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Becoming African in AmericaRace and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic, 1760-1830$
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James Sidbury

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320107.001.0001

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An African Homeland?

An African Homeland?

African Institutions and Emigration in the 1780s and 1790s

(p.67) 3 An African Homeland?
Becoming African in America

James Sidbury (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the rise of the African Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia, one of the early churches to describe itself as “African”, and the progenitor of black Baptist churches in Canada, Sierra Leone, and much of the British Caribbean. The chapter then considers two institutions founded by black New Englanders at roughly the same time — African Freemasonry and the African Union Societies of Newport and Providence, Rhode Island — and traces their distinct but parallel efforts to build “African” institutions and identities. Leaders of these institutions sought to reconcile their deep faith in a Christian God with the prevalence of “paganism” in Africa, reaching toward a belief that American slavery represented God's plan for bringing the light of true religion to the Dark Continent. This conviction gave all three groups a shared stake in the efforts of those Black Loyalists who would move to Sierra Leone in 1792.

Keywords:   African Baptist Church, Baptist churches, African Freemasonry Society, African Union Society, African identity

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