One Spirit
Chapter 5. Workshops of the Lord
Chapter 6. The Unseemly Kiss
Chapter 7. A Separate Canaan
Chapter 8. Transfiguration

Appendix A. Biographies of African Americans in the Moravian Records
Appendix B. Memoir of Abraham

Central Europe in the Mid-Eighteenth Century
Baptism of the Negroes
First Fruits
Maria, the Mooress from St. Thomas
Christian and Rebekka Protten
Wachovia, 1759
A View of Bethabara
North Carolina in 1766, with Detail of Wachovia
Wachovia, Late Eighteenth Century
A View of Salem in North Carolina 1787
Bethabara Gemeinhaus
Baptismal Sponsorships in Hope, 1781-1815
Baptismal Sponsorships in Wachovia, 1783-1808
Salem from the North West
Selected Baptismal Sponsorships, 1822-1834
Black Churches in Salem, circa 1862

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Remarkably researched and engagingly written. . . . Provides a richly textured view of interracial relations within the Moravian community. The text will be challenging but rewarding for undergraduates and general readers. With its abundance of documentation and exhaustive research, it is an indispensable addition to the field for graduate students and scholars of African American religion.—Religious Studies Review

A Separate Canaan tells a largely untold story: the relationship of Moravians in North Carolina to African Americans, slave and free. Sensbach carefully reconstructs the biographies of individual black Moravians, their origins, their conversions, their work patterns, and family lives. A poignant case study of religious accommodation to social and economic forces.—Albert J. Raboteau, Princeton University

A very revealing historical analysis and interpretation of one Protestant evangelical movement and the outcome of its religious vision within the emerging American context over a seventy-seven year period. . . . Very rich and resourceful and highly readable, the book is a demonstration of superb scholarship. The author is meticulous and thorough in his presentation of materials and examination of sources and historical events. He is to be lauded for the balanced picture he presents of both the Black and White societies, religion, and culture.—Journal of Religion

A beautifully written book that is a pleasure to read. Sensbach is a gifted storyteller, and as he hoped, this book offers a wrenching account of America's tragic history of race relations. . . . To read this book is to come to a deeper understanding of how blacks and whites have been both connected and separated by the Christian faith.—Journal of the Early Republic

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