restricted access Chapter One. A Nation Born in a Day

This chapter describes black southerners' experience of emancipation and the theological meanings they gave the event. Emancipation was the key moment in black Protestants' understanding of God's plan for history. The chapter follows closely one Methodist congregation in Wilmington, North Carolina, as Union troops occupied the city. Black worshippers sought religious independence and flouted rules of racial submission. The chapter argues that antebellum black southerners prophesied the coming of emancipation. Some saw emancipation as the beginning of a millenial age of church growth. They interpreted freedom in different ways, using different biblical narratives. Those differences appeared as political divisions in North Carolina's 1865 Freedmen's Convention. Every year thereafter, black southerners commemorated the anniversary of emancipation, ensuring that its theological importance waxed rather than waned over time.


Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Southern States -- Religion.
  • African Americans -- Southern States -- History.
  • African Americans -- Southern States -- Social conditions.
  • Freedmen -- Southern States -- Social conditions.
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877).
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