Thursday, April 30, 2020

Moravian Rites of Death in Bethlehem, PA

Escapes: Moravian rites of death in Bethlehem, PA.
By Sue Kovach Shuman September 28, 2012


'Moravian funeral processions followed the path above from the Old Chapel to God’s Acre cemetery in Bethlehem, Pa. 

'With a little imagination, you can almost hear the trombones at God’s Acre cemetery in Bethlehem, Pa. At the funerals of all 2,617 Moravians buried here since 1742, trombone music accompanied a solemn procession of mourners carrying the dead to their final resting place.

'They were brought here on “death trays,” which are basically large cradles, as I learned on a tour called “Death and Dying in Early Bethlehem: Going Home” offered by the nonprofit organization Historic Bethlehem. It’s a 1¼-hour look at the funeral practices of the Moravians, Protestant settlers from the then-Habsburg-controlled lands of Moravia and Bohemia who settled the area in the 1700s, founding Bethlehem in 1741.

"The tour begins at the Moravian Museum, also known as the 1741 Gemeinhaus, in the town’s oldest building. In the upstairs meeting room, or Saal, where the Moravians worshiped, docent Madeline Morris instructed the men in our group to sit on one side, the women on the other, as the Moravians would have sat.

"In the Moravian community of the day, life was highly regimented. Single men and women lived in separate buildings. “You ate within, were educated within and worshiped within your choir,” said Morris, “choir” in this instance meaning group, not a musical organization.

"You could tell a woman’s age and status — single, married or widowed — by the color of ribbon on her Moravian cap. This was a cap “with a birdlike beak,” Morris told us, like the one she was wearing. She also wore a dress that was fastened down the front with straight pins, as would have been common in 1760. Women “also used hawthorn thorns,” Morris said, to hold their dresses together. I noticed that she never flexed her shoulders, so that the pins stayed in place, and wondered how many pin injuries Moravian women might have sustained.

"The museum contains a music room, because music was very important to the Moravians, who sang as they worked, Morris said. The first recorded use of trombones in America was in 1754 in Bethlehem. Trombones were the primary musical instrument used for celebrations — and a funeral was a celebration.

"Morris told us the story of an ailing woman who heard some anxious theological students practicing their trombones one day as she lay in her sickbed. “Those rascals,” the woman reportedly said. “I’m not dying.” And sure enough, she rallied to spite the students, who were removed from music duty.

"Some blue and white Delftware jugs in the first doctor’s apothecary at the museum still contain some drugs. The room also features a 1788 “kranken stube,” a cushiony easy chair for the sick that’s a contrast to the bare wooden benches mostly used back then.

"We headed outdoors for the rest of the tour. A death tray, on loan from the Central Moravian Church, lay sheltered in an archway near exposed log walls. Morris described the funeral ritual.

"A body, covered by a white cloth and placed on the death tray, would be taken to the corpse house, which no longer exists but once stood near the Old Chapel, the original building of the Central Moravian Church. There was no embalming. The body would perhaps be kept in the corpse house for a few days “if relatives had to come” from afar, Morris said.

"Moravians kept diaries, including their thoughts on death. Indeed, “they aspired to death,” Morris said. “You live for Christ here and long for the day when you meet your savior.” When someone died, his diary would be read at his grave.

"The tour wound uphill past the Old Chapel to the cemetery along the same route trod so many times in bygone years.

"God’s Acre, which is actually three acres, fronts on Market Street and is surrounded by church property on two sides. Flat grave markers hug the ground, all but one exactly alike, because Moravians believed that everybody is equal in death. Lives are reduced to a few lines. Rows and sections are segregated by sex and marital status, as in life.

"The cemetery tour, which stops at a dozen graves, is like a Who Was Who in Bethlehem. John Mueller’s tombstone reads No. 1 because he was the first person buried in the cemetery. To his left rests first-name-only Ben, an Indian who died in 1746. James Burnside, who wasn’t a farmer but became one because that’s what the community needed, died in 1755 of a massive stroke on his plantation, which is now a historic site.

"John Ettwein, administrator of Bethlehem during the American Revolution, “was noted for his principles,” Morris said. He thought that one baker’s pennycakes, a staple treat for children, “were a bit light” and weighed a few. They were. “He wrote a scathing letter to the baker,” who stopped cheating, Morris said.

"Morris showed us a picture of artist John Valentine Haidt, whose religious paintings were carried by Moravian missionaries in North America. Native Americans supposedly wept when they saw his painting of Jesus nailed to the cross, Morris said. She also showed us an illustration of Michael, a native American with red scars and tattoos over much of his body, who became a Christian and was buried in section A in 1758.

"I was moved by the stories in the women’s section. Susanna Louisa Partsch, who had an abusive stepfather, became a missionary and escaped a Delaware Indians massacre by jumping out of a window of a burning building and hiding in a hollow log. Mariana Hoecht, who was captured in 1755 and “given in marriage” to two successive Native Americans, eventually escaped and returned to Bethlehem, where she died at age 34.

"The largest tombstone, in the middle of a paved path, belongs to Juliana Nitschmann, a leader in the community who was known as the mother of Pennsylvania for her work among women.

"Morris pointed out the graves of children either stillborn or dead before they were named, marked with “Beatus” or “Beata,” meaning “blessed one...”

"But for what LoriAnn Wukitsch of Historic Bethlehem describes as “not a ghostly, howly tour,” but fact-based insight into the Moravians, there’s “Death and Dying.” I’d come to Bethlehem to bring the dead to life, and I wasn’t disappointed."

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Moravian Holy Spirit as Mother


"One of the least known & most intriguing parts of Zinzendorf’s theology is his use of the word "Mother" to describe the Holy Spirit. This was not just a passing fancy for Zinzendorf. In fact, for over twenty years, this was the primary way he referred to the Holy Spirit & towards the end of his life, his attachment to this type of devotion increased. In the 1750s, the Moravians sang several litanies about the Mother, & even had a special annual festival celebrating the "enthronement" of the Spirit as the Mother of the church.
1810 Stained Glass Window at York's PA First Moravian Church

"Zinzendorf’s approach to the motherhood of the Holy Spirit may relevance for contemporary discussion on the language we use when we speak of God. For Zinzendorf, the main issue was not whether a metaphor was sexist, it was whether the metaphor clearly, concretely, & persuasively communicated the nature of God. For him, it was better for the believer to call the Spirit "Mother" than anything else because that word communicates something essential about the way in which the Holy Spirit deals with the children of God. In his own life, he found that he had difficult experiencing the reality of the Holy Spirit until he came upon this metaphor.

"I could not speak about it [the Holy Spirit], since I did not know how I should define it. I simply believed that she is the third person of the Godhead, but I could not say how this was properly so. Instead I thought of her abstractly. ... The Holy Spirit had known me well, but I did not know her before the year 1738. That is why I carefully avoided entering in the matter until the Mother Office of the Holy Spirit had been so clearly opened up for me.

"According to Zinzendorf, the name which best communicates the reality of the Spirit’s relationship to Christians is simply "Mother" because those who know the Spirit know her as the Mother. Those who experience the Trinity in their hearts know that "a family must be complete. We must have a Father, Mother, & Husband."

"God [Christ] is even our dear husband, his Father is our dear Father, & the Holy Spirit is our dear Mother, with that we are finished, with that the family-idea, the oldest, the simplest, the most respectable, the most endearing idea among all human ideas, the true biblical idea, is established with us in the application of the holy Trinity, for no one is nearer to one than Father, Mother, & Husband.

This is language that even a child can comprehend. It is the best language to communicate spiritual reality for all people because it does not depend on abstract reasoning or speculation on unfathomable realities.

"Zinzendorf argued for the scriptural authority of the Mother Office by linking together the Old & New Testament verses Isaiah 66:13 & John 14:26:  "When the dear Savior at the end of his life wanted to comfort his disciples (at that time the language was not as rich as ours is); by that time the Savior, who was a very great bible student, had doubtlessly read the verse in the Bible "I will comfort you as a mother comforts one." Then the dear Savior thought, "If I should say to my disciples that I am going away, then I must give them some comfort. I must say to them that they will receive someone who will comfort them over my departure. It will not be strange to them, for they have already read it in the Bible. ...There it reads, they shall have a Mother: "I will leave you my Spirit."

"Zinzendorf acknowledges that theologians have generally rejected this linking of verses & the subsequent naming of the Holy Spirit "Mother," but he responds:Now no theologian is irritated if the word comfort is taken out of the passage & applied to the Holy Spirit, for they call her the Comforter. But if we take out the word Mother & signify it to the Holy Spirit, then people are opposed to it. I can find no cause for such bickering & arbitrariness, & therefore I pay no attention to it. For if the activity in a passage is proper to the Holy Spirit, then the title also goes to the Holy Spirit.

"Zinzendorf insists that the word "Mother" does not introduce a distinction of genders into the deity, such as Ann Lee or Mary Baker Eddy proposed, but deals only with the activity of God in the world. The Mother is not a goddess. Rather, the Holy Spirit acts in the role of mother to the church.

"Zinzendorf explicated his doctrine of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming that she is a mother in three distinct ways. First, it was the Spirit, not Mary, who was the true mother of Jesus, since she "prepared him in the womb, hovered over him, & finally brought him into the light. She [the Spirit] gave him [Jesus] certainly into the arms of his mother, but with invisible hands carried him more than his mother did." Second, the Spirit is the mother of all living things because she has a special role in the on-going creation of the world. "It is known that the Holy Spirit brings everything to life, & when the man was made from a clump of earth ... the Holy Spirit was very close through the breathing of the breath of God into the man." Thus, the Holy Spirit is the mother of all living souls in a general way.

"The Holy Spirit is also the Mother in a third & most important sense. She is the Mother of the church & all those who have been reborn. "The Holy Spirit is the only Mother of those souls who have been once born out of the side hole of Jesus, as the true womb of all blessed souls." Zinzendorf bases this understanding of the Spirit giving birth to converted souls in large part on Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, not from his mother’s womb, but from God. Nicodemus knew that we are born from a mother, not a father, but he did not know who this mother was. Zinzendorf has Jesus reply, "There is another Mother, not the one who physically gave you birth, that one doesn’t matter: you must have another Mother who will give you birth." Ultimately, then, the Holy Spirit is the Mother of the Christian in the sense that she is the active agent in conversion. Human actors are only agents of the Holy Spirit, & in some cases are not even necessary for conversion.

"The first duty of the Spirit is to preach Christ, but her motherly work does not end there. The Mother also cares for her spiritual children just as a human mother cares for her physical children. She protects, guides, admonishes, & comforts the child of God throughout the changing years of earthly life. "The Mother does not rest until a child has lasting grace, until it finally sinks into the hands of the one Husband, the Friend of all souls, the Creator of all things, who is now the Bridegroom." The care of the Holy Spirit mainly takes the form of preserving Christians from sin. Believers enter the school of the Holy Spirit where they are taught what they should & should not do. Just as a human mother teaches her child proper behavior by saying, "My child, you must do it this way, [&] you must not do that," so too does the Holy Spirit."

"The Mother who is above all mothers [says], "I will comfort you; I will remind you; I will motivate you; I will define you; I will wean you from all rudeness & uncivil things. I will make a well-bred child out of you, better than any mother does in all the world."

"The language of motherhood expresses the intimate connection the Br├╝dergemeine felt with God through the Spirit. Each member of the Br├╝dergemeine is a child who "sits on the Mother’s lap, is received into the school, & is led through all classes; then it is under the special dispensation, under the motherly regimen of the Holy Spirit, who comforts, punishes, & kisses the heart, as a mother comforts, punishes, & kisses her own child."

"The heavenly Mother works individually since she knows the thoughts & weaknesses of her children & guides them in the path that is best for them. She directs their development in understanding & ability until their maturity & completion in death because "she has created the world with the Savior & now is [re-]making every child until it is a new creation, until it become one in the spirit with him, & she nurses & watches until it is grown."

"For Zinzendorf, the Christian community is modeled on the Holy Trinity, which is the original Gemeine & the original Kirche. This model was tarnished by Adam & Eve but has been restored by Jesus Christ & is marked by intimacy with one another & with God. All Christians are in the family of God. "Therefore nothing is better [than] to live in the family of our Husband, his Father, & our dear Mother." Children who grow up in this Gemeine of God should no more be able to doubt the reality of their membership than children who grow up in an earthly household can doubt that they were born into the family."

The Church's Prayer to the Holy Spirit (1759)

    1. Thou, who from the Father hast
    ‘Fore all Time proceeded,
    Spirit, by whom the Virgin Blest
    The Son here conceived!

    2. Since the Lamb of God, so red,
    Is his People’s Brother,
    And Christ’s God their Father’s made,
    Thou’rt the Church’s Mother.

    3. Of thy Name, O God, & Breath
    Grant us still the Nearness!
    That the Word of Jesu’s
    Shine to Souls with Clearness.

    4. Whom from Death-Sleep of the Fall
    Our dear Lord doth quicken,
    Fetch into thy Church-Ark all;
    Help their Abba speaking.

    5. As in greatest Things thy Will
    Meets with Execution:
    So in small shall it fulfil
    His Church-Constitution.

    6. Of the Righteousness of God
    Thro’ the Blood-Effusion,
    Of that daily Bread & Food
    Thou mak’st Distribution.

    7. MOTHER! all the Church’s Life
    Is the Father’s Kindness,
    Our Lord’s Patience with his Wife,
    And thy rich Forgiveness.

    8. We would fain not tempted be,
    With none thus distressed;
    Yet if one’s chastis’d by Thee,
    It to him be blessed.

    9. And till once the wicked Fiend
    Is at God’s Feet lying, (Ps. cx.1. Heb. ii.8.)
    Sleeps within thy Cradle screen’d
    The Church from his Trying.

    10. Amen, Ruach Elohim!
    Come in th’ Name of Jesus,
    Thy Children’s whole Sanhedrim

    Rule with Instinct gracious.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Haube, a Simple Cap For 18tC Pennsylvania Moravian Sisters

Unknown Artist, Moravian Single Sister, Moravian Historical Society, Nazareth, PA

The head-covering worn is this painting is a Schwestern Haube, a sister's cap. A Haube is a simple, close-fitting cap worn by Moravian women, sometimes referred to as a Schneppel Haube because of the pointed peak in the middle of the forehead. A smaller version is sometimes still worn by servers during lovefeasts.

Moravian women adoped a uniform style of dress in Herrnhut in the 1730s. The Haube was the headcovering of their neighbors in Berthesdorf. By the early 19th Century, most Moravian women considered the Haube unflattering; and in 1815, many adopted regular English-style bonnets. In Pennsylvania, the Lititz Moravian Church Museum and Archives has a collection of Haubes.

Moravian women, whose chief duty was to their community & God, not to their family, husband, or self, worked jobs benefiting the larger community. They were freed from traditional familial duties.

The Moravians 1st came to British America during the colonial period. In 1735 they were part of General Oglethorpe’s philanthropic venture in Georgia. Their attempt to establish a community in Savannah did not succeed, but they did have a profound impact on the young John Wesley who had gone to Georgia during a personal spiritual crisis. Wesley was impressed that the Moravians remained calm during a storm that was panicking experienced sailors. He was amazed at people who did not fear death, & back in London he worshiped with Moravians writing that his “heart was strangely warmed.”

After the failure of the Georgia mission, the Moravians established a permanent presence in Pennsylvania in 1741, settling on the estate of evangalist George Whitefield. Moravian settlers purchased 500 acres to establish the settlement of Bethlehem in 1741. Soon they bought the 5,000 acres of the Barony of Nazareth from Whitefield’s manager, & the 2 communities of Bethlehem & Nazareth became closely linked in their agricultural & industrial economy.  Other settlement congregations were established in Pennsylvania, New Jersey & Maryland. They built the Pennsylvania communities of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Lititz, & Hope. They also established congregations in Philadelphia & on Staten Island in New York. All were considered frontier centers for the spread of the gospel, particularly in mission to the Native Americans. Bethlehem was the center of Moravian activity in colonial America.

Bishop Augustus Spangenberg led a party to survey a 100,000 acre tract of land in North Carolina, which came to be known as Wachau after an Austrian estate of Count Zinzendorf. The name, later anglicized to Wachovia, became the center of growth for the church in that region. Bethabara, Bethania & Salem (now Winston-Salem) were the 1st Moravian settlements in North Carolina. In 1857 the 2 American provinces, North & South, became largely independent & set about expansion. Bethlehem in Pennsylvania & Winston-Salem in North Carolina became the headquarters of the two provinces (North & South).

The facet of Moravian life that bound the community together like no other was their dedication to missionary work; the Moravians were the most active Protestant missionaries of the 18C, sending community members to the West Indies, South America, & as far as South Africa. By 1760, the Moravians had sent out 226 missionaries & baptized more than 3,000 converts, including American Natives. In North America the key undertaking for Moravian missionaries was to convert the Native Americans to Christianity. The Moravians viewed the natives as heathens in need of spiritual enlightenment & guidance.

One feature of Moravian community life was the Choir System. People
were separated into “choirs,” or groups, based on their age, gender, & marital status. It was believed that individuals of like age & gender were best prepared & able to encourage each other’s religious growth. Members of the same choir ate, worked, worshiped, slept in dormitories, & attended school together. This communal living arrangement was intended to strengthen the unity of the society as members had to rely on choir-mates for support rather than their siblings or parents. The names of the choirs reflected the sex, age & marital status of those in the choir, such as the “Older Boys’ Choir,” ages 12-19 or the “Single Sister’s Choir,” age 19 until marriage.

All work performed by the Moravians during the pre-Revolutionary War years operated under a system known as the “General Economy,” in which all goods or money produced was considered the property of the community, not the individual. Under this system there was no private wealth or housing, nor any privately owned businesses. Every member’s contribution was collectively pooled & in exchange, necessities such as food, shelter & clothing were provided.

Marie Minier, a Single Sister in the Bethlehem community, praised the General
Economy in 1750 stating that, “For 12 years now I have enjoyed the care [of the General Economy] & eaten from one bread & been clothed, all of which to this hour has been great and of importance to me. I . . . accept things the way the Brethren do things, for it is a wonder to me daily that He has maintained so large a community, & we cannot say that we have ever gone without.” For single women like Marie Minier, the General Economy system afforded them relative security & independence; single women who chose not to marry did not need to rely on a father or brother for financial support, nor worry about becoming a financial burden. In other parts of 18C British America women who did not marry usually would have been socially & economically excluded, dependent on their fathers or male family members.

Yet by the 1760s, the system of communal property began to wear on the younger generations of ambitious Moravians who saw that in other communities hard work was rewarded with personal financial gain. In 1762, the General Economy was abolished in favor of self-owned & operated small businesses & private family homes.

To learn about the lives of 18C Moravian women see:

Faull, Katharine. Moravian Women's Memoirs: Their Related Lives, 1750-1820. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997.

Smaby, Beverly Prior. "Female Piety Among 18th-Century Moravians." Pennsylvania History 64 (1997): 151-167.

Wachovia Historical Society, Winston-Salem, North Carolina & Old Salem, Inc., Winston-Salem, North Carolina 1750 Johann Valentine Haidt (1700-1780). Women portrayed as separate but sharing power at the Moravian Synod at Herrnhut.& "Forming the Single Sisters' Choir in Bethlehem." The Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 28 (1994): 1-14

Sommer, Elisabeth W. Serving Two Masters: Moravian Brethren in Germany & North Carolina, 1727-1801. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2000.

Vogt, Peter. "A Voice for Themselves: Women as Participants in Congregational Discourse in the 18th-Century Moravian Movement." In Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity, edited by Beverly Mayne Kienzle and Pamela J. Walker, 227-247. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

1799 American Mother & Child

1799 Artist Bouche. (in Baltimore in 1795). Ann Ogle (Mrs. John Tayloe III) and daughters Rebecca and Henrietta.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Moravian Women during the 18C Century

"A remarkable painting by Johann Valentin Haidt tells us a great deal about the roles of Moravian women during Zinzendorf's time. It depicts a session of the Moravian synod held at Herrnhut in 1750. In the center of the painting, men & women members of synod are gathered around a table, all major leaders in the Moravian Church, including the women. Countess Erdmuthe Dorothea von Zinzendorf, Zinzendorf's first wife, is shown at the table, for instance. After 1732 she shouldered the administration of Zinzendorf's financial affairs, which at that time were closely tied to the finances for the Moravian Church. Anna Nitschmann is shown on the left of the Countess. In 1730 she became the Chief Eldress for all women in the Church, & in 1746 she was named Mother of the entire Moravian Church. Anna Johanna Pietsch, to the left of Anna Nietschmann, became the General Eldress for all Single Sisters in 1747. Since eighteenth century European women did not generally hold positions of religious leadership, women leaders come as a surprise, but they were just one part of a well developed system of female leadership among Moravians. Women were members of councils at every level of Moravian society around the world, & in these governing bodies they participated actively in discussions & decisions. Women were also active spiritual leaders: they served as acolytes; they were ordained as deaconesses, eldresses, & for a brief moment, even as presbyters (ministers); as deaconesses & eldresses, they led worship & preached in services for their own choirs; a few Moravian woman ordained deaconesses & female presbyters, a function usually reserved for bishops, although women never officially assumed that office.

"It was Zinzendorf who made possible the culture in which women became so unusually prominent, but it is important to place his role in perspective. His views about society were in many ways typical of the eighteenth century. For Zinzendorf, human beings were not equal to each other except before the Savior, & the Moravian world he created made extensive use of hierarchy. The painting by Haidt makes this clear. Zinzendorf & the three people on either side of him sat in chairs with higher, wider backs than others at the table. Zinzendorf's was widest of all. And even though women were included at the table, it is clear that men maintained their dominance over women. Of the twenty-four people at the center table, only six were women, & Zinzendorf sat at the head of the table, his wife at his left - a symbol of his leading role in the Church & her position, important but subordinate to his. However, Zinzendorf went far enough in encouraging untraditional roles for women to cause substantial discomfort inside the Moravian Church & bitter criticism outside of it.

"Leadership roles for women did not result from a concern for gender equality. Rather, they were a byproduct of the separation of the sexes in Moravian settlements. In Zinzendorf's view, males & females of various ages had different religious needs. Beginning in the 1730s, Moravians formed "choirs" which divided their members into groups for Little Boys, Little Girls, Older Boys, Older Girls, Single Brothers, Single Sisters, Married Brothers, Married Sisters, Widowers, & Widows. Worship services for each of the choirs emphasized aspects of the Savior's life which best spoke to that choir. Children, for instance, learned about Jesus as a child. Single Brothers focused on Jesus as a single man. The Sisters' & Older Girls' Choirs emphasized Jesus as spiritual husband & Virgin Mary as the medium through which Christ became human. Experience showed that choir members were very effective at encouraging spiritual growth in each other, as Anna Nitschmann did in her 1730 covenant with Single Sisters in Herrnhut. It followed that leadership should also come from within each choir, even if their members were women.

"Another reason for female leadership was the intimacy required between ministers & believers for spiritual growth. To prevent any improper relationships from developing, Zinzendorf arranged that men should serve as spiritual leaders for men's choirs & women for women's. In mission settlements like Bethlehem, members of each choir lived & worked together in separate quarters, an organization that required some choir leaders to carry secular responsibility as well. These men & women served not only as spiritual & secular leaders within their own choirs, they also represented their choirs on local governing councils. The fact that children were raised in communal choir houses in these settlements meant that even Married Sisters had time to fill leadership roles.

"Although it was Zinzendorf who created the environment that supported female leadership, women in the Church embraced it enthusiastically. Women respected & loved their leaders, & the leaders themselves frequently showed how much they valued their opportunity to carry major responsibilities. Leaders of Single Sisters, for instance, were often reluctant to marry & give up their roles, & prominent Widows mourned not only the passing of their husbands, but the loss of leadership positions they had held with their husbands. Without Zinzendorf's support, women could not have held these positions, but neither could Zinzendorf have successfully implemented leadership by women without their enthusiastic participation.

"Beyond the offices they held, women served Moravian communities as models of how to be good Christians. Zinzendorf thought women were less likely than men to be "dry" or spiritually barren & more likely to feel joy & love in their relation to the Savior. In addition, the subordination required of women in society made it easier for them to be properly submissive to the Savior. By observing women, men could learn how to be submissive believers, too.

"Not all of Zinzendorf's opinions about women were positive. He was clearly ambivalent about the nature of women. Taking examples from the Old Testament & from his own experience, he found that women were likely to have the original sin of deceptiveness. Men, he thought, also had an original sin, namely lust, but men's was in his view less harmful than women's. Lust was so obviously sinful that it would encourage men to seek the help of the Savior, whereas women's deceptiveness might deceive even themselves into thinking they were good.

"Zinzendorf also thought that women were less likely than men to have the ability to govern well. However, this implied that some women could govern effectively, a radical thought for most Europeans in the eighteenth century. Zinzendorf was surrounded by women who amply demonstrated their administrative talent: Henriette Catharine von Gersdorf (his grandmother), Erdmuthe Dorothea von Zinzendorf (his first wife), and Anna Nitschmann (who worked closely with him as a church leader & became his second wife), to name just a few.

"Even though Zinzendorf's advocacy of women's leadership roles was based soley on religious necessity, it was apparently threatening to others. Outside the Moravian Church, critics published angry polemics against him. Inside the Church, his policies must also have been perceived as problematic. While Zinzendorf lived, there was little written evidence of criticism by Moravians, but with surprising speed after his death in 1760, the new Moravian leaders dismantled the leadership roles of women & the religious practice that helped support it. In the four General Synods held between 1764 & 1782, many changes were made to bring Moravian policies & doctrine into line with that of other Protestants. In the process, women's roles were redefined & greatly limited. Members of the 1764 synod prohibited women from holding any "general" offices with authority over the entire Moravian Church, as Anna Nitschmann had done. In the new directorship established by this synod, women were to be no more than "helpers & advisors." This same synod decided that women's choirs needed male oversight in secular matters. For that purpose, the office of Curator was established. After the synod of 1775, only Bishops could ordain deaconesses & women were even prohibited from assisting in ordinations. Any special religious emphasis for women was also suppressed. In 1783 church leaders scolded the Single Sisters for promoting the Incarnation in their services, saying that the essential point was the "Savior's blood & death" & that the Incarnation belonged to the sanctification of everyone, not just the Single Sisters.

"The fact that efforts to curtail female leadership & women's religious practice began so soon after Zinzendorf's death shows how much he had done to encourage both while he lived. Even his ambivalence towards women supported their leading roles. Because he agreed with the basic eighteenth century view that men must remain superior to women, his reasons why some Moravian women had to govern carried more weight. This same ambivalence meant that his successors could buttress their limitations of women's roles with some of Zinzendorf's own statements, but if Zinzendorf could have visited Moravian settlements thirty years after his death, no doubt he would have regretted the loss of female leadership. After all, he had not only created it, but consistently defended it during his lifetime."

Further Reading
Smaby, Beverly."Female Piety Among Eighteenth Century Moravians." Pennsylvania History 64 (1997): 151-167.

Smaby, Beverly. "Forming the Single Sisters' Choir in Bethlehem." The Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 28 (1994): 1-14.

Vogt, Peter. "A Voice for Themselves: Women as Participants in Congregational Discourse in the Eighteenth-Century Moravian Movement." In Women Preachers & Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity, edited by Beverly Mayne Kienzle & Pamela J. Walker, 227-247. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. (In print)

An excellent translated collection of Moravian women's autobiographical memoirs is published in:
Faull, Katharine. Moravian Women's Memoirs: Their Related Lives, 1750-1820. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf & American Moravian Men & Women


"Nicholas Ludwig, Count Zinzendorf, was born in Dresden in 1700. He was very much a part of the Pietist movement in Germany, which emphasized personal piety & an emotional component to the religious life. This was in contrast to the state Lutheran Church of the day, which had grown to symbolize a largely intellectual faith centered on belief in specific doctrines. He believed in "heart religion," a personal salvation built on the individual's spiritual relationship with Christ.
Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf 1700-1760

"Zinzendorf was born into one of the most noble families of Europe. His father died when he was an infant, & he was raised at Gros Hennersdorf, the castle of his influential Pitetistic grandmother. Stories abound of his deep faith during childhood. As a young man he struggled with his desire to study for the ministry & the expectation that he would fulfill his hereditary role as a Count. As a teenager at Halle Academy, he & several other young nobles formed a secret society, The Order of the Grain of Mustard Seed. The stated purpose of this order was that the members would use their position & influence to spread the Gospel. As an adult, Zinzendorf later reactivated this adolescent society, & many influential leades of Europe ended up joining the group. A few included the King of Denmark, the Archbishop of Canterbury, & the Archbishop of Paris.

"Zinzendorf was one of the most controversial figures of the early 18C. The crowned heads of Europe & religious leaders of both Europe & America all knew him -- & either loved him or hated him.
Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf 1700-1760

"During his Grand Tour (a rite of passage for young aristocrats) Nicolas visited an art museum in Dusseldorf where he saw a Domenico Feti painting titled Ecce Homo, "Behold the Man." It portrayed the crucified Christ with the legend, "This have I done for you - Now what will you do for me?" The young count as profoundly moved & appears to have had an almost mystical experience while looking at the painting, feeling as if Christ himself was speaking those word to his heart. He vowed that day to dedicate his life to service to Christ.

"Zinzendorf married Erdmuth Dorothea von Reuss, a cousin, & assumed his duties as a young noble in the courst of King August the Strong. In 1722, he was approached by a group of Moravians to request permission to live on his lands. He granted their request, & a small band crossed the border from Moravia to settle in a town they called Herrnhut, or "the Lord's Watch." Zinzendorf was intrigued by the story of the Moravians, & began to read about the early Unity at the library in Dresden. His tenants went through a period of serious division, & it was then in 1727 that Zinzendorf left public life to spend all his time at his Berthelsdorf estate working with the troubled Moravians. Largely due to his leadership in daily Bible studies, the group came to formulate a unique document, known as the "Brotherly Agreement," which set forth basic tenets of Christian behavior. Residents of Herrnhut were required to sign a pledge to abide by these Biblical principals. There followed an intense & powerful experience of renewal, often described as the "Moravian Pentecost." During a communion service at Berthelsdorf, the entire congregation felt a powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, & felt their previous differences swept away. This experience began the Moravian renewal, & led to the beginning of the Protestant World Mission movement.
Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf 1700-1760

"In 1731, while attending the coronation of Christian VI in Copenhagen, the young Count met a converted slave from the West Indies, Anthony Ulrich. Anthony's tale of his people's plight moved Zinzendorf, who brought him back to Herrnhut. As a result, two young men, Leonard Dober & David Nitchmann, were sent to St. Thomas to live among the slaves & preach the Gospel. This was the first organized Protestant mission work, & grew rapidly to Africa, America, Russia, & other parts of the world. By the end of Zinzendorf's life there were active missions from Greenland to South Africa, literally from one end of the earth to the other. Though the Baptist missionary William Carey is often refered to as the "Father of Modern Missions," he himself would credit Zinzendorf with that role, for he often referred to the model of the earlier Moravians in his journal.

"Zinzendorf himself visited St. Thomas, & later visited America. There he sought to unify the German Protestants of Pennsylvania, even proposing a sort of "council of churches" where all would preserve their unique denominational practices, but would work in cooperation rather than competition. He founded the town of Bethlehem, where his daughter Benigna organized the school which would become Moravian College. His overwhelming interest in the colonies involved evangelising the native Americans, & he traveled into the wilderness with Indian agent Conrad Weiser to meet with the chieftains of several tribes & clans. As far as we have been able to identify, he is the only European noble to have gone out to meet the native American leaders in this manner.
Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf 1700-1760

"Zinzendorf's theology was extraordinarily Christ-centered & innovative. It focussed intensely on the personal experience of a relationship with Christ, & an emotional experience of salvation rather than simply an intellectual assent to certain principles. Dr David Schattschneider, Dean of Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, PA, says that it is probably the fact that Zinzendorf did not attend seminary that allowed his thinking could be so creative. Zinzendorf cast the Trinity & the believers in terms of a family, referring often to the Holy Spirit as "mother." He accorded women a much more substantial role in church life than was normal for the eighteenth century, & suffered great criticism as a result. He allowed women to preach, to hold office, & to be ordained. Anna Nitschmann, the leader of the Single Sisters & later Zinzendorf's second wife, seems to have functioned as a bishop among the women.

"But all Zinzendorf's thinking also focused on missionary outreach & renewal. He envisioned the Moravians not as a separate denomination, but as a dynamic renewal society which would serve to revitalize existing denominations & help create new work in mission areas. There are numerous churches in Pennsylvania where Moravians would start a church & school for the settlers & native Americans, & then turn it over to the Lutheran Church, the Reformed Church, or whatever denomination they perceived to be the strongest in that area.

"Zinzendorf came to know John & Charles Wesley, who had been converted through their contact with the Moravians. The Wesleys later had a split with Zinzendorf & the Moravians ove theological issues, & founded the Methodist Church; but both, especially Charles, retained warm affection for the Moravians throughout their lives.  Zinzendorf died in 1760 at Herrnhut."

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

1773 American Mother & Child

1773 Matthew Pratt (1734-1805). Elizabeth Gay (Mrs. Thomas Bolling) with twins Sarah & Ann.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington 1731-1802 Life as 1st Lady in Philadelphia.



Washington's Philadelphia Residence on High Street.

Although George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States of America on April 30, 1789; it wasn't until 1790, that arrangements were being finalized for a residence for the First Family (certainly not called the "first family" in those days, sorry) in Philadelphia. In 1790, Washington finally was able to begin making plans to move Martha and her 2 nearly teenage grandchildren up from Virginia to live in the house of Robert Morris in Philadelphia.

Her grandchildren's father was Martha's deceased son John Parke Custis (1755-1781). Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis (1779-1852) was about 12, when she arrived in Philadelphia; and her little brother George Washington "Washy, Wash, or Tub" Parke Custis (1781-1856) was 2 years younger. Both children remained at Mount Vernon, after their widowed mother remarried. Their grandmother Martha Dandridge Custis Washington also had been widowed by the death of her 1st husband Daniel Parke Custis only 7 years after their 1750 marriage. She married George Washington 2 years later.


Washington wrote to his secretary Tobias Lear (1760-1816) describing the house in which they would all live on September 5, 1790. Tobias Lear & his new bride would also live in the house. Lear had just married Mary (Polly) Long (1766-1793), his childhood sweetheart. While living in the President's house, they would have a baby boy; but Polly would die in 1793, during the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic that claimed nearly 5,000 people "The house of Mr R. Morris had, previous to my arrival, been taken by the Corporation [the city of Philadelphia] for my Residence. — It is the best they could get. — It is, I believe, the best.Single house accommodation of my family. — These, I believe will be made. The first floor contains only two public Rooms (except one for theupper Servants). — The second floor will have two public (drawing) Rooms & with the aid of one Room with a partition in it, in the back building, will be sufficient for the accommodation of Mrs Washington & the children & their maids — besides affording me a small place for a private study & dressing Room. — The third story will furnish you & Mrs Lear with a good lodging Room — a public Office (for there is no place below for one) and two Rooms for the Gentlemen of the family [Washington's office staff]. — The Garret has four good Rooms which must serve Mr and Mrs Hyde [the steward and his wife] (unless they should prefer the Room over the wash House), — William [Osborne, Washington's valet] — and such Servants as it may not be better to place in the addition (as proposed) to the Back building. — There is a room over the Stable (without a fireplace, but by means of a Stove) may serve the Coachman & Postillions; — and there is a smoke House, which possibly may be more useful to me for the accommodation of Servants, than for the Smoking of Meat. — The intention of the addition to the Back building is to provide a Servants Hall, and one or two (as it will afford) lodging Rooms for the Servants, especially those who are coupled. — There is a very good Wash House adjoining the Kitchen (under one of the Rooms already mentioned). — There are good Stables, but for 12 Horses only, and a Coach House which will hold all of my Carriages..."In a fortnight or 20 days from this time, it is expected Mr Morris will have removed out of the House. — It is proposed to add Bow Windows to the two public Rooms in the South front of the House, — But as all the other apartments will be close & secure the sooner after that time you can be in the House, with the furniture, the better, that you may be well fixed and see how matters go during my absence."
Detail with Slave 1789-96 Edward Savage (1761-1817). The Washington Family. 

It was apparent that Washington felt he needed his personal, house slaves from Mount Vernon to meet the needs of his family and entourage in Philadelphia, at a time when slavery was under grave scrutiny in that Northern city.


Tobias Lear, Washington's protective secretary, wrote to George Long trying to fend off any anticipated criticism, "[Washington's] negroes are not treated as blacks in general are in this Country, they are clothed and fed as well as any labouring people whatever and they are not subject to the lash of a domineering Overseer — but still they are slaves." 


Foreign visitors from privileged backgrounds, such as Viscount de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), were surprised at the lack of security and informality at the President's house in Philadelphia. "September 14, 1791 — A small house built in the English style, and resembling the other houses in its neighborhood, was the palace of the President of the United States; no guards, not even footmen.  
I knocked, a young servant girl opened the door. I asked her if the general was at home; she said that he was. I told her I had a letter to hand him. The girl asked my name, difficult to pronounce in English, and which she did not succeed in retaining.  She then told me gently, 'Walk in, sir,' and she led the way through one of those narrow corridors which serve as vestibules in English houses, introduced me into the parlor and begged me to wait the general's coming."

The first floor of the President's Philadelphia house was constantly a buzz with drop-in & invited visitors, both foreign and native, sometimes very native. In his diary, John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) reported on July 11, 1794, "By the invitation of the President, I attended the reception he gave to Piomingo and a number of other Chickasaw Indians. Five Chiefs, seven Warriors, four boys and an interpreter constituted the Company.  
As soon as the whole were seated the ceremony of smoking began. A large East Indian pipe was placed in the middle of the Hall. The tube which appeared to be of leather, was twelve to fifteen feet in length.  The President began and after two or three whiffs, passed the tube to Piomingo; he to the next chief, and so all around ..."

Supreme Court Justice John B. Wallace described a more sedate, traditional audience with the President, "Washington received his guests, standing between the windows in his back drawing-room. The company, entering a front room and passing through an unfolding door, made their salutations to the President, and turning off, stood on one side."


George Washington did not particularly like surprises and was most comfortable with a set routine which he had practiced and memorized. William Sullivan wrote of the regular formal levee. President Washington, "devoted one hour every Tuesday, from three to four, to these visits...The place of reception was the dining room in the rear, twenty-five of thirty feet in length, including the bow projecting into the garden. At three o'clock, or at any time within a quarter of an hour afterwards, the visiter was conducted to this dining room, from which all seats had been removed for the time.  On entering he saw the manly figure of Washington clad in black velvet; . . . holding a cocked hat with a cockade in it, and the edges adorned with a black feather about an inch deep. He wore knee and shoe buckles; and a long sword, with a finely wrought and polished steel blade, and appearing from under the folds behind. The scabbard was white polished leather.  The visiter was conducted to him, and he required to have the name so distinctly pronounced, that he could hear it. He received the visiter with a dignified bow, while his hands were so disposed of as to indicate that the salutation was not to be accompanied with shaking hands. As visiters came in, they formed a circle around the room. At a quarter past three, the door was closed, and the circle was formed for the day. He then began on the right, and spoke to each visiter, calling him by name, and exchanging a few words with him.

When he had completed his circuit, he resumed his first position, and the visiters approached him in succession, bowed and retired. By four o'clock this ceremony was over."
1790 Edward Savage (1761-1817). Martha Washington (1731-1802). 

During Washington's presidency, family affairs remained important to Martha Washington. In 1786, the president's nephew George Augustine Washington (1758-1793), who was acting as Washington's estate manager & living at Mount Vernon, had married Martha Washington's favorite niece Frances Bassett (1767-1796) of Eltham, who also was living at Mount Vernon.


George Augustine Washington died in 1793, & his widow Fanny Bassett Washington subsequently married Washington's secretary Tobias Lear, a widower with a young son. Before she accepted Lear's proposal, Fanny sought the advice of George & Martha Washington. Martha wrote her on 29 August 1794, "My dear Fanny, I wish I could give you unerring advise in regard to the request contained in your last letter; I really dont know what to say to you on the subject; you must be governed by your own judgement, and I trust providence will derect you for the best; it is a matter more interesting to yourself than any other.
The person contemplated is a worthy man, esteemed by every one that is aquainted with him; he has, it is concieved, fair prospects before him;--is, I belive, very industri[ous] and will, I have not a doubt, make sumthing handsome for himself.--  As to the President, he never has, nor never will, as you have often heard him say, intermeddle in matrimonial concerns. he joins with me however in wishing you every happyness this world can give.--you have had a long acquaintance with Mr Lear, and must know him as well as I do.--he always appeared very attentive to his wife and child, as farr as ever I have seen; he is I believe, a man of strict honor and probity; and one with whom you would have as good a prospect of happyness as with any one I know; but beg you will not let anything I say influence you either way.  The President has a very high opinion of and friendship for Mr. Lear; and has not the least objection to your forming the connection but, no more than myself, would wish to influence your judgement, either way--yours and the childrens good being among the first wishes of my heart. "


Fanny married Lear in the summer of 1795, but died in March of 1796. After her death, Tobias Lear moved to Washington's River Farm on the Potomac with his own young son & with the 2 children of George Augustine & Fanny Washington, George (1792-1867) & Anna (1788-1816) . Lear married again, this time to the young Frances Dandridge Henley (1779-1856). His new wife was also nicknamed Fanny and was also a niece of Martha Washington.


Martha Washington met and entertained visitors as well. Henry Wansey (1752-1827) wrote in his journal."Friday, June 6 [1794]. Had the honor of an interview with the President of the United States, to whom I was introduced by Mr. Dandridge, his secretary. He received me very politely, and after reading my letters, I was asked to breakfast...
Mrs. Washington herself made the tea and coffee for us. On the table were two small plates of sliced tongue, dry toast, bread and butter, etc., but no broiled fish, as is the general custom. Miss Custis, her grand-daughter, a very pleasing young lady, of about sixteen, sat next to her, and her brother, George Washington Custis, about two years younger than herself. There was little appearance of form: one servant only attended, who had no livery; a silver urn for hot water, was the only article of expense on the table." 1791-2 Archibald Robertson (1765-1835). Martha Washington (1731-1802). 

Charlotte Chambers (1768-1821) daughter of General James Chambers (1743-1805) wrote to her mother Katherine Hamilton Chambers (1737-1820) on February 25, 1795, describing the February 22 birthday celebration for President George Washington where she met the President and his wife.


The morning of the 'twenty-second' was ushered in by the discharge of heavy artillery. The whole city was in commotion, making arrangements to demonstrate their attachment to our beloved President. The Masonic, Cincinnati, and military orders united in doing him honor. Happy republic! great and glorious! . . . Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, with Dr. Spring, called for me in their coach. Dr. Rodman, master of ceremonies, met us at the door, and conducted us to Mrs. Washington. She half arose as we made our passing compliments. She was dressed in a rich silk, but entirely without ornament, except the animation her amiable heart gives to her countenance. Next her were seated the wives of the foreign ambassadors, glittering from the floor to the summit of their head-dress. One of the ladies wore three large ostrich-feathers. Her brow was encircled by a sparkling fillet of diamonds; her neck and arms were almost covered with jewels, and two watches were suspended from her girdle, and all reflecting the light from a hundred directions. Such superabundance of ornament struck me as injudicious; we look too much at the gold and pearls to do justice to the lady. However, it may not be in conformity to their individual taste thus decorating themselves, but to honor the country they represent...The seats were arranged like those of an amphitheatre, and cords were stretched on each side of the room, about three feet from the floor, to. preserve sufficient space for the dancers. We were not long seated when General Washington entered, and bowed to the ladies as he passed round the room.  'He comes, he comes, the hero comes!' I involuntarily but softly exclaimed. When he bowed to me, I could scarcely resist the impulse of my heart, that almost burst through my bosom, to meet him. The dancing soon after commenced... Next morning I received an invitation by my father from Mrs. Washington to visit her, and Col. Hartley politely offered to accompany me to the next drawing-room levee...On this evening...The hall, stairs, and drawing-room of the President’s house were well lighted by lamps and chandeliers. Mrs. Washington, with Mrs. Knox, sat near the fire-place. Other ladies were seated on sofas, and gentlemen stood in the centre of the room conversing. On our approach, Mrs. Washington arose and made a courtesy—the gentlemen bowed most profoundly—and I calculated my declension to her own with critical exactness.


Less than a month later, Charlotte wrote to her mother again on March 11, 1795.  
In a previous letter, I wrote of being at the President’s, and my admiration of Mrs. Washington. Yesterday, Col. Proctor informed me that her carriage was at the door, and a servant inquiring for me. After the usual compliments and some conversation, she gave me a pressing invitation to spend the day with her; and so perfectly friendly were her manners, I found myself irresistibly attached to her. On taking leave, she observed a portrait of the President hanging over the fire-place, and said 'She had never seen a correct likeness of General Washington. The only merit the numerous portraits of him possessed was their resemblance to each other.'

Martha Washington often attended state dinners as the only female in the company. Massachusettes Congressman Theophilus Bradbury (1739-1803) wrote to his daughter Harriet of Christmas Dinner at the Philadelphia President's House in 1795, "In the middle of the table was placed a piece of table furniture of wood gilded, or polished metal, raised only about an inch, with a silver rim round it like that round a tea board; in the centre was a pedestal of plaster of Paris with images upon it, and on each end figures, male and female, of the same. It was very elegant and used for ornament only.  
The dishes were placed all around, and there was an elegant variety of roast beef, veal, turkeys, ducks, fowls, hams &c.; puddings, jellies, oranges, apples, nuts, almonds, figs, raisins, and a variety of wines and punch.  We took our leave at six, more than an hour after the candles were introduced. No lady but Mrs. Washington dined with us.  We were waited on by four or five men servants dressed in livery."

Isaac Weld, Jr. (1774-1856) reported that on the President's birthday in February of 1796, the President received company in the 2 first floor parlors, while Martha Washington received the female guests in the second floor drawing room, On General Washington's birthday, which was a few days ago, this city was unusually gay; every person of consequence in it, Quakers alone excepted, made it a point to visit the General on this day.  
As early as eleven o'clock in the morning he was prepared to receive them, and the audience lasted until three in the afternoon.  The society of the Cincinnati, the clergy, the officers of the militia, and several others, who formed a distinct body of citizens, came by themselves separately.  The foreign ministers attended in their richest dresses and most splendid equipages.  Two large parlours were open for the reception of gentlemen, the windows of one of which towards the street were crowded with spectators on the outside.  The sideboard was furnished with cake and wines, whereof the visitors partook.  I never observed so much cheerfulness before in the countenance of General Washington; but it was impossible for him to remain insensible to the attention and compliments paid to him on this occasion.  The ladies of the city, equally attentive paid their respects to Mrs. Washington, who received them in the drawing-room up stairs. After having visited the General, most of the gentlemen also waited upon her...A public ball and supper terminated the rejoicings of the day.

Robert E. Gray, who had grown up in Philadelphia, remembered that after such state entertaining, the President "always smiled on children! He was particularly popular with small boys...After his great dinners he used to tell the steward to let in the little fellows, and we, the boys of the immediate neighborhood, who were never far off on such occasions, crowded about the table and made quick work of the remaining cakes, nuts and raisins."

Visiting Englishman Thomas Twining (1735-1804), who was accustomed to traveling from one country to the next, was also surprised at the lack of security and the spartan decoration on the interior public rooms at the President's Philadelphia house. "May 13, 1796: [I] was shown into a middling-sized, well-furnished drawing room on the left of the passage. Nearly opposite the door was the fireplace, with a wood-fire in it. The floor was carpeted. On the left of the fireplace was a sofa, which sloped across the room. 
There were no pictures on the walls, no ornaments on the chimneypiece. Two windows on the right of the entrance looked into the street."
1795 Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). Martha Washington (1731-1802). 

Elizabeth Bordley Gibson (1777-1863) was more impressed by Martha Washington's attention to her grandchildren in the midst of her state entertaining obligations, "Mrs. Washington was in the habit of retiring at an early hour to her own room, unless detained by company, and there, no matter what the hour, Nellie attended her.  
One evening, my father's carriage being late in coming for me, my dear friend invited me to accompany her to grandmama's room.  There, after some little chat, Mrs. Washington apologized to me for pursuing her usual preparations for the night, and Nellie entered upon her accustomed duty by reading a chapter and a psalm from the old family Bible, after which all present knelt in evening prayer;  Mrs. Washington's faithful maid then assisted her to disrobe and lay her head upon the pillow; Nellie then sang a verse of some sweetly soothing hymn, and then, leaning down, received her parting blessing for the night, with some emphatic remark on her duties, improvements, etc.  The effect of these judicious habits and teachings appeared in the granddaughter's character through life."

One of those grandchildren, George Washington Parke Custis remembered the formal levees and processessions with joy. "On the great national days of the fourth of July and twenty-second of February, the salute from the then head of Market street (Eighth street) announced the opening of the levee.  
Then was seen the venerable corps of the Cincinnati marching to pay their respects to their president-general, who received them at headquarters and in the uniform of the commander-in-chief.... [Each veteran] gave in no name — he required no ceremony of introduction — but, making his way to the family parlor, opened the general gratulation by the first welcome of Robert Morris.  "A fine volunteer corps, called the light-infantry, from the famed light-infantry of the Revolutionary army, commanded by Lafayette, mounted a guard of honor on the national days.  When it was about to close, the soldiers, headed by their sergeants, marched with trailed arms and noiseless step through the hall to a spot where huge bowls of punch had been prepared for their refreshment, when, after quaffing a deep carouse, with three hearty cheers to the health of the president, they countermarched to the street, the bands struck up the favorite air, "forward" was the word, and the levee was ended."

In a letter to Jared Sparks from Woodlawn in 1833, grandaughter Nelly Custis recalled how Sundays were spent during Washington's presidency and reflected on her grandparent's religious beliefs, In New York and Philadelphia he never omitted attendance at church in the morning, unless detained by indisposition.  The afternoon was spent in his own room at home; the evening with his family, and without company. Sometimes an old and intimate friend called to see us for an hour or two; but visiting and visitors were prohibited for that day [Sunday]. No one in church attended to the services with more reverential respect.  My grandmother, who was eminently pious, never deviated from her early habits. She always knelt. The General, as was then the custom, stood during the devotional parts of the service.  On communion Sundays, he left the church with me, after the blessing, and returned home, and we sent the carriage back for my grandmother...I had the most perfect model of female excellence [Martha Washington] ever with me as my monitress, who acted the part of a tender and devoted parent, loving me as only a mother can love... approving in me what she disapproved of others.  She never omitted her private devotions, or her public duties...She had no doubts, no fears for him. After forty years of devoted affection and uninterrupted happiness, she resigned him without a murmur into the arms of his Savior and his God, with the assured hope of his eternal felicity.


President and Mrs. Washington and the grandchildren, to escape the yellow fever epidemics, spent part of 2 summers (1793 & 1794) in the hills of Germantown, nearly 10 miles from the city. Ironically, the house they stayed in had been headquarters for British General William Howe after the American defeat at the Battle of Germantown.

1793-4. The Washington Family's Temporary Residence in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

George Washington's term as President ended on March 4, 1797. Bishop William White (1748-1836) wrote of the Washington family's final days in Philadelphia, "On the day before his leaving of the Presidential chair a large company dined with him. Among them were the foreign ministers and their ladies, Mr. and Mrs. Adams, Mr. Jefferson, with the other conspicuous persons of both sexes.  
During the dinner much hilarity prevailed; but on the removal of the cloth it was put an end to by the President: certainly without design.  Having filled his glass, he addressed the company, with a smile on his countenance, as nearly as can be recollected in the following terms: 'Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last time I shall drink your health as a public man. I do it with sincerity, and wishing you all possible happiness.' "
1796 Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). Martha Washington (1731-1802). 

Private citizen George Washington, his wife Martha, and their grandchildren returned to Mount Vernon, where they continued to receive visitors on a daily basis, finally and happily relieved of the burden of the office.


Benjamin Latrobe visited the couple at their Virginia home in 1796, writing that Martha Washington, retains strong remains of considerable beauty, seems to enjoy very good health, & to have as good humor. She has no affectation of superiority in the slightest degree, but acts completely in the character of the mistress of the house of a respectable and opulent country gentleman.

1796 James Peale ( 1749-1831). Martha Washington (1731-1802).

Sunday, April 19, 2020

1757 American Mother & Child

1757 John Hesselius Mrs Matthew Tiglman Anna Lloyd & dau Anna Maria (Mrs. Matthew Tiglman.)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Baptists in the 17C & 18C Carolinas - Hundreds of Converts

Paul Revere Print of Submersion Baptism

The Palmer Movement of Southern Free Will Baptists, 
1685-1865

Southern Free Will Baptists have generally traced their ancestry back to the ministry of Paul Palmer, who in 1727 established the first known Free Will Baptist church in America in Chowan County, North Carolina.  Very little is known about Palmer except that he organized North Carolina's 1st Baptist Church in 1727 in what is now Shiloh. A loose network of Baptist churches spread throughout North Carolina, numbering some 40 churches by the time of the American Revolution. In 1812, these mostly Southern churches organized into the Free Will Baptists, so called because of their belief that Jesus died so that all people, not just the elect, might come to salvation. Thus the organization of the Free Will Baptists marks an important moment in the evolution of Baptist theology which, up until then, had been strongly Calvinist.

The Earliest General Baptists in North Carolina
America’s first Free Will Baptists were called, like their English brethren, General Baptists. General stood for “general atonement,” their strong belief in the universality of the atonement—that Christ died for all men—& its attending doctrines. Both the General Baptists in England & America were nicknamed “Freewillers,” & the name caught on & began to be officially used by southern Free Will Baptists in the late 1700s. Though there were Baptists in North Carolina as early as 1685, the 1st organized church was not begun until around 1727, under the ministry of Paul Palmer. Palmer married into an English General Baptist family. Palmer’s father-in-law, Benjamin Laker, had been an active General Baptist layman who had apparently established an informal gathering of General Baptists in the Perquimans Precinct of North Carolina.

Benjamin Laker
Laker had emigrated to Carolina from England, where he had been an active General Baptist who signed the 1663 edition of the 1660 English General Baptist Confession of Faith. In North Carolina, Laker, deputy to one of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, member of the governor's Council, judge, and Baptist leader, was in 1664 a resident of Betchworth Parish, Surrey County, England, and a member of the family of that name living in southern Surrey County in the vicinity of the towns of Guildford, Dorking, and Reigate. As a  local political leader & prosperous farmer, Laker had lived in Perquimans as early as 1685. It is known from Laker’s will that he owned many English General Baptist books. Among the books he left in his will was a book called Christianismus Primitivus. This was the standard doctrinal text for the English General Baptists & was written by Thomas Grantham, the foremost leader of the English General Baptists in the 1600s.

Grantham’s book outlined the doctrine of the English General Baptists, who taught, among other things, that Christ died for the sins of all mankind; that, though the sin of Adam had been imputed to man, he could be set free & saved by the righteousness of Jesus Christ which could be obtained by faith alone; that a saved person could renounce his faith in Christ & hence come out of union with Christ, never to be redeemed again; that believer’s baptism was the only way to constitute a local church; that local churches should be self-governing; that God granted everyone liberty of conscience, & thus the king should allow every individual the freedom to practice his religion without fear of persecution & that individual Christians had the right to be involved in government & to keep & bear arms for the protection of family & freedom. These doctrines had been stated in the 1660 English General Baptist Confession of Faith, which was used by Laker & Palmer, & in turn the Southern Free Will Baptists until 1812, when it was condensed into the 1812 Former Articles.

There seem to be no records to support the presence of an organized General Baptist church in North Carolina before 1727 [the year Palmer’s church was organized], but Laker’s important social & political status would have given him a unique opportunity to spread his General Baptist faith. When Paul Palmer began to preach in 1726, he found an eager audience for his General Baptist doctrine. Baptist churches in North Carolina before 1755 were of the General Baptist persuasion. 

Paul Palmer & His Followers
Little is known about the early life of Paul Palmer.  In the late spring of 1717, Palmer was living in York County, Virginia, but soon moved to North Carolina. In March 1719, Palmer married a 33-year-old woman, who was already twice widowed, Joanna Taylor Jeffreys Peterson. Mrs. Peterson was a woman of some prominence, the step-daughter of the General Baptist Benjamin Lake. By 1720, Laker had settled in Perquimans Precinct, where by 1729, he had an estate of 964 acres. Palmer became a respected landowner & political figure in Perquimans Precinct. When he arrived in Carolina in 1719, he joined the local Quaker meeting. However, he remained a Quaker only until 1722, when he asked for a certificate of dismissal from the meeting. His influence allowed him a hearing to proclaim his General Baptist doctrine, & he began evangelistic work in 1726. In 1727, he established a General Baptist Church in Chowan County.

By October, 1729, a 2nd congregation had been started & a young man named William Burgess was ordained to lead it. That same month, North Carolina's governor complained to the Anglican bishop of London about Palmer’s nefarious activities. Palmer, he said, was holding daily meetings & making hundreds of converts all over the area. As a result of Palmer’s activity the Baptists were flourishing. The governor pleaded that he was powerless to prevent this tide of religious enthusiasm which was sweeping the province as a result of Palmer’s preaching.

A few early followers were to be of great importance to the young American Free Will Baptist movement. William Sojourner, Josiah Hart, & Joseph Parker were instrumental in establishing & pastoring the first few churches. Sojourner (also spelled “Surginer”) was an English General Baptist from Virginia who moved to North Carolina in 1742, & became involved in the Palmer work. Hart, a physician, was greatly influenced by Sojourner & became a successful evangelist for the early Free Will Baptists, planting churches in Craven & Beaufort counties in North Carolina. 

Joseph Parker was born into a General Baptist family in 1705. In 1730, Parker & his wife, Sarah, went into Indian Territory in North Carolina to establish General Baptist works. These early ministers & their followers labored at a time when it was difficult to be a Baptist dissenter from the Anglican (Episcopal) Church, the established church. 

Their work was made easier by the Act of Toleration. A 1738 court document states: Permission is hereby granted to Paul Palmer of Edenton, a Protestant minister, to teach or preach the Word of God in any part of the said province (he having qualified himself as such) pursuant to an Act of Parliament made in the first year of King William & Queen Mary entitled an “Act of Tolerating Protestant Dissenters.”

In a span of 25 years, these men established 20 or more General Baptist churches, & the movement grew rapidly. Palmer eventually learned of other Free Will Baptist churches beyond North Carolina & Virginia, & determined to avail himself of them. He decided to visit the New England churches in person. He seems to have visited churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, & Rhode Island. Upon his return, he visited churches in New Jersey & perhaps Virginia & Maryland too.

The Coming of the Calvinists
This growth, however, would not last long. In the 1750s, the Calvinists intruded. The Particular (Calvinistic) Baptists, also called “New Lights,” felt that the General Baptists needed reforming, which basically meant that they needed to be converted from Arminianism to Calvinism. These Calvinistic Baptists criticized the Free Will Baptists for not requiring what they called an “experience of grace” as a basis for baptism & church membership. What they meant by this was not simply conversion or a personal experience of the grace of God in one’s life, but rather a “long & often ridiculous account of how one came to know he was elected to grace & was one of the sheep.” The General Baptists, on the other hand, simply required repentance & faith in Christ as the only requirement for baptism & membership in the church. In addition to this, the Calvinists claimed that the General Baptist churches were worldly & lax in their discipline. There is no way, however, to know whether this was the case or not. Old-fashioned strict Calvinists held such a low view of Arminianism that they tended to associate it with heresy or unorthodox doctrine.

Thus the Calvinistic Particular Baptists took it upon themselves to raid these early General Baptists & attempt to proselytize as many of the ministers & members to Calvinism as they could. While they were successful in converting a good many of the ministers to Calvinism, they had less success with the actual members of these early Free Will Baptist churches. A case in point is the Pasquotank Church, which had around 200 members before it was reorganized as a Calvinist Baptist church & only 12 members after.