Evangelical Christianity in the Lower South: The Creation of a Southern Tradition in the Early Modern Atlantic

Thomas J. Little

is Professor of History at Emory & Henry College

Cite this Article

Thomas J. Little, "Evangelical Christianity in the Lower South: The Creation of a Southern Tradition in the Early Modern Atlantic," Journal of Southern Religion (18) (2016): jsreligion.org/vol18/little.

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Evangelical Christianity is one the most remarkable creations ever put forward in southern religion; according to a recent ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll, for example, fifty-five percent of southern Christians identify themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians.1 Yet though evangelicalism has long been and continues to be the dominant religion of the American South, until the last few years historians have traditionally described it, paradoxically, as a late-flowering development in the Atlantic Protestant world. Donald Mathews described early southern evangelical revivals as evolving only after the mid-1740s. Samuel Hill stated: “If one wanted to pinpoint the salient beginning [of southern Christian evangelicalism], he would turn to the 1750s or perhaps the years just after 1800.” Similarly, Christine Heyrman wrote that “Evangelicalism came late to the American South, as an exotic import rather than an indigenous development.”2

Given the prevalence of such judgments it is not very surprising that, until quite recently, the early eighteenth-century origins of evangelical Christianity in lowcountry South Carolina—the economic and cultural center of the Lower South—remained almost completely neglected by historians. Nor is it surprising that many old historiographical conventions and assumptions about the Lower South’s religious history continued to persist in the scholarly literature. The old convention that religious revivalism had less effect in the Lower South than in any other region of mainland British America remained a commonplace in the historiography, for example.3 Similarly, while a number of key studies had appeared showing an unmistakable pattern of religious growth, rather than decline, in eighteenth-century colonial American religious life, these same studies had done little to dislodge the old stereotype about the religiosity of the lower southern colonies—that they were largely “devoid of any meaningful Christian practice.”4 Indeed most discussions of religion in the lower southern colonies traditionally described them as being among the least religious colonies in the early modern Anglophone American world, with possibly only the British West Indian colonies outdoing the lower southern colonies in their extraordinary disregard for traditional forms of Old World Christian practice. Sydney Ahlstrom’s A Religious History of the American People notices organized Christian expression in eighteenth-century colonial Georgia as “desultory and rather sad.”5

If the judgment that evangelical Christianity was a relatively late arrival in southern society had effectively sidelined the story of evangelicalism’s anterior beginnings in the lower southern colonies, traditional accounts of the American South’s colonial religious origins also tended to obscure the complexity and magnitude of the region’s prerevolutionary religious diversity, as well as the multiple ways in which the colonial southern religious experience was shaped by large-scale developments in the early modern Atlantic world. As I have noted in my study of colonial South Carolina religious life, The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism (2013), which refutes many commonplace beliefs about the Lower South’s religious history and shows that evangelical Christianity had much earlier beginnings in prerevolutionary southern society than traditionally recognized, all of these issues raise a number of important questions about the field of southern religion as it has evolved over the past thirty years.6 Here, however, I would like to focus on those questions which shed light on colonial southern religion’s place in Atlantic history—a subject that is probably best understood not as a formal field of historical study, but as a framework for understanding some of the key developments in the Atlantic basin in the early modern era.7

What does southern religion look like if we see it in the larger context of this Atlantic basin world? In what ways did it grow out of, interact with, and reflect that increasingly complex and interconnected world? How can an Atlantic perspective help us to attain new understandings of colonial southern religion? What were some of the key religious differences among settlers in the early South?  In offering some tentative answers to these questions, one obvious place to begin is by examining the rise of evangelical Christianity in the southern colonies in an Atlantic world context, with chief emphasis on the Lower South. Clearly, there was much more to colonial southern religion than evangelicalism’s origins and antecedents. No less than New England and the Middle Colonies, the Chesapeake colonies and the Lower South developed what Jon Butler has aptly described as a diverse “range of religious belief and practice,” including magic and the occult.8 Moreover, recent scholarship forces us to recognize that the “colonial South” extended well beyond the areas bounded by the British continental colonies of Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. In fact, most historians now recognize that the geographical and cultural reach of the early South extended from the English-settled regions of the Chesapeake Bay, to the Spanish borderlands of Florida, and across the Lower Mississippi Valley to as far as the Europeanized frontier zones of colonial New Mexico. When one adds to this the obvious fact that few African slaves or indigenous Americans in the vast southeastern region of North America adopted Christianity in the period before 1760, it is not surprising that many of the old principles upon which historians used to define “colonial southern religion” have increasingly been recognized as problematical.9 Even so, examining the Lower South’s evangelical beginnings in a transatlantic imperial setting can still provide a useful perspective on many aspects of colonial southern religious development, and help us to understand the creation of a southern religious tradition in the context of the prerevolutionary Atlantic world.

This becomes clearer when considering the outlook that has traditionally informed the study and understanding of colonial southern revivalism. Again, one of the core beliefs in the study of colonial southern religious history is that, in contrast to New England and the Middle Colonies, “Religious awakening came later to the colonial South, starting in the mid-1740s with Presbyterian itinerants and reaching full pitch in the 1760s and 1770 with the Baptist and Methodist revivals.”10 Why this commonplace belief sprang up in the literature is a small mystery.11 However, what seems to explain the striking sameness in traditional discussions about the rise of evangelicalism in the early South is the assumption that religious developments in the colony of Virginia—which almost always figures prominently in accounts of the American South’s religious origins—exemplified religious developments elsewhere in southern society. Indeed it is probably no exaggeration to say that much of the scholarship on religion in the colonial South has been shaped by an assumption that Virginia was representative of the entire southern colonial region, Upper South and Lower South alike.

This is certainly the case in the study of the origins and evolution of southern revivalism. At least since the subject of southern religion was first “discovered” in the 1960s and 1970s, most writers have followed the lead of historian Wesley M. Gewehr in describing the rise of evangelical Christianity in the early South, helping to explain why they have continually emphasized the extent to which Protestant evangelicalism came late to the region. In his important early study of southern revivalism, The Great Awakening in Virginia (1930), Gewehr traced evangelical ascendancy in colonial Virginia through three discrete phases of growth in the decades immediately preceding the American Revolution. First, there was a “militant Presbyterian” phase, which began in Hanover County in eastern Virginia and was brought to maturity after 1748 by New Side minister Samuel Davies. Second, there was “an even more popular and extravagant phase,” that of the Separate Baptists, an evangelical group from New England who established themselves at Sandy Creek, North Carolina, in 1755 and quickly began to spread new, more powerful forms of revivalism throughout the southern backcountry. After a particularly fraught period of opposition in the Old Dominion, the Separate Baptist movement eventually took hold in the eastern and central parts of Virginia by about 1770. Finally, there was “the great Methodist awakening,” the last phase of the Upper South’s prerevolutionary evangelical revivals. This final phase, commencing in 1772 when Wesleyan itinerants began preaching in tidewater Virginia, continued down to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, as did the contentious and belated Separate Baptist phase.12

Recent scholarship has consistently shown that Gewehr’s three-phase model of late colonial evangelical Christian development is still largely appropriate for Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay region more generally.13 In the pluralistic colonies of the Lower South, on the other hand, another, earlier pattern of revivalism and evangelicalism emerged in the prerevolutionary era, one that is significantly different than the old Gewehrian formulation that historians are prepared to find. As already noted, the main goal of this essay is to call attention to this earlier Lower South pattern, which has been obscured in the historiography by a scholarly preoccupation with the Chesapeake colony, and to examine evangelical Christianity’s earliest beginnings in lowcountry Carolina in the larger context of the prerevolutionary Atlantic world. First, I examine the religious dimensions of the Lower South’s early settlement history within a transoceanic imperial framework, focusing attention on how the peopling of the South Carolina seacoast gave rise to a strong tradition of pluralistic Christian expression. Second, I discuss the revivification of the Church of England, a quintessentially Atlantic story that radically altered and reshaped the Lower South’s religious history. Finally, I describe attempts at religious renewal in the Lower South in the 1710s, 1720s, and 1730s, approaching these efforts in the larger framework of an increasingly interconnected and integrated world that facilitated an international Protestant awakening in the eighteenth century.

In contrast to older perspectives, thinking in Atlantic terms makes it more possible than ever before to appreciate how evangelical Christianity in the Lower South grew out of the region’s dynamic late seventeenth-century religious background, because this background not only reflected the diversity of early modern spiritual life but also prefaced many later developments in southern religion. Significantly, most of South Carolina’s earliest European settlers were Protestant dissenters, and most South Carolina Anglicans developed deep-lying reforming Protestant convictions, with many being “actually Joyned and linked with the Dissenters.”14 In 1700, when the colony’s white population numbered around 3,250, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, French Huguenots, Baptists, and Quakers counted over ten times as many congregations as Anglicans.15 At the same time South Carolina Anglicans were pressing their ministers “to baptize their Children without Godfathers and God Mothers and the Sign of the Cross,” demanding that they preach and pray extemporaneously, and, worse, asking them, “What has the [bishop of London]...to do with us?” In fact, Anglican missionaries in lowcountry South Carolina frequently wrote about the reforming temperament of their eclectic-minded parishioners, telling London officials of the ease with which “half faced Churchmen” moved “between the Church and Presbytery.” These same writers also spoke about their parishioners’ unparalleled (mis)use of the holy sacraments and dilated at length on the “large and loose principles” informing such behavior, not to mention the “ill usage” they sometimes met with from the colonists, especially the Protestant reformers and fanatics—the “Libertines, Sectaries, and Enthusiasts of all sorts.”16

During the seventeenth century a heterogeneous mixture of Protestant dissenters flooded into lowcountry South Carolina, helping to give distinctive shape to the evolution of a unique New World society in the Atlantic basin—one that eventually came to encompass the entire region stretching from the Cape Fear River valley in southern North Carolina to the Altamaha River area in southern Georgia. Very early, the Carolina proprietors sought to recruit nonconformists to their colony by granting freedom of religion and liberty of individual conscience, a policy that was later codified in the Fundamental Constitutions (1669) and encouraged a large number of pioneer settlers to immigrate. Virtually all had economic as well as religious reasons for coming, of course, and from one perspective there are certainly some grounds to suggest, as many historians have done, that the prospect of material gain was a far more important factor than religion in attracting these Atlantic world colonists.17 Nevertheless it remains true that hundreds of early immigrants moved to lowcountry Carolina in search of religious freedom. In 1697, for example, a South Carolina law stated that “several of the present Inhabitants of this Country [i.e. a great many] did transport themselves into this Province in hopes of enjoying the Liberty of their Consciences according to their own Persuasions, which the Royal King Charles the Second...was pleased to impower the Lords Proprietors…to grant to the Inhabitants of this Province, for to encourage the settlement of the same.”18 Similarly, when Anglicans sought to secure legal establishment for their church in 1704, Carolina dissenters protested to the House of Lords on the grounds that after the restoration of Charles II “and the re-establishment of the Church of England by the Act of Uniformity, many of the subjects of this kingdom, who were so un-happy as to have some scruples about conforming to the rites of the said church, did transplant themselves and families into the...colony, by means whereof the greatest part of the inhabitants...were Protestant dissenters from the Church of England.”19

No less than many of their counterparts in other regions of the rapidly expanding post-1660 Anglophone Atlantic world, early Carolinians were an extremely “factious and Seditious people.”20 Throughout much of the seventeenth century a Church of England faction known as the Goose Greek Men, comprising mostly immigrants from Barbados and some “high church” English Episcopalians, engaged in a bitter contest for control of the colony’s government with a dissenting faction, which included several dissident Anglicans who were generally sympathetic to nonconformists and who, like their dissenting allies, tended to support the Old World proprietary regime. In 1694, after a protracted struggle which involved an open challenge to proprietary authority, a declaration of martial law, and the overthrow of a governor (James Colleton), a spirit of compromise prevailed. In the last years of the century, with dissenters securely in control South Carolina entered into a period of peace and prosperity.21 The colony’s new staple-crop economy grew; Anglicans and dissenters cooperated to establish an Anglican ministry in Charleston; and, as one Carolina dissenter put it, “all the inhabitants...lived in great peace.”22

It was in the middle and late 1690s that a substantial number of New England settlers began to arrive in the lowcountry. Along with earlier emigrants from the region, they swelled early Carolina’s already sizable non-Anglican population, perhaps by no fewer than 500 people. Adding considerable strength to the Lower South colony’s background of Protestant nonconformity and sectarian dissent, these new Atlantic world migrations forwarded an “infant Reformation” begun in 1670, when South Carolina’s earliest Protestant comers struggled to countenance “the Arke of God.”23 Perhaps most important, they gave rise to episodes of both individual and collective spiritual excitement as a variety of dissenting ministers embarked on an energetic program of experiential conversion work. Yet also important, they helped set the stage for the advance toward later Protestant Atlantic awakenings as well as a much more forceful confrontation in the political arena over the legal establishment of the Church of England.

In advance of that confrontation and the great rise of Anglican worship in the lowcountry between 1710 and 1730, colonial South Carolina developed a strong tradition of pluralistic Christian expression; this tradition would remain of special importance in lowcountry society throughout the colonial period, and help to underwrite multiple attempts at religious reform. By 1690 proprietary recruiting efforts in Europe and America had turned up hundreds of colonists, including large numbers of Protestant dissenters. At least 500 English nonconformists arrived in the colony in the early and mid-1680s, in addition to about 150 Scottish Covenanters. The former were largely Presbyterians and Congregationalists, but there were significant numbers of Baptists and other sectarians among this wave of English Old World immigrants as well. They were joined by about 500 French Protestants who were fleeing persecution in Catholic France, settlers who added a rich international flavor to early Carolina’s cosmopolitan spiritual milieu.   Dissenting Protestants from some of the older maritime colonies in the English Atlantic immigrated to Carolina in the 1680s, too. Quakers arrived from Barbados and elsewhere, for example, while a significant number of Baptist families removed from Kittery, Maine, after their minister, William Screven, was forbidden from keeping “any private exercise at his house or elsewhere.” The Kittery Baptists were followed by scores of New England Congregationalists who immigrated to the lowcountry in the 1690s, the newcomers settling in Charleston and at Wappetaw, Cainhoy, and Dorchester. One of the earliest substantial groups arrived in 1691 with Benjamin Pierpont. A native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, Pierpont played a key role in early Carolina’s spiritual life as pastor of the Independent Meeting House in Charleston.24

Together with a few other nonconformist religious groups who immigrated to early Carolina, these transatlantic migrations radically transformed the dynamics and character of lowcountry religion. Organized Christianity became overwhelmingly dissenting for almost two generations, and it remained permanently and substantially so thereafter. Also, these early population movements served simultaneously to increase Christian activity in the infant New World colony and to draw South Carolina more closely into the Atlantic Protestant world. Formed congregations appeared everywhere in and around Charleston in the lowcountry, public preaching increased dramatically, and church building proceeded at a prolific pace, thoroughly sacralizing the Europeanized colonial landscape. In the two decades prior to 1701, eleven permanent churches were built in South Carolina: Congregationalists and Presbyterians built four churches, Huguenots built four churches, and Anglicans, Baptists, and Quakers each built one church, all of which were destined to play an important role in South Carolina religious history. Though data relative to the size of these churches’ congregations are limited, early Carolina developed an astonishing per capita church ratio, with roughly one church building for every 500 inhabitants.25

As the population surged and as reform and sectarian Christianity grew, the number of resident clergymen in Carolina rose substantially. Not counting Quakers, who rejected a formal, “hireling” ministry, at least sixteen nonconforming ministers are known to have settled in the colony by 1701; likewise, five or six Anglican ministers are known to have arrived, one of whom, a Flemish Walloon who had converted to Anglicanism, was appointed to preach among the Carolina Huguenots.26 Relations among these ministers and between ministers and laity were often conflicted, and religious competition was oftentimes intense, with each group vigorously competing for religious attention. On one occasion in 1699, for example, Congregationalist minister John Cotton, Jr., second son and namesake of the famous Massachusetts divine, battled with an Anglican minister for the allegiance of “a Jew professing Christ.” Although the rival Anglican clergyman was “tampering with him to get him to accept the signe of the cross,” Cotton reported to his New England correspondents that “the Jew is come to me...lively in his good motions [to be baptized].”27 Carolina Baptists gave nothing away to lowcountry Anglicans in their efforts to win converts, however, and Cotton, who himself was well-known for his leadership in New England covenant revivals, was far more concerned about his Baptist than his Anglican competitors, especially William Screven and another Baptist minister named Gilbert Ashley. Equally aggressive and opportunistic, both Ashley and Screven endeavored to make the Carolina lowcountry a major Baptist stronghold in the Atlantic Protestant world, and both were extraordinarily successful as proselytizers—perhaps in part because their efforts to promote spiritual reform and radical enthusiasm oftentimes extended across boundaries traditionally drawn by male privilege. After returning from a trip to New England, for example, Joseph Lord, another Harvard-trained churchman who settled in lowcountry Carolina, wrote the governor of Massachusetts in early 1700 about how Screven had prevailed upon some female members of his congregation to “lead captive silly women” by visiting them in their houses and preaching up the radical Baptist doctrine of a new birth. In his letter, Lord noted how Screven had taken advantage of his absence “to endeavor to make proselytes...by employing some of his most officious and trusty adherents to gain upon such [women] as they had interest in, and thereby to set an example to others that are too apt to be led by anything that is new.” While Screven and his female associates had already appointed a day for receiving two of these lowcountry women into their church “by plunging,” Lord wrote that “Mr. Cotton’s and my coming has a little obstructed them: one woman being recovered and convinced of the error of that way.”28

As these and other early correspondences make clear, South Carolina colonists maintained close connections to an Atlantic Protestant network that spanned great distances, which not only exposed them to events in the wider world but also drew them nearer to ecclesiastical developments abroad—in New England, the British Isles, as well as Germany, Switzerland, and France. Furthermore, just as these early records reveal that lowcountry South Carolina was a place of intense competition between Anglicans, Congregationalists, Baptists, and other sects, so they provide significant evidence showing that such spirited, colony-wide competition, along with the colony’s transatlantic links, helped to catalyze the effort to secure legal establishment for the Church of England.

In the years immediately before the enactment of the colony’s establishment bill of 1704, a number of ardent Anglican churchmen on both sides of the Atlantic grew increasingly concerned about the Church of England’s fortunes in the lowcountry, and this was especially true for a group of influential settlers who coalesced into a South Carolina political faction known as the “Church party.” Among the leaders of this group were men like Sir Nathaniel Johnson, James Moore, Thomas Broughton, Nicholas Trott, and William Rhett. Implacably hostile to dissenters, such men were deeply troubled by the fact that there was “as yet but one church in the province.” Equally troubling was the fact that there was only one Anglican minster outside of Charleston, where competition for religious allegiance was becoming ever more intense.29 In the winter of 1699–1700, for example, Sir Nathaniel Johnson’s eldest daughter, Anne, wife of Major Thomas Broughton, “was almost prevailed upon to be rebaptized.” Moreover, in 1703 Chief Justice Nicholas Trott reported that the colony was “very Much infested, with a Sect of Anabaptists.” Asking the bishop of Canterbury for books and pamphlets to combat the aggressive sect, Trott claimed that scores of Carolina colonists were “wavering, as to the point of Infant Baptism.”30

An early member of the London-based Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), Trott stood at the forefront of the transatlantic imperial campaign to establish the Church of England as South Carolina’s official state church, along with Sir Nathaniel Johnson and his wealthy son-in-law, Thomas Broughton. Like other leaders in the Church party faction, these men saw colony-wide legal establishment as a means both of revivifying their “poor infant Church” and, at the very same time, of upending dissenting and Protestant evangelical growth.31 Yet there was virtually no way that the Anglican party leaders could effect legal establishment for their church in the South Carolina legislature. Although Sir Nathaniel Johnson was appointed governor of the colony in 1702, South Carolina’s powerful “dissenters Faction” controlled the assembly, and as Trott reported to the SPG, “it is vain to propose to them an Act for the Propagation of the Gospel, which would be received by them with Scorne and Contempt, for they never were in the Assembly but they always opposed every thing that was good.” Samuel Thomas, the first SPG missionary to arrive in the Lower South colony, echoed similar sentiments, writing London officials that there were “so many Dissenters in the Province” that it would be “a work of no small difficulty to get an Act to pass in favour of the Church of England clergy.”32

Samuel Thomas’s coming ultimately forced the South Carolina establishment issue to come to a head. When in February 1703 the Anglican party introduced a bill into the Commons House of Assembly providing for Church of England maintenance, “a great part of the assembly withdrew when they were to give supplies.” Immediately thereafter, Church party leaders started a series of bloody riots against dissenters that continued unabated for a period of “four or five days.”33 Then, after wrangling with dissenters both in and out of the Commons House for the next fourteen months, Governor Johnson finally called a special session of the legislature in April 1704; and before all the delegates arrived a bare-bones assembly, narrowly dominated by Johnson’s supporters, passed by a vote of twelve to eleven a bill requiring all members of the Carolina assembly to conform to the Church of England. With the Anglican faction thus in control, the assembly then proceeded to pass the Church Act of 1704, which along with the Exclusion Bill, prompted Carolina dissenters to seek redress from the Lords Proprietors and the British Parliament.34

The case of the Carolina dissenters attracted widespread attention in Europe and America. Over the objections of the senior proprietor, John Granville, 1st Baron Granville and a fanatical High Church Anglican, the dissenters presented a detailed petition to the House of Lords, backed by a group of powerful nonconforming English merchants in the City of London. At the same time the great Presbyterian novelist Daniel Defoe published two influential pamphlets in support of their cause: Party-Tyranny; Or, An Occasional Bill in Miniature (1705) and The Case of the Protestant Dissenters in Carolina (1706). Early in 1706, the House of Lords unanimously ruled in favor of the dissenters’ petition, asking Queen Anne to deliver the colony “from the arbitrary oppression under which it lies.” While the queen promptly ordered Lord Granville to disallow both of the 1704 statutes, the Carolina assembly quickly passed another Church Act in late 1706.35 Among other things, this second Church Act, which was modeled on the earlier measure, effectively checked the growth of dissenting Protestantism in the Atlantic littoral region of lowcountry Carolina. Indeed by the mid-1720s much more equal numbers of provincial European settlers were attending Anglican and dissenting churches than had been the case when the eighteenth century began, in good part because the Church Act of 1706 incorporated two French Huguenot settlements in Berkeley and Craven counties into the parishes of St. Dennis and St. James Santee.36

Interior Pulpit, Pompion Hill Chapel

Figure 1

In fact, no sooner had the Church of England been established in South Carolina law than the colony’s state church began functioning as a major vehicle through which many lowcountry settlers worshiped institutional Christianity. By 1711, the number of Anglican churches in lowcountry South Carolina increased by a factor of ten, and over the next twenty years (1712–1731) it nearly doubled, reaching nineteen. Also, whereas dissenting churches outnumbered Anglican churches by ten to one in 1701, exactly one half of the colony’s thirty-eight churches in 1731 were Anglican churches.37 This remarkable growth was reinforced by the arrival of scores of Anglican clergymen, most of whom were sent by the SPG. In the twenty-five years following 1706, some forty-two Anglican ministers made their way to the Carolina colony, approximately six times as many as before, and all but thirteen (or 69 percent) were SPG clergy.38 Finally, an official Church of England census conducted in 1724—representing a major attempt at information-gathering in the early modern overseas Anglophone Atlantic world—indicates that at least one half of all South Carolina white adults in seven of the nine parishes for which ministerial reports were received attended Anglican services on a regular basis. In the parishes of Christ Church and St. John’s in Berkeley County, the two exceptions, relatively large audiences still participated in Sabbath services at state churches on any given Sunday, even though sizable numbers of parish residents were dissenters. Overall, South Carolina ministers reported that there were some 1,223 regular Anglican churchgoers in 1724, almost two-thirds (or 63 percent) of would-be adherents to the Church of England, representing about thirty-six percent of the European population in the nine-parish survey region.39

Although Anglican missionaries could report that a substantial plurality of South Carolina whites were worshipping in state-supported churches in 1724, most colonial leaders recognized, as the Carolina assembly did the very same year, that Protestant dissenters nevertheless formed the “great part of ye Body of [the] province.”40 This very fact predisposed many Anglican laypeople towards nonconformity in virtually every major area of church life—in doctrine, in church government, in ritual, and in ceremonies—and resulted in the creation of a remarkably pluralistic, if not radically Protestant, state church. In a 1710 letter, Commissary Gideon Johnston, the bishop of London’s agent in South Carolina during the years from 1708 to 1716, wrote the SPG about the “true State of Religion” among the colony’s Anglicans, complaining that there had never before been “a People so wretchedly Cripled concerning the use of the Sacraments, and between the Church & Conventicles, as they are generally here, for they have gotten such Strange Notions & Whims in their heads about these things, and have fallen into such a Comprehensive and Latitudinarian way, that it is the hardest thing in the World to perswade ‘em out of it.”41 Similarly, the minister of St. James Goose Creek Parish, Francis Le Jau, an SPG missionary with whom Gideon Johnston worked closely during his tenure as South Carolina commissary, observed that “in some parishes where the people have been used to receive the communion in their seats (a custom people introduced for...such as are inclined to Presbytery…) it is not an easy matter to bring them to the Lord’s Table decently upon their knees.”42

The problem of lay Anglican conformity in South Carolina’s established state church continued down to the American Revolution. Oftentimes, when establishment clergymen refused to gratify people’s demands to practice “after the dissenting manner,” the laity would simply “forsake” their ministers and “run out of the church.”43 Many of the colony’s Church of England missionaries thus found themselves in a dilemma—remaining loyal to Anglican forms and alienating their parishioners or “betraying and giving up the best of [their] Churches to Calvin and Knoxes schemes, contrary to their most solemn vows & subscription.”44

Just after Commissary Johnston penned his letter to the SPG, for example, French refugee Huguenots in the parishes of St. James Santee and St. Dennis “entreated” their ministers to abandon the ceremonial and liturgical requirements of the Book of Common Prayer and to conduct Huguenot worship services in accordance with “ye Geneva Way,” precipitating a wholesale departure from Anglican practice. Commissary Johnston made repeated attempts to suppress such heterodoxy, even threatening to suspend two Church of England clergymen, both of whom were former Huguenots, for the “promiscuous liberty” they took in gratifying their parishioners’ desires. When one, the Reverend John La Pierre, bowed to the ecclesiastical pressure and tried to reimpose Anglican worship among the people at St. Dennis, he provoked an open revolt. Several Huguenots opted out of his congregation and formed a popular religious movement. According to La Pierre, the dissidents melded Antinomian and Sabbatarian principles with the visionary rhetoric of London’s notorious “French Prophets.” These exiles from France’s Camisard war of 1702–1710 claimed direct revelation from God, spoke in tongues, and prophesied the Second Coming of Christ.45

Led by a respected church elder, “Maître Bochet,” the St. Dennis revolt marked a fervent attempt to revitalize French refugee religious life in the tradition of Huguenot rebels in the Cévennes region of southeastern France.46 Not only does it underscore the tenuous position of the colony’s state-supported ecclesiastical system, it also strongly suggests that the orthodox Christian forms were failing to meet the spiritual needs of the Carolina laity. In striking out of their parish church, the St. Dennis rebels did not simply travel down the Geneva way. Instead, they turned to innovation—to creative experimentation and spiritualism—drawing inspiration from the transatlantic model of “the French Prophets who made such an uproar in London” and boldly proclaiming that the “Scripture of both Testaments are but a dead letter.”47 Commissary Johnston condemned the radical excess of the rebels and blamed their “disobedience” on the colony’s Anglican-ordained French clergy, particularly John La Pierre and Philippe de Richebourg, the Huguenot rector of St. James Santee Parish. In 1714 Johnston reported to the bishop of London that La Pierre’s and de Richebourg’s “hearts are not with us, but at Geneva or Elsewhere.” Moreover, in assessing the revolt Johnston concluded that “many of those I call Churchmen, can scarce tell what they are themselves, if they were put to the Test, being but a Mugrel Race, & Churchmen because the Church is uppermost, &…of the sort of Churchmen…[as] indeed all our enemies more or less consist.”48

Decisive in bringing an end to the St. Dennis revolt was a bizarre episode known as the “Dutartre affair” (ca. 1722–1724), in which a small group of refugee Huguenots, convinced that the apocalypse was approaching and that they alone “had the true Knowledge and Worship of God amongst them,” shot and killed a local militia captain named Peter Simmons in a tragic and “very uncommon” accident.49 Significantly, when the pastor of St. Philip’s Church in Charleston, Alexander Garden, visited the perpetrators in jail and tried to “reason with them…to convince them of the Errors and Wickedness they were guilty of,” they treated him “with great Disdain,” and told him that “They had the Spirit of God speaking inwardly to their Souls…[and] feared not what Man could do unto them.”50

Neither the St. Dennis revolt nor the Dutatre affair was an isolated event, nor were these episodes geographically limited to the Lower South. On both sides of the Atlantic there were divisive church conflicts and innovative efforts at religious renewal and reform, and outbreaks of visionary “enthusiasm” analogous to the Dutartre case, all of which, taken together, vividly testify to the emergence of an international Protestant awakening in Europe and America in the eighteenth century, one that embraced a more emotional, individualistic approach to religion and in the main came to center on a theological principle that Alexander Garden recognized as “the Doctrine of the Indwelling of the Spirit.”51

In the colonial British-Atlantic region of the Lower South, this historical process, spurred by new waves of European immigration into South Carolina and Georgia in the 1730s, found expression much earlier than it did in the Chesapeake Bay colony of Virginia. In contrast to the Chesapeake Bay colonies, colonial Lower South colony revivalism began with Congregationalist and Baptist activity in the late 1690s and continued with Huguenot protests against Anglican conformity in the mid-1710s, with Presbyterian revivalism in the 1720s, and with Baptist and German proselytizing efforts in the 1730s. As in Britain, Ireland, and the Middle Colonies, a disputatious subscription controversy over adoption of the Westminster Confession erupted in the Presbytery of Charleston in the 1720s and 1730s. This dispute, linked to the strongly influential Salters’ Hall debates in London in 1719, arose in response to nonsubscribers’ claim for “a Liberty in people to judge [Scripture] for themselves” and prompted major public discussion of such issues as ecclesiastical authority, ministerial qualifications, and, perhaps most important, spiritual rebirth.52 Simultaneously, evangelical enterprise among English Calvinist Baptists and German-speaking Pietists spurred outbreaks of revival activity at Ashley River, Orangeburg, and elsewhere. Along with similar efforts taking root among other communions, these subsequently climaxed during George Whitefield’s famous preaching tour of the American colonies between 1739 and 1741, resulting in what John Tobler, leader of a group of Swiss settlers at New Windsor, east of Augusta, described as “a great awakening in an area around 1,400 miles wide.”53

Attending to these developments in their Atlantic context—as part of “the international history of the eighteenth century,” in Perry Miller’s phrase—can help put evangelical Christianity’s emergence in the colonial South into clearer, less anachronistic focus. Also, by highlighting larger contexts and focusing attention on the similarities and comparative contrasts across and within the early modern overseas Protestant world, taking an Atlantic perspective encourages reevaluation of many old historiographical conventions and assumptions about the eighteenth-century colonial South’s religious experience. For example, the old assumption that the colonial lower southern colonies grew increasingly lethargic and indifferent to religion is challenged by evidence of continually rising rather than falling rates of church membership and adherence. By the time of the American Revolution, South Carolina and New Hampshire tied for the highest rate of church membership among European colonists in British North America. Finally, focusing on the Atlantic fosters greater appreciation of what Perry Miller called the “curiously double aspect” of eighteenth-century evangelical Christian revivalism, that is, the way in which it was created from European religious models in each particular region of British America’s “indigenous civilization.”54


*Figure 1: Interior-Pulpit, Pompion Hill Chapel, St. Thomas’s Parish; courtesy of the National Register of Historic Places Program, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, http://www.nationalregister.sc.gov/berkeley/S10817708017/pages/S1081770801708.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

 

1 Gary Langer, “Poll: Most Americans Say They’re Christian,” ABC News, July 18, 2014, http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90356&page=1&singlePage=true (accessed March 13, 2015).

2 Donald G. Mathews, Religion in the Old South (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), 10–38; Samuel S. Hill, Jr., “A Survey of Southern Religious History,” in Hill, ed., Religion in the Southern States: A Historical Study (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1983), 383; Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross: The Beginning of the Bible Belt (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 9. It is important to note that Mathews wrote Religion in the Old South “not as the last word on southern religion, but the first word, an invitation to further discussion of the character, functions, and significance of religion in shaping and defining the South as a distinct part of the new American nation” (xiii–xiv).

3  Jack P. Greene, Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 149.

4 Nicolas M. Beasley, Christian Ritual and the Creation of British Slave Societies, 1650–1780 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009), 13. Beasley’s book is one of an increasing number of studies showing that colonial Lower South colony Anglicans sustained a broader and more vibrant Anglican church life than generally has been assumed. See also Louis P. Nelson, The Beauty of Holiness: Anglicanism and Architecture in Colonial South Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008) and Samuel C. Smith, A Cautious Enthusiasm: Mystical Piety and Evangelicalism in Colonial South Carolina (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2013).

5 Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972), 227, quoted in Encyclopedia of Religion in the South, ed. by Samuel S. Hill and Charles H. Lippy; consulting ed., Charles Reagan Wilson, 2nd edition (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2005), s.v., “Savannah, Georgia.”

6 Thomas J. Little, The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism: Religious Revivalism in the South Carolina Lowcountry, 1670–1760 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2013), ix-xiv. For an survey of recent work on religion in the early South that speaks to some of the ways in which the field of southern religious history has developed, see Jon F. Sensbach, “Religion in the Early South in an Age of Atlantic Empire,” Journal of Southern History 73 (August 2007): 631–642. See also John B. Boles, “The Discovery of Southern Religious History,” in Boles and Evelyn Thomas Nolen, eds., Interpreting Southern History: Historiographical Essays in Honor of Stanford W. Higginbothan (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987), 510–548; and Sensbach, “Before the Bible Belt: Indians, Africans, and the New Synthesis of Eighteenth-Century Southern Religious History,” in Beth Barton Schweiger and Donald G. Mathews, eds., Religion in the American South: Protestants and Others in History and Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 5–29.

7 Philip D. Morgan and Jack P. Greene, “Introduction: The Present State of Atlantic History,” in Morgan and Greene, eds., Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 3–10. See also Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History: Concept and Contours (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2005); D.W. Meinig, The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, vol. 1: Atlantic America 1492–1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986).

8 Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990), 67.

9 Sensbach, “Before the Bible Belt,” 5–29.

10Patricia U. Bonomi, Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 125.

11 George Whitefield’s visits to the lower southern colonies have been widely known to students of early American religion for many decades.  Besides, as early as the nineteenth century, a number of church historians began documenting significant evangelical practice and activity in the Lower South dating from the 1720s and 1730s.  Whatever else might be said about these historians’ works, almost all of which were written in the old filiopietistic tradition of southern religious history, they were not only known to but also commonly cited by modern historical writers who focused on the South’s religious origins.  The questions that Jon Butler raised over the meaning and significance of the eighteenth-century Great Awakening do not seem to have inhibited modern historical study of the lower southern colonies’ early evangelical past, either.  What appears to be the main reason explaining why historians have traditionally described evangelical ascendancy in the early South as an exotic, late-flowering development is the traditional historiographical focus on the Northeast and, as I illustrate here, the Chesapeake orientation of colonial southern religious history.

12 Wesley M. Gewehr, The Great Awakening in Virginia, 1740–1790 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1930), 40-166 (quotations on pp. 40, 106, 143).

13 For example, see Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740–1790 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 141–269; Heyrman, Southern Cross, 9–22. See also Janet Moore Lindman, Bodies of Belief: Baptist Communities in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

14 Gideon Johnston to bishop of Sarum, September 20, 1708, in Frank J. Kingberg, Carolina Chronicle: The Papers of Commissary Gideon Johnston, 1707–1716 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1946), 28.

15 Frederick Lewis Weis, The Colonial Clergy and the Colonial Churches of the Middle and Southern Colonies, 1607–1776 (Lancaster, Mass.: Society of the Descendants of the Colonial Clergy, 1938), 31, 36, 45, 51, 72, 100, 102 and passim; Steven B. Weeks, Southern Quakers and Slavery: A Study in Institutional History (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1896), 336; U.S. Bureau of Census, Department of Commerce, Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, 2 vols. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975), 2:1168 (Ser. Z 15–17, compiled by Stella H. Sutherland). The term “congregation” is equated here with the word “church.” Compare Marcus Jernegan’s use of the word “church” in Charles O. Paullin, Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, ed. John Wright (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington and the American Geographical Society of New York, 1932), 49–50, plate 82.

16 Gideon Johnston to bishop of Sarum, September 8, 1708, in Klingberg, Carolina Chronicle, 19, 21–22, 27–28.  Gideon Johnston was the bishop of London’s agent in South Carolina from 1708 to 1716.  The bishop of London had ecclesiastical jurisdiction over England’s colonies in America.

17 Peter A. Coclanis, The Shadow of a Dream: Economic Life and Death in the South Carolina Low Country, 1670–1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 202, note 41.

18 “An Act for the making of Aliens Free of this Part of this Province, and for granting Liberty of Conscience to all Protestants,” March 10, 1697, in Nicholas Trott, The laws of the British plantations in America, relating to the church and the clergy, religion, and learning (London: B. Cowse, 1721), 74; Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “several.”

19 Petition of Joseph Boone, in Leo Francis Stock, ed., Proceedings and Debates of the British Parliaments Respecting North America, 1542–1754, 5 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington), 3:116

20 Gideon Johnston to bishop of Sarum, September 8, 1708, in Klingberg, Carolina Chronicle, 22.

21 M. Eugene Sirmans, Colonial South Carolina: A Political History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966), 17–74.

22 Petition of Joseph Boone, in Stock, ed., Proceedings and Debates, 3:116.

23 Council to Proprietors, September 9, 1670 and March 4, 1671, The Shaftesbury Papers and Other Records Relating to Carolina and the First Settlement on Ashley River Prior to the Year 1676, ed. Langdon Cheves, Collections of the South Carolina Historical Society, 5 (1897), 180, 276.

24 David Duncan Wallace, The History of South Carolina, 4 vols. (New York: American Historical Association, 1934), 1: 95–96; Erskine Clarke, Our Southern Zion: A History of Calvinism in the South Carolina Low Country, 1690–1990 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1996), 30–32; L. H. Roper, Conceiving Carolina: Proprietors, Planters, and Plots (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2004), 72 and passim; George Pratt Insh, Scottish Colonial Schemes 1620–1686 (Glasgow: Maclehouse, Jackson, and Co., 1922), chapter 6; Bertrand Van Ruymbeke, From New Babylon to Eden: The Huguenots and Their Migration to Colonial South Carolina (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2006), 71–96; Jo Anne McCormick, “The Quakers of Colonial South Carolina, 1670–1806,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of South Carolina, 1984), 20–30; Leah Townsend, South Carolina Baptists, 1670-1805 (1935; rpt. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978), 4–10; Daughters of the American Colonists, Early Maine Records, 4 vols. (n.p.: Sir William Phips Chapter, 1934–1942), 4:261; (quotation); George Howe, History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina, 2 vols. (Columbia, S.C.: Duffie & Chapman, 1870), 1:116–124, 185–186; John Langdon Sibley, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Vol. 3, the Classes of 1678–1689 (1873; rpt, Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2010), 429.

25 Weis, The Colonial Clergy and the Colonial Churches of the Middle and Southern Colonies, 31, 36, 45, 51, 72, 100, 102, and passim; Weeks, Southern Quakers and Slavery, 336. U.S. Bureau of Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, 2:1168. The per capita church ratio assumes a total population in 1701 of 5,700, with roughly 3,300 whites and 2,400 blacks. Since all but a few African Americans worshiped apart from these mostly white churches, a trend that was not reversed until after 1750, the per capita ratio was likely closer to 1 to 275. Church adherents to population figures for the British mainland colonies during the period 1700 to 1780 are given in Patricia U. Bonomi and Peter R. Eisenstadt, “Church Adherence in the Eighteenth-Century British American Colonies,” William & Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 39 (April 1982): 24.

26 Weis, The Colonial Clergy and the Colonial Churches of the Middle and Southern Colonies31, 36, 45, 51, 72, 100, 102; Howe, History of the Presbyterian Church, 1:70, 76–77, 79, 84, 86, 117, 122; “Extract of a Letter from Hugh Adams dated at Charletoun [sic] in Carolina Feb. 23, 1699/1700,” printed in the Diary of Samuel Sewall, Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 5th ser., 6 (1879), 11. The sixteen nonconformist ministers include: Gilbert Ashley and William Screven (Baptist); Benjamin Pierpont, John Cotton, Hugh Adams, and Joseph Lord (Congregationalist); Étienne Duscout, Florente Phillippe Trouillard, Elias Prioleau, Pierre Robert, and Paul L'Escot (Huguenot); and Thomas Barret, Francis Makemie, Daniel Courtis, William Dunlop, and Archibald Stobo (Presbyterian). The Anglican ministers include: William Corbin, Edward Marston, Samuel Marshall, Phineas Rogers, Laurentius Van den Bosch, and Atkin Williamson.

27 John Cotton to Rowland Cotton, August 8, 1699, in Sheila McIntyre and Len Travers, eds., The Correspondence of John Cotton, Jr. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009), 594.

28 Joseph Lord to Thomas Hinckley, February 21, 1699, in “The Hinckley Papers,” Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 4th ser., 5 (1861), 305.

29 Sirmans, Colonial South Carolina, 78; Frederick Dalcho, An Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina from the First Settlement of the Province to the War of the Revolution (Charleston: E. Thayer, 1820), 38; Sir Thomas Powys for Lord Granville, in Stock, ed., Proceedings and Debates, 3:122.

30 Joseph Lord to Thomas Hinckley, February 21, 1699, in “The Hinckley Papers,” 305; Mabel L. Webber, “Sir Nathaniel Johnson and His Son Robert: Governors of South Carolina, South Carolina Historical Magazine 38 (October 1937): 110–111; Nicholas Trott to Archbishop Tenison, February 17, 1703, quoted in Beasley, Christian Ritual and the Creation of British Slave Societies, 66.

31 L. Lynn Hogue, “Nicholas Trott: Man of Law and Letters,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 76 (January 1975): 30; Sirmans, Colonial South Carolina, 79–80, 104; Governor and Council to SPG, 1702, quoted in Dalcho, Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 52.

32 Nicholas Trott to the Secretary of SPG, September 13, 1707, Records of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, ser. A (Letter Books, 1702–1737), vol. 3, no. 152, p. 303; Samuel Thomas, “A Memorial Relating to the State of the Church of England in the Province of South Carolina” (1705–1706), in “Documents Concerning Rev. Samuel Thomas, 1702–1707,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 5 (January 1904): 34.

33 Sir Thomas Powys for Lord Granville, in Stock, ed., Proceedings and Debates, 3:122; “The Representation and Address of several of the Members of this present Assembly return’d for Colleton County, and other the Inhabitants of this Province, whose names are herunto subscribed,” June 26, 1706, in William J. Rivers, A Sketch of the History of South Carolina to the Close of the Proprietary Government by the Revolution of 1719 (Charleston: McCarter & Co., 1856), 458; Sirmans, Colonial South Carolina, 86.

34 Sirmans, Colonial South Carolina, 87–88; Thomas Cooper and David J. McCord, eds., The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, 10 vols. (Columbia: A.S. Johnston, 1836-1841), 2: 232–233 (Act no. 222), 236–246 (Act no. 225).

35 Stock, ed., Proceedings and Debates, 3:124; Sirmans, Colonial South Carolina, 88–89; S. Charles Bolton, Southern Anglicanism: The Church of England in Colonial South Carolina (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982), 26–28; Cooper and McCord, eds., Statutes at Large, 2:282–294 (Act no. 256).

36 Cooper and McCord, eds., Statutes at Large, 2:283; Jon Butler, The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in a New World Society (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983), 115.

37 Frederick Lewis Weis, The Colonial Clergy and the Colonial Churches of the Middle and Southern Colonies, 29, 33, 39, 51–52, 78, 82–84, 86–87, 92, 100, 105; Dalcho, Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 244–274, 284–302, 366–374.

38 Bolton, Southern Anglicanism, 166–169. Thomas Smith reported to the SPG in 1708 that when he and his father arrived in 1684 they “found that there were two Ministers that professed themselves and were so reputed to be of the Established Church, according to the laws of England,” Phineas Rogers and Atkin Williamson. (Thomas Smith to SPG, January 16, 1708, “Letter by Second Landgrave Smith,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 32 [January 1931]: 61–62.) Also, John Oldmixon related that a “Mr. Warmel was sent over” around 1700. (John Oldmixon, The History of the British Empire in America [London, 1708], in Alexander S. Salley, Jr., ed., Narratives of Early Carolina, 1605–1708 [1911; rpt. New York: Barnes & Nobel, 1953], 364.) Neither Rogers nor Williamson nor Warmel is included in Bolton’s list of Anglican ministers who served in South Carolina between 1696 and 1775. Nor is Lauren Van den Bosch included. Thus Bolton counts seven, not eleven, Anglican clergy as arriving in lowcountry South Carolina through 1706.

39 The Anglican survey of 1724 has been carefully analyzed by Patricia Bonomi and Peter Eisenstadt. See their “Church Adherence in the Eighteenth-Century British American Colonies,” 253–262. The ministers’ responses to the bishop of London are included in an unpaginated appendix, ibid., following page 276. All the calculations presented here are base on these printed responses. A multiplier of five is used to figure mean family size. Peter Wood (Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion, [1974; rpt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1975], 146–149] uses the same multiplier and provides population statistics for each parish as well as the colony as a whole. See also Coclanis, The Shadow of a Dream, 64–65. The total European population of South Carolina stood at approximately 6,525 in 1720, and at approximately 10,000 in 1730. Coclanis calculates that the white population grew at a compounded annual rate of 4.4 during the decades of the 1720s. However, a rate of 4.36 actually yields a closer total, 9,998, for 1730, and suggests that the South Carolina’s European population stood at about 7,739 in 1724.

40 Alexander S. Salley, Jr., ed., Journal of the Commons House of Assembly of South Carolina, June 2, 1724–June 16, 1724 (Columbia: Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1944), 24.

41 Gideon Johnston to Secretary of the SPG, July 5, 1710, in Klingberg, ed., Carolina Chronicle, 39; Bolton, Southern Anglicanism, 30–31, 42, 45–48, 155–156, and passim.

42 Francis Le Jau quoted in Bonomi and Eisenstadt, “Church Adherence in the Eighteenth-Century British American Colonies,” 252.  La Jau served as a missionary in St. James Goose Creek Parish from 1706 to 1717, when he died of fever.  Just before his death, La Jau was chosen Commissary of South Carolina in succession to Gideon Johnston.  Frank J. Klingberg, ed., The Carolina Chronicle of Dr. Francis Le Jau, 1706-1717 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1956), 4.

43 Gideon Johnston to Secretary of the SPG, July 5, 1710, Klingberg, ed., Carolina Chronicle, 56: Johnston to Secretary of the SPG, January 27, 1711, in ibid., 81. In 1768 South Carolina’s indefatigable Anglican itinerant Charles Woodmason described how pluralistic practices within the expanding colony’s state church had “quite inverted the Nature of Things” by the eve of the American Revolution. Settling in the vast inland reaches of St. Mark’s Parish on the Carolina frontier, Woodmason found that the newly-built Anglican chapel on the Congaree River had “No Pews, Font, Communion Table, or any thing resembling a Place of Worship, saving [the] Pulpit, so that it may serve either for a Conventicle, Chapel...or any Thing.” He further discovered that the former rector of the parish church “would dispense with the Ring in Marriage–[to] prevent tender Consciences from running to unknown Magistrates, to get Married.” He went on to note how “Mr. Rowand…retrenched the Service–omitted 2 or 3 Repetitions of the Lords Prayer–Gave an Extempore Prayer before Sermon–Preach’d Extempore –Wore no Surplice–Officiated in a Coat–Put his Band in his Pocket–Wore a Blue instead of a Black Coat–Never call’d for God fathers or God Mothers:–Nor us’d the Sign of the Cross excepted desir’d–Or read the Nicene or Athanasian Creeds, but by desire–Left it to People to receive Standing, or Kneeling at receiving the Communion–Varied several Passage in the different Offices, and endeavored to make himself All Things to All Men.” Richard J. Hooker, ed., The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution: The Journal and Other Writings of Charles Woodmason, Anglican Itinerant (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953), 105.

44 Gideon Johnston, “The Present State of the Clergy of South Carolina,” in Arthur H. Hirsh, The Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1928), 298.

45 Ibid., 300, 304; John La Pierre to Rev. C.G. de la Mothe, August 13, 1714, in Winifred Turner, The Aufrere Papers: Calendar and Selections, Huguenot Society of London Publications 40 (Frome, England: Butler & Tanner, 1940), 211; La Pierre to the Secretary of SPG, February 15, 1716, Records of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, ser. B (Letters, 1701–1786), vol. 4, p. 52; Hillel Schwartz, The French Prophets: The History of a Millenarian Group in Eighteenth-Century England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 54–62, 72–79, 113–153.

46 John La Pierre to Rev. C.G. de la Mothe, August 13, 1714, in Winifred Turner, The Aufrere Papers, 211.

47 John La Pierre to the Secretary of SPG, February 15, 1716, quoted in Butler, The Huguenots in America, 118.

48 Gideon Johnston, “The Present State of the Clergy of South Carolina,” in Hirsch, The Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina, 303, 309.

49 Alexander Garden, Take Heed How Ye Hear: A Sermon Preached in the Parish Church of St. Philip Charles-Town, in South Carolina, on Sunday the 13th of July, 1740. With a Preface, containing some Remarks on Mr. Whitefield’s Journals (Charleston: Peter Timothy, 1741), 31; Great Britain Public Record Office, Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series Preserved in the Public Record Office (1860; rept. London: Forgotten Books, 2013), 243, http://www.forgottenbooks.com/readbook_text/Calendar_of_State_Papers_Colonial_Series_Preserved_in_the_Public_1000895513/293 (accessed March 13, 2015); Butler, The Huguenots in America, 119–120. Interestingly, the 1724 Church of England census, discussed above, counts for St. Dennis “16 French families…plus 18 families in dispute with the church…” (quoted in Bonomi and Peter Eisenstadt, “Church Adherence in the Eighteenth-Century British American Colonies,” appendix); thus suggesting that the St. Dennis revolt, contrary to traditional accounts, persisted through the end of the notorious Dutartre affair.

50 Garden, Take Heed How Ye Hear, 35-36.

51 Ibid., 24. On eighteenth-century Atlantic Protestant revivalism, see W.R. Ward, The Protestant Evangelical Awakening (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

52 Josiah Smith, Humane Impositions Proved Unscriptural, or the Divine Right of Private Judgment. A Sermon Preached at the Opening of Presbytery in Charlestown in the Province of South Carolina, March 5th. 1728,9 (Boston: D. Henchman, 1729), ii; Roger Thomas, “The Non-Subscription Controversy amongst Dissenters in 1719: The Salters’ Hall Debate,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 4 (October 1953): 162–186; Charles Scott Sealy, “Church Authority and Non-Subscription Controversies in 18th Century Presbyterianism” (Ph.D. diss., University of Glasgow, 2010), 195–228, http://theses.gla.ac.uk/1792/ (accessed March 31, 2015).

53 Walter L. Robbins, ed., “John Tobler’s Description of South Carolina (1754),” South Carolina Historical Magazine 71 (October 1970): 262.

54 Perry Miller, “Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening,” in Errand into the Wilderness (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956), 157; Jon Butler, “Church Membership: Less than God-Fearing,” in Mapping America’s Past: A Historical Atlas, ed. Mark C. Carnes and John A. Garraty (New York: Henry Holt, 1996), 50–51.

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