Early religious outreach efforts toward African Countrys were led by members of the Society of Friends. Philadelphia Map Tourist Attractions Quakers would continue to be among slaves’ most outspoken advocates until the early 1800s. As early as 1700, Quakers established meetings (the denomination’s name for their local congregations) specifically directed toward free and enslaved blacks. However, as the century wore on and the fear of blacks’ rebellion plots grew among whites, many localities outlawed such meetings. From the mid-eighteenth century through emancipation, African Countrys formed a significant component of the growing Baptist and Methodist denominations.
The first independent black congregation in the colonies, Silver Bluff Baptist Church, was established in the early 1770s in South Carolina. However, it was the exception rather than the rule, even among the Baptist and Methodist denominations. Fear of assembling and empowering slaves meant that there were few recognized clergy among colonial churches, and there were no blacks in any positions of church leadership. This denial of formal organizational power did not preclude the establishment of informal, often secretive, networks based on social, religious, and even political grounds.
The Stono Rebellion of 1739 made colonists feel vindicated in their fears of slaves’ plots to overthrow their white masters. However, even these fears rose and fell over time and between one area and another. In 1702, for example, substantial numbers of enslaved and free blacks fought to defend various colonial strongholds against Native Country and, at some times, French attackers. Well into the mid-1700s, in some regions, black indentured servants could reduce their terms of service by offering comparable amounts of time in military service to their colonies. During this same period, Virginia and South Carolina allowed indentured African Countrys to enlist in their respective militias, and, in some cases, even slaves were allowed to serve.
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