It is important to place the Americanization process of Moravians in North Carolina in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the context of the broader history of the Moravian mission to British North America in the mid-18th century. Two figures emerge as especially significant for understanding the ‘American Plan’ of the Moravians: Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf and August Gottlieb Spangenberg. Zinzendorf made an extensive visit to eastern Pennsylvania from late 1741 to 1743 during which time he generated a storm of controversies among both German-speaking and English-speaking settlers. He attempted to unite the German-speaking Protestants into an ecumenical fellowship, stayed for several weeks with American Indians in the village of Shamokin, preached in Lutheran and Reformed churches during the Great Awakening, and helped organize the Bethlehem congregation. Upon his return to England, Zinzendorf sent his trusted assistant, Bishop Spangenberg to take charge of the work in North America. Spangenberg organized Bethlehem as a religious commune without single family homes, directed the American Indian mission, and supervised the early Moravian settlement in North Carolina. This paper will explore the radical religious and social program of Zinzendorf and Spangenberg as an expression of their millennial hopes for the New World.
The “Golden Age” of Moravian music is generally acknowledged as being 1750-1830. The year 1830 also lines up with some definitions of “the long eighteenth century.” During this time, most Moravian music was comprised of music imported from Europe or composed by German Moravian composers based on European models; but in the early decades of the 19th century, American music was appearing in the manuscript books of students at Moravian educational institutions.
We also see the increasing influence of American music in the published sheet music collections of Salem residents. In fact, the Moravian Music Foundation holds one of about ten known copies of the first edition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The ongoing cataloging of the Salem Manuscript Books Collection may shed some light on who the students were, and when the manuscript books were copied, to show how Moravian educational institutions were opening up to American music.
Archival records are created with intent and are preserved -- or sometimes destroyed -- with a purpose. Archivists therefore question the traditional idea of the archives as an impartial collection of documents able to give the historian objective insight into the past. Although Moravians have traditionally been considered good record keepers, substantial amounts of documents were destroyed between 1760 and 1810.
When the Unity Archives was founded as the central archives for the worldwide Moravian Church in 1764, a group of specially appointed “revisers” sifted through the material and destroyed documents that did not fit the reinvented image of the Moravian Church of the post-Zinzendorf era. By controlling the content of their archives, Moravians tried to manipulate the historiography of their church. As this presentation will argue, the work of the Moravian archivist was not invisible; on the contrary, the archivist edited the surviving record.
This study aims at a deeper understanding of the voices and perspectives of African American and Indigenous Moravian converts as presented in historical documents. American Indian communities and individual American Indian converts, like their converted African American neighbors, actively engaged in and reflected upon the theological, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of Moravian missionary spirituality, which in turn developed and changed through the encounter with non-European converts.
Conceived as a cosmopolitan enterprise from its European inception as articulated by Count Zinzendorf, Leonhard Dober and others, Moravian missions to Indigenous communities began with a settlement in Greenland in 1733, in New York in 1740, in Pennsylvania in 1741, and in Labrador in 1771. In 1801, Moravians were the first Christian missionaries invited to settle in the Cherokee Nation in what is today the state of Georgia. The forced Cherokee Removal to Oklahoma in 1839 ended the Moravian missionary presence in Georgia. This chapter explores the dynamics of nearly four decades of Cherokee nationalism, an emerging US federal policy, Southern state rights, and Moravian religious, specifically missionary beliefs as Moravians encountered enslaved Black people and Cherokee communities as their new neighbors.
How did potters adapt to new ideas of personal freedom, changing racial norms, and increased industrialization after the American Revolution? In 1793, Salem’s second master potter, Rudolph Christ (1750-1833), embarked on an ambitious expansion of the congregation-owned pottery in Salem. Across the street from the original pottery workshop, Christ built a small kiln and shed on Lot 38 to fire new wares, adding faience, stoneware, and figural bottles to his stock-in-trade.
Over time, the expansion grew to include two larger kilns. These were used by Christ and later his replacement, John Frederic Holland (1821-1843), until they were torn down in 1831. This study combines archeological and historical research to better understand how Moravian potters used their craft to negotiate the complex and changing relationship between religion and economics during this transformative period.
3.1 million Africans were forcibly shipped to the British owned colonies in the Caribbean between 1662-1807 and enslaved by plantation owners. For close to 100 years, the enslaved Africans practiced their religious and cultural expressions that survived the Middle Passage, without religious judgment. While Christianity was well-established in the Caribbean by the eighteenth century, the Moravians were the first missionaries to have believed that the African “soul” was worthy of conversion. The evangelical Protestant work of the Moravians began in Antigua, an island colonized only by the British, in 1756. Thirty years later, in 1786, the Moravian mission was started in Tobago, an island that changed colonial hands thirty-three times among the Spanish, Dutch, Latvian, French and British.
The success of Moravian evangelization in the Caribbean was measured by the de-Africanizing of the Afro-Caribbean converts. However, Black people in the Caribbean have perpetually struggled to embrace an identity that reconciled the Christian faith of the European White God with their African ancestral roots. Arguably, the Moravian in Tobago has more readily embraced and incorporated more African-ness in their Christian faith and practice than the Moravian in Antigua.
Ambitious Moravian plans for Wachovia were constrained in the early years by a small population. Renting labor was a solution and brought the Brethren into direct relationship with enslaved people. A skilled cattle handler in Bethabara, “Sam” was a teenager of African descent who showed an inclination for conversion. When offered for sale by his owner, the lot approved the purchase of Sam in 1769. Thus began the Moravian role as enslaver in North Carolina. The practice of slavery in Wachovia varied. In Salem, slave ownership was limited to the church and a “spiritual fellowship” for Black Moravians was possible.
However, as generations passed, ideas changed, segregation was formalized, and the Salem landscape reflected those dynamics. This paper will explore people and place on the changing landscape of slavery in Salem during the fifty-year period, 1772-1822.
After Joseph Haydn’s oratorio Die Schöpfung (The Creation) premiered in Vienna in 1798, it quickly became popular throughout Europe. Music-loving Moravians in America, eager to perform European masterworks, particularly those by German or Austrian composers, obtained a copy of Haydn’s score not long after its initial publication in 1803. When Moravians in Bethlehem began to plan a performance of this masterwork, they needed parts for instrumentalists as singers. Since parts had not yet been published, the indefatigable Moravian pastor and musician Johann Friedrich Peter set about copying them from the score. The work was performed (though apparently not in its entirety) in Bethlehem in 1811 under the direction of David Moritz Michael. Some eighteen years later, on 4 July 1829, the Moravians of Salem, North Carolina, mounted their own performance of the work, using a second set of parts, also prepared by J. F. Peter.
Using written accounts, contemporary newspaper articles, and surviving music, my paper addresses some of the issues surrounding the Salem performance of 1829. It compares this event, the first performance of Haydn’s masterwork in the American South, with what little is known of the 1811 performance in Bethlehem. It identifies the 1829 performance as a watershed in the history of music in Salem, after which the performance of large-scale European masterworks declined significantly as more popular forms of music began to take hold in Wachovia.
This chapter traces the progression of the Single Sisters choir, paying attention to theological developments within the Moravian Church that went hand-in-hand with the church’s socio-economic experiments, to show the ideals on which Salem was founded. Then, drawing from numerous entries in the Single Sisters Diary, it demonstrates that the Single Sisters themselves moved away from earlier understandings, which celebrated the innovative autonomy and authority of single women, to seeing the choir system as a patriarchal imposition on the freedoms that should be enjoyed within the emerging American nation.