5: The Second Year in Georgia
<< 4: Reinforcements || 6: Disintegration >>
The English Clergymen.
The same day that Bishop Nitschmann left Savannah, John Wesley moved into
the parsonage which had just been vacated by his predecessor, Mr. Quincy.
A week earlier he had entered upon his ministry at Savannah,
being met by so large and attentive an audience that he was much encouraged,
and began with zeal to perform his pastoral duties. He was the third Rector
of the Savannah Parish, the Rev. Henry Herbert having been the first,
and he preached in a rude chapel built on the lot reserved
for a house of worship in the original plan of Savannah,—the site of the present Christ Church.
The first word of discouragement was brought by Ingham,
who returned from Frederica on April 10th, with a message from Charles Wesley
begging his brother to come to his relief. He told a woeful story
of persecution by the settlers, and injustice from Oglethorpe
to Charles Wesley, all undeserved, as Oglethorpe freely admitted
when he threw off the weight of suspicion laid upon his mind
by malicious slanderers, and sought an interview with his young secretary,
in which much was explained and forgiven. But poor Charles
was in great straits when he sent Ingham to Savannah,
sick, slighted, and abused, deprived even of the necessaries of life,
and so cast down that on one occasion he exclaimed, "Thanks be to God,
it is not yet made a capital offence to give me a morsel of bread!"
Wesley obeyed the summons, taking Delamotte with him,
Ingham caring for the Church and Delamotte's school during their absence.
There were poor school facilities in Savannah prior to Delamotte's arrival,
and he at once saw the need, and devoted himself to it.
Delamotte seems to have been a quiet man, who took little share
in the aggressive work of his companions, and consequently escaped the abuse
which was heaped upon them.
On April 22nd, Ingham sent an invitation to Tőltschig to visit him,
and this was the beginning of a close personal friendship
which lasted for the rest of their lives, and of such a constant intercourse
between Ingham and the Moravian Church, that he is often supposed
to have become a member of it, though he really never severed his connection
with the Church of England. Tőltschig speaks of him as "a very young man,
about 24 or 25 years of age, who has many good impulses in his soul,
and is much awakened." He had come to Georgia for the sole purpose
of bearing the Gospel message to the Indians, and it was through him
that the Moravians were finally able to begin their missionary work.
When Wesley and Delamotte returned from Frederica,
the former resumed his association with the Moravians,
continuing to join in their Sunday evening service,
and translating some of their hymns into English.
In May two questions were asked of Tőltschig, upon the answering of which
there depended more than any one imagined. The Diary says,—"The 20th,
was Sunday. —Mr. Ingham asked if we could not recognize and receive him
as our brother; to which I replied, that he did not know us well enough,
nor we him, we must first understand each other better. On the 21st,
Mr. Wesley spoke with me, and asked me the selfsame question.
I said to him that we had seen much of him day by day,
and that it was true that he loved us and we loved him,
but that we did not so quickly admit any one into our Congregation."
Then at his request Tőltschig outlined the Moravian view of conversion,
and the requisites for church-membership.
A few days later Charles Wesley unexpectedly returned from Frederica,
and Oglethorpe sent word that either John Wesley or Ingham should come down
in his place. The latter was by no means anxious to go,—his former experience had not been agreeable, but the reason
he gave the Moravians was that a number of Indian traders
were soon to visit Savannah, and he was very anxious to see them.
They advised him to be guided by John Wesley's wish, which he agreed to do,
and then found that Wesley had decided to go himself.
During the weeks that followed, Ingham and Charles Wesley
were frequently with Tőltschig, who answered as best he could
their many questions regarding the history of the Moravian Episcopate,
a matter of vital importance to a strict member of the Church of England
who was thinking of allying himself with them. Everything they heard
confirmed Ingham in his intention, and when John Wesley returned in July
he and Ingham again made application "to be received as brethren
in our Congregation, and to go with us to the Lord's Table.
We entirely refused to admit them into the Congregation, and I (Tőltschig)
gave them the reasons therefor: (1) That we did not know them well enough;
(2) and that they perhaps did not know us well enough, both things which we
considered highly important; and (3) that their circumstances and situation
were such that it would be difficult if not impossible for them
to comply with the requirements of such admission." The promises expected
from a Confirmand,—to which they also must have bound themselves,—are thus summarized. "To give body and soul to the Lord now and forever;
to devote and dedicate himself to the service of the Unity,
according to the grace and gifts bestowed on him by the Saviour;
and willingly to submit to the discipline and regulations
which the Unity has established for the welfare and improvement of souls."
Could these two men, in the zeal and vigor of their youth,
honestly have made these promises, the Moravian Church
would have gained two invaluable co-workers, but they seem to have accepted
Tőltschig's argument as conclusive, and dropped the matter,
with no ill-will or disturbance of the existing pleasant relations.
Concerning the Communion "we assured them that we loved them,
and would welcome them as honored guests at the Lord's Supper,
for we believed that they loved the Lord." This invitation, however,
the young clergymen would not accept.
On the 6th of August, Charles Wesley left for England,
bearing dispatches to the Trustees, and with the hope of interesting others
in the evangelizing of the Indians. He meant himself to return to Georgia,
but feeble health prevented, and he resigned his office
as Secretary to Gen. Oglethorpe the following May. His brother John
accompanied him to Charlestown, and then went to Frederica
to deliver certain letters to Gen. Oglethorpe. He found
there was "less and less prospect of doing good at Frederica,
many there being extremely zealous, and indefatigably diligent to prevent it,"
his opposers even attempting personal violence. One "lady"
tried to shoot him, and when he seized her hands and took away her pistol,
she maliciously bit a great piece out of his arm. Still he made
two more visits to the place, and then in "utter despair of doing good there,"
took his final leave of Frederica.
Work Among the Indians.
When the Moravians adopted the conversion of the Indians
as their main object for settling in America, they were greatly influenced by
the attractive descriptions of the "wild people" which were being published.
In a "Report", ascribed to Gen. Oglethorpe, it is stated
that "nothing is lacking for their conversion to the Christian faith
except a knowledge of their language, for they already have
an admirable conception of `morals', and their conduct
agrees perfectly therewith. They have a horror of adultery,
and disapprove of polygamy. Thieving is unknown to them.
Murder is considered an abominable crime, and no one may be killed except
an enemy, when they esteem it a virtue." This, like too many a description
written then and now to exploit a colonizing scheme,
was far too good to be true. The Indians proved apt learners,
but of the vices rather than the virtues of the English,
and drunkenness with all its attendant evils, was quickly introduced.
Afraid of their dusky neighbors, anxious to keep on good terms with them,
distrusting their loyalty to the English under the bribes offered
by French and Spanish, the Government tried to limit
the intercourse between the Indians and the settlers as much as possible,
treating the former as honored guests whenever they came to Savannah,
but forbidding the latter to go to them without special permit
in times of peace, and not at all in time of war.
When the Moravians came the restlessness which presaged war
was stirring among the tribes, becoming more and more pronounced,
and one of the Indian Chiefs said frankly, "Now our enemies are all about us,
and we can do nothing but fight, but if the Beloved Ones should ever give us
to be at peace, then we would hear the Great Word."
Tomochichi, indeed, bade the missionaries welcome, and promised to do
all in his power to gain admission for them into all parts of his nation,
but the time was not ripe, nor was his influence equal to his good-will.
Though called a "king", he was only chief of a small tribe
living some four or five miles from Savannah, part of the Creek Confederacy,
which was composed of a number of remnants, gradually merged
into one "nation". The "Upper Creeks" lived about the head waters
of the creeks from which they took their name, and the "Lower Creeks",
including Tomochichi's people, were nearer the sea-coast. Ingham,
whose heart was set on the Indian work, was at first very anxious to go
to the Cherokees, who lived near the mountains, at a considerable distance
from Savannah, having been told that they had a desire
to hear the "Great Word". On April 22nd, he spoke of his wish to Tőltschig,
inviting Seifert and, if they chose, another Moravian to join him in the work.
It was the best opportunity that had yet offered, and Seifert wanted
to go to the Indians, having already studied their language as best he could,
but they hesitated to undertake the work conjointly with Ingham.
After some time the Cherokee plan was abandoned. Oglethorpe objected
on account of the danger that they would be intercepted and killed,
it being a fourteen day land journey to reach the Cherokee country,
and he positively refused to let John Wesley go because
that would leave Savannah without a minister. Tőltschig says
Wesley's interest in the Indian work failed, and another writer says
he gave up the work because he could not learn the Indian language,
but Wesley lays all the blame on Oglethorpe.
In January, 1737, the question of going to the Upper Creeks
was submitted to the "lot", and the Moravians were bidden
to wait for another opening. Meanwhile an actual beginning had been made
among the Lower Creeks. On the 7th of May, Ingham and John Wesley
went up the river to the home of Mrs. Musgrove, the half-breed woman
who at this time was of such great use as interpreter and mediator
between the Indians and the English. Arrangements were made
by which Ingham should spend three days of each week with her,
teaching her children to read in exchange for instruction
in the Indian language. The other three or four days were to be spent
in Savannah, communicating to Wesley the knowledge he had acquired,
Anton Seifert sharing in the lessons.
On the 19th of June, the Moravians held a meeting to determine
whether the time had come for them to take up the Indian work in earnest.
The "lot" was appealed to, and the answer being that the language
should be learned, Seifert, George Neisser and John Boehner were appointed
to make diligent use of Ingham's instructions. The frequent visits
of Tomochichi and his people to Savannah gave them an opportunity
to practice speaking, for the Moravian house was always open to the red men,
and food and drink were theirs at any time of day, a fact of which
the visitors were not slow to take advantage.
The "lot" had so great an influence on the progress of affairs
in the Moravian Congregation at Savannah from this time on
that it is necessary to understand how the institution was regarded.
The use of the lot was common in Old Testament days;
and in the New Testament it is recorded that when an apostle was to be chosen
to take the place of the traitor, Judas, the lot decided between two men
who had been selected as in every way suited for the place.
Following this example the members of the ancient Unitas Fratrum used the lot
in the selection of their first ministers, and the Renewed Church did the same
when the first elders were elected at Herrnhut in 1727.
It was no uncommon practice in Germany, where many persons
who desired special guidance resorted to it more or less freely,
and Count Zinzendorf, among the rest, had used it from his youth up.
Gradually it came into general use among the Moravians,
and at a later period in their history had its definite place
in their system of government, though the outside public
never fully understood it, and still holds erroneous views,
despite the plain statements that have been made. By degrees
its use became more and more restricted, and has been long since
In its perfection the lot was simply this,—human intellect solving
a problem so far as earnest study and careful deliberation could go, and then,
if the issue was still in doubt, a direct appeal for Divine guidance,
in perfect faith that the Lord would plainly answer his servants,
who were seeking to do his will. This standard was not always maintained,
but the leaders of the Moravian Congregation in Savannah
had the early, absolute, belief that God spoke to them through the lot,
and felt themselves bound to implicit obedience to its dictates.
Their custom was to write two words or sentences on separate slips,
representing the two possible answers to their question,
and after earnest prayer to draw one slip, and then act accordingly.
Sometimes a third slip, a blank, was added, and if that was drawn
it signified that no action should be taken until another time,
and after further consideration.
Some time in July, Peter Rose and his wife, (the widow Riedel) went to live
among the Lower Creeks, giving all their time to learning the language,
and teaching what they could about religion.
On August 9th, Mr. Ingham went to the Moravians with a new plan.
Gen. Oglethorpe had agreed to build a schoolhouse for Indian children,
near Tomochichi's village, with the idea that it would give opportunity
also to reach the older men and women with the Gospel message.
The house was to contain three rooms, one for Ingham,
one for the Moravian missionaries, and one to be used for the school,
and it was suggested that the Moravians undertake the erection
of the building, the Trustees' fund to pay them for their labor.
The proposition was gladly accepted, and preparations were at once made
to send the necessary workmen.
On Monday, the 13th, Tőltschig and five others went to the spot
which had been selected for the Indian Schoolhouse, usually called `Irene'.
The site of this schoolhouse has been considered uncertain,
but a short manuscript account of "the Mission among the Indians in America",
preserved in the Herrnhut Archives, says distinctly that it stood
"a mile above the town (of Savannah) on an island in the Savannah River
which was occupied by the Creeks."
When the carpenters arrived the first act was to unite in prayer
for a blessing on their work, and then they began to fell trees
and cut down bushes, clearing the ground for the hut
in which they were to live while building the schoolhouse.
The hut was placed on the grave of an Indian chief.
"The Indians are accustomed to bury their chiefs on the spot where they died,
to heap a mound some 24 feet high above them, to mourn them for a while,
and then to abandon the spot," and this little elevation was a favorable site
for their hut. Until the hut was finished the men lodged with the Indians,
Tomochichi himself taking charge of their belongings.
Tőltschig returned the same day to Savannah, going back later
with a supply of provisions. The Indians made them heartily welcome
to their neighborhood, and the Moravians, even in the midst
of their building operations, began to teach them the English alphabet,
at the same time putting forth every effort to learn the Indian tongue,
in which Rose was rapidly becoming proficient.
By the 20th of September the schoolhouse was finished,
and Ingham and the Moravians held a conference to plan the future work,
and decide what duties each should assume, as he proposed
to move thither at once, and, with the approval of the lot,
Rose and his wife were to do the same. Morning and evening
they were to read the English Bible, accompanied by silent prayer;
morning, mid-day and evening an hour was to be given to the study
of the Indian language; and Rose and his wife were to have an hour
for their private devotions. Mrs. Rose was to teach the Indian girls to read,
and the boys, who had already begun to read, were to be taught to write.
In their remaining time they were to clear and plant some land,
that they might not be too long dependent on the Congregation at Savannah,
and on the friendly Indians, who were giving them much.
The next day Mr. and Mrs. Tőltschig escorted Rose and his wife
to their new home, and at Ingham's request united with them
in a little prayer service. Four days later fourteen of the Moravians
went to the schoolhouse, which was solemnly consecrated by Seifert,
the Chief Elder. That evening, in Savannah, Rose and his wife
were formally set apart for their missionary work, and the next day
they returned to "Irene", as the school was called,
to enter upon their duties.
At first everything was encouraging. The children learned readily,
not only to read but some to write; they committed to memory
many passages of Scripture, and took special delight in the hymns
they were taught to sing.
The older Indians looked on with wonder and approval,
which stimulated the missionaries to new zeal in mastering the language,
and in taking every opportunity to make the "Great Word" known to them.
Zinzendorf wrote a letter from Herrnhut to Tomochichi, commending his interest
in their message, and urging its full acceptance upon him;
the Indians gave some five acres of land for a garden,
which Rose cleared and planted, and everything looked promising,
until the influence of the Spanish war rumor was felt.
True to their nature, the fighting spirit of the Indians rose within them,
and they took the war-path against the Spanish, for the sake
of their English allies, and perhaps more for the pure love of strife.
Then Ingham decided to go to England for reinforcements, and Rose was left
in charge of the work. He seems to have been a well-meaning man,
and much beloved by the Indians, but he was not a man of much mental strength
or executive ability, and the Congregation at Savannah soon decided
that he and his wife should be recalled until the way opened
for one or more of the others to go back to Irene with him.
In their personal affairs the Moravians were experiencing
the usual mingling of light and shadow.
Dober's effort to make pottery was a failure, for lack of proper clay,
but through Gen. Oglethorpe's kindness a good deal of carpenter's work
was given to them. They built a house for Tomochichi at his village,
and a house in Savannah, both in the style of the Moravian house,
and another town house in English fashion, as well as the Indian school,
a large share of their wages being applied on account,
so that their debt was gradually reduced, and their credit sustained.
Their manner of living remained very simple. Morning and evening prayers
began and ended their days of toil, the company being divided,
part living at the garden, and part in town during the week,
all gathering in the town-house for Sunday's rest and worship.
When the weather was very warm the morning Bible reading was postponed
until the noon hour, that advantage might be taken of the cooler air
for active labor. Once a month a general conference was held
on Saturday evening, with others as needed, so that all might do the work
for which they were best fitted, and which was most necessary at the time.
"Who worked much gave much, who worked less gave less, who did not work
because he was sick or weak gave nothing into the common fund;
but when they needed food, or drink, or clothing, or other necessary thing,
one was as another."
On the 3rd of April, Matthias Seybold asked to be received
into the communicant Congregation, which was done on the 5th of May,
and he shared in the Lord's Supper for the first time June 3rd.
John Boehner also was confirmed on January 12th of the following year.
On the 11th of November two little girls, Anna and Comfort,
were added to their household. The mother had recently died,
and the father offered to pay the Moravians for taking care of them,
but they preferred to have them bound, so they could not be taken away
just when they had begun to learn, and so it was arranged. On the 28th,
a man from Ebenezer brought his son, and apprenticed him to Tanneberger,
The dark side of the picture arose from two causes, ill health,
and matrimonial affairs. There was a great deal of sickness
throughout Georgia that summer, and the second company became acclimated
through the same distressing process that the first had found so hard to bear.
Mrs. Dober, Mrs. Waschke, Mrs. Tőltschig, Gottlieb Demuth, John Boehner
and others were sick at various times, and David Jag cut his foot so severely
that he was unable to use it for four months. Nor was this the worst,
for three more of their number died. Roscher was sick
when he reached Savannah, with consumption, it was supposed,
but Regnier suspected that this was not all, and when Roscher died,
March 30th, he secured permission to make an autopsy,
in which he was assisted by John Wesley. The examination showed
a large hematoma in the left wall of the abdomen, and other complications.
The records say, "we have no cause to grieve over his departure,
for he was a good soul," and died in peace.
The next to pass away was Mrs. Haberecht. Her health began to fail
the latter part of March, but she did not become seriously ill
until the 26th of May, when she returned from the farm, where she and others
had been employed, and told her friends that the Saviour had called her,
and her end was near. With joy and peace she waited for the summons,
which was delayed for some time, though on several occasions
her death seemed only a matter of hours. On the 16th of June
she shared with the others in the celebration of the Communion,
and on the following evening "went to the Saviour".
Matthias Boehnisch's illness was of short duration,
lasting only from the 27th of September to the 3rd of October.
He had had a severe fall on the ship coming over, from which
he continued to suffer, and now a hard blow on the chest injured him mortally.
Some of his companions found it hard to understand why he should be taken,
for he was a good man, who gave promise of much usefulness
in the Lord's service. It is an old question, often asked
and never fully answered, but Boehnisch, conscious almost to the last,
was perfectly willing to go, and his associates felt that the influence
of his life "would be a seed, which would bear fruit" in others.
It was a serious mistake that sent Juliana Jäschke to Savannah
with the second company. A seamstress was badly needed,
and had she been so minded she might have been very useful,
but in a list giving very briefly the standing of each one in the "Society",
it is curtly stated that she was "ill-mannered, and obstructing everything."
Soon after her arrival it was suggested that she marry Peter Rose,
but the lot forbade and he found a much better helpmeet in the widow
of Friedrich Riedel. Waschke thought he would like to marry Juliana,
but she refused, even though Bishop Nitschmann, Mr. and Mrs. Tőltschig
pled with her. Her preference was for George Haberland,
and the result was an uncomfortable state of affairs,
which disturbed the leaders of the "Society" not a little,
for living as they did as one large family it meant constant friction
on all sides. They did not know whether to force Juliana
to submit to their authority, (as a member of the "Society"
she had pledged herself to obedience to the duly elected officers),
or whether they should wait and hope for a better frame of mind. At last
they referred it to the lot, which read "Juliana shall not marry any one yet."
This settled the question for the time being, but did not improve the spirit
of the parties concerned. A few of the others were homesick,
and lost interest in their work and the cause for which they had come over.
Hermsdorf returned from Frederica, sick and depressed,
and was kindly received by the Moravians in Savannah,
though their first favorable impression of him had been lost
on the voyage across the Atlantic, when he complained of the fare,
and lay in bed most of the time.
The leaders of the party, trying to pacify the discontented, comfort the sick,
and strengthen those that were left as one and another was called away;
planning the daily routine to the best advantage so that they might repay
their debt, and still have the necessaries of life for their large company;
seeking to teach and convert the Indians, and help the poor about them; —
these leaders were further tried by the non-arrival of answers to the letters
sent to Germany. Feeling that they must know the will of those at home
if they were to be able successfully to continue their work,
they at last decided to send a messenger to Count Zinzendorf,
and the lot designated Andrew Dober.
A ship was lying at anchor, ready to take Gen. Oglethorpe to England,
and he readily agreed to take Dober and wife with him, and on December 2nd,
they embarked, Dober carrying a number of letters and papers.
Mrs. Dober was quite ill when they left, but rapidly improved
in the sea breezes. January 20th, the ship reached London,
and Mr. and Mrs. Dober went at once to Mr. Weintraube,
who was to forward the letters to Herrnhut. As they were talking
Bishop Nitschmann walked in, to their mutual great astonishment.
He reported that Count Zinzendorf had just arrived in London,
and had sent to inquire for letters, so those brought from Georgia
were at once delivered. Zinzendorf rented a house,
the Countess arrived a few days later, and Dober and wife
remained in his service during the seven weeks of his stay.
The Count's object in visiting London at this time was fourfold:
to confer with the Georgia Trustees about the Moravians in Savannah;
to extend acquaintances among the Germans in London and do religious work
among them; to discuss the Episcopate of the Unitas Fratrum
with Archbishop Potter of Canterbury; and if possible
to revive the "Order of the Mustard Seed". This order had been established
by Zinzendorf and several companions in their early boyhood,
and grew with their growth, numbering many famous men in its ranks,
and it is worthy of note that even in its boyish form it contained the germs
of that zeal for missions which was such a dominant feature
of the Count's manhood.
Archbishop Potter not only fully acknowledged the validity
of the Unity's Episcopate, but urged Zinzendorf himself to accept consecration
at the hands of Jablonski and David Nitschmann, and encouraged by him
Zinzendorf was consecrated bishop at Berlin, May 20th, 1737.
The Count held frequent services during his stay in London,
and before he left a society of ten members had been formed among the Germans,
with a few simple regulations, their object being "in simplicity
to look to these three things:— to be saved by the blood of Christ;
to become holy, or be sanctified by the blood of Christ;
to love one another heartily."
With the Trustees it was agreed: "That the Count's men"
might remain for two years longer at Savannah, without cultivating
the five hundred acre tract, "and be exempt from all forfeitures
arising from such non-cultivation;" but if they chose
they might move to the tract any time during the two years.
They might go to Tomochichi's Indians whenever they saw fit and he consented.
Other Indians could not be visited in time of war, but in peace
four Moravians should be licensed to go to them, on the same footing
as the English ministers. Those living with Tomochichi were not included
in this number. "As the Moravian Church is believed to be orthodox
and apostolic" no one should interfere with their preaching the Gospel,
or prevent the Indians from attending their services in Savannah,
or elsewhere. The title to their five hundred acre tract was secured
to the Moravians, even in case the Count's male line should become extinct.
Reference to military service is conspicuous by its absence,
and at the very time that these resolutions were being framed,
assurance on that one point was being desperately needed in Savannah.
Rumors of War.
In February, 1737, that which Spangenberg had feared came upon the Moravians,—military service was peremptorily demanded of them,
the occasion being a fresh alarm of Spanish incursions.
The feud between the colonists of Spain and England was of long standing,
dating back to rival claims to the New World by right of discovery.
The English asserted that through the Cabots they had a right to the greater
part of North America, and a grant to the Lords Proprietors of Carolina,
in 1663, named the 31 degree of latitude as the southern boundary.
Another patent two years later set the line at the 29 degree,
but that availed nothing as it included the northern part of Florida,
where the Spanish were already settled in considerable numbers.
No other nation questioned the English claim to the sea-board
as far as the 31 degree, which was well south of the Altamaha,
but the Spanish greatly resented the settlements in Carolina,
as encroaching on their territory, though successive treaties
between the two Governments had virtually acknowledged the English rights.
With the two nations nominally at peace, the Spanish incited the Indians
to deeds of violence, encouraged insurrection among the negro slaves,
welcomed those who ran away, and enlisted them in their army.
Now and then the Governor of Carolina would send a force,
which would subdue them for a time, but the constant uncertainty
made Carolina welcome the Georgia colony as a protection to her borders.
The settlement of Georgia gave further offense to Spain,
and her subjects in Florida burned to exterminate the intruders,
as they considered them, though nothing was done so long as operations
were confined to the Savannah River. But when towns and forts
were planned and begun on the Altamaha their opposition became more outspoken.
Oglethorpe did all he could to preserve peace without retreating
from his position, and in Oct. 1736, he concluded a treaty
with the Governor of St. Augustine.
Only too soon it became apparent that this treaty would not be respected,
for the Captain-General of Cuba disapproved, and Oglethorpe sailed
for England, in November, to urge the immediate and sufficient fortification
of the frontier. The Trustees and the Government approved of the course
he had pursued, but Spain recalled and executed the Governor of St. Augustine,
for presuming to make such a treaty, and so plainly showed her intention
to make war on Georgia that the English Government authorized Oglethorpe
to raise a regiment for service there, and in July, 1738,
he sailed for America, commissioned to take command of all the military forces
of Carolina and Georgia, and protect the colonies.
During the nineteen months of his absence, the Georgia colonists
were in a continual state of uneasiness, which now and then became sheer panic
at some especially plausible report of imminent danger.
On February 17th, 1737, Mr. Causton received a letter from Charlestown,
in which the Governor informed him that he had news of the approach
of the Spaniards, and Savannah at once became excited,
and prepared for defence. On the 20th, officers went through the town,
taking the names of all who could bear arms, freeholders and servants alike.
Three of them came to the Moravian house and requested names from Tőltschig.
He answered "there was no one among them who could bear arms,
and he would get no names from them." They said, "it was remarkable
that in a house full of strong men none could bear arms,—he should hurry and give them the names, they could not wait."
Tőltschig answered, "if they wanted to go no one would stop them,
there would be no names given." They threatened to tell Mr. Causton,
Tőltschig approved, and said he would do the same,
and they angrily left the house.
Ingham accompanied Tőltschig to Mr. Causton, who at once began
to argue the matter, and a spirited debate ensued, of which the following
is a resume.
Causton. "Everybody must go to the war and fight for his own safety,
and if you will not join the army the townspeople will burn down your house,
and will kill you all."
Tőltschig. "That may happen, but we can not help it,
it is against our conscience to fight."
Causton. "If you do not mean to fight you had better go and hide
in the woods, out of sight of the people, or it will be the worse for you;
and you had better go before the enemy comes, for then it will be
too late to escape, the townspeople will certainly kill you."
Tőltschig. "You forget that Gen. Oglethorpe promised us
exemption from military service, and we claim the liberty he pledged."
Causton. "If the Count, and the Trustees and the King himself
had agreed on that in London it would count for nothing here,
if war comes it will be fight or die. If I were an officer on a march
and met people who would not join me, I would shoot them with my own hand,
and you can expect no other treatment from the officers here."
Tőltschig. "We are all servants, and can not legally be impressed."
Causton. "If the Count himself were here he would have to
take his gun on his shoulder, and all his servants with him.
If he were living on his estate at Old Fort it would make no difference,
for the order of the Magistrates must be obeyed. If the English,
to whom the country belongs must fight, shall others go free?"
Tőltschig finally yielded so far as to tell him the number of men
in their company, "it could do no harm for we could be counted any day,"
but their names were resolutely withheld, and service firmly refused.
Then the townspeople took up the cry. Should they fight for these strangers
who would not do their share toward defending the land?
They would mob and kill them first! They only injured the colony at any rate,
for they worked so cheaply that they lowered the scale of wages;
and besides they received money from many people, for their services,
but spent none because they made everything they needed for themselves!
Still the Moravians stood firm in their position, indeed they could do
nothing else without stultifying themselves. The instructions
from Zinzendorf and the leaders of the Church at Herrnhut,
with the approval of the lot, were definite,—they should take no part
in military affairs, but might pay any fines incurred by refusal.
To Oglethorpe and to the Trustees they had explained their scruples,
making freedom of conscience an essential consideration
of their settling in Georgia, and from them they had received assurances
that only freeholders were liable to military duty.
Therefore they had claimed no land as individuals, but had been content
to live, and labor, and be called "servants", paying each week
for men to serve in the night watch, in place of the absent owners
of the two town lots. In Savannah their views were well known,
and to yield to orders from a Magistrate, who openly declared
that promises made by the Trustees, who had put him in office,
were not worth regarding, and who threatened them with mob violence,
would have been to brand themselves as cowards, unworthy members of a Church
which had outlived such dire persecution as that which overthrew
the ancient Unitas Fratrum, and recreant to their own early faith,
which had led them to abandon homes and kindred in Moravia,
and seek liberty of conscience in another kingdom. That Georgia needed
armed men to protect her from the Spaniards was true, but equally so
she needed quiet courage, steady industry, strict honesty, and pious lives
to develop her resources, keep peace with her Indian neighbors,
and win the respect of the world, but these traits were hardly recognized
as coin current by the frightened, jealous men who clamored
against the Moravians.
On the 28th, it was demanded that the Moravians help haul wood to the fort
which was being built. They replied that their wagon and oxen were
at the officers' service without hire, and that they would feed the animals,
but personally they could take no share in the work.
This angered the people again, and several of the members began to wonder
whether they might perhaps comply so far as to assist,
as a matter of friendship, in hewing logs for the fort,
refusing the wages paid to others. The lot was tried,
and absolutely forbade it, which was well, for it developed
that the people were watching for their answer, having agreed
that if they helped on the fort it would be a proof
that they could do what they chose, and were simply hiding behind an excuse
in refusing to fight.
But the tension was not relaxed, and on the 2nd of March,
the Moravians met to decide on their further course.
Should they keep quiet, and wait for times to change, or should they go away?
It was referred to the lot, and the paper drawn read "go out from among them."
This meant not merely from the city, but from the province,
for Mr. Causton had told them that they would be subject
to the same requirements if they were living in the adjoining country.
On the strength of this they wrote a letter to Mr. Causton,
rehearsing their motives in coming to Georgia, and the promises made them,
reiterating their claim for liberty of conscience, and concluding,
"But if this can not be allowed us, if our remaining here be burdensome
to the people, as we already perceive it begins to be, we are willing,
with the approbation of the Magistrate, to remove from this place;
by this means any tumult that might ensue on our account will be avoided,
and occasion of offense cut off from those who now reproach us
that they are obliged to fight for us."
When it came to this point Mr. Causton found himself by no means anxious
to drive away some thirty of his best settlers, who stood well
with Oglethorpe and the Trustees, and had given him all their trade
for supplies, so he began to temporize. "They trusted in God,
and he really did not think their house would be burned over their heads."
Tőltschig said that was the least part of it, they had come for freedom,
and now attempts were made to force them to act contrary to the dictates
of their consciences. Then he declared that he had no power
in the matter of their leaving, that must be settled between the Count,
the Trustees, and themselves, but he could not permit them to go
until he received an order from the Trustees. Meanwhile he would do
what he could to quiet the people's dissatisfaction with them.
As their debt to the Trustees was not yet fully paid,
Causton's refusal bound them in Savannah for the time being,
according to their bond, so they had to turn elsewhere for help.
Early in February, they had heard of Spangenberg's return to Pennsylvania
from his visit to St. Thomas, and had written to ask him to come
and help them for a while, but being busy with other things he did not go.
On the 5th of March, Ingham suggested that he and one of their number
should go to England to the Trustees. They thought it over
and decided that George Neisser should go with him as far as Pennsylvania,
where the case should be laid before Spangenberg, with the request
that he go to London, arrange matters with the Trustees, and get permission
for them to leave Georgia. Ingham was going, with the approval
of Wesley and Delamotte, to try and bring over some of their friends
to help in the work of evangelizing the Province.
A ship was ready to sail for Pennsylvania on the 9th,
so Ingham and Neisser took passage on her, and sailed, as the event proved,
never to return.
<< 4: Reinforcements || 6: Disintegration >>