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

in Journal of Early Modern History
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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.

Journal of Early Modern History

Contacts, Comparisons, Contrasts. Early Modernity Viewed from a World-Historical Perspective




Böhler and Schulius Diary, 1738. References to the name of the “High Road” come from petitions dated 14 December 1737 and 5 March 1740 to the colonial assembly in Charlestown regarding road building issues, reprinted in J.H. Easterby, ed., The Colonial Records of the South Carolina (series 1), The Journal of the Commons House of Assembly, vol. 1 and vol. 2 (Columbia, sc, 1951 and 1952), 366-367, and 235 and 238.


Böhler and Schulius Diary, 1738.


Böhler and Schulius Diary, 1738, here entries for October 23, 26, and 29 and November 3.


Schulius to unknown, 6 March 1739, Part D.


Oldendorp, History of the Mission of the Evangelical Brethren, 625-626.


Schulius to unknown, 6 March 1739.


Schulius to unknown, 1739, Part D.


Böhler to Zinzendorf, 23 January 1740, in Part C, and the following in Part D: Böhler to Anton Seiffert, 11(?) June 1739; Böhler Report, 14/25 December 1739; Böhler to Leonhard Dober, 21 January 1740.


  • Moravian slave mission area of operations in South Carolina, 1738-1740.
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