No one writes a work of history by himself, and I am no exception. Without the help and encouragement of academic advisers, the staffs of historical archives, family members, fellow graduate students, and friends, this project would never have been started, much less completed. I am grateful to the staff of the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for providing me access to its extensive holdings of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Afro-Moravian culture, to which important parts of this work can be attributed. The chief archivist in Bethlehem, Paul Peucker, was particularly helpful, as was his knowledgeable assistant Lanie Graf. Former Moravian archivist Vernon Nelson also provided valuable insights into early Moravian history and suggested further venues for research that were particularly fruitful. The staff of the archives and of Moravian College made it possible for me to spend several weeks in Bethlehem; this gave me a chance, in my off hours, to explore the region where many of the historical characters in this study lived and worked, adding immeasurably to my understanding of the subject.
I am indebted as well to the staffs of the Georgia Historical Society, the South Carolina Historical Association, the Library of Caroliniana, Moravian House–London, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Lambeth Palace, Regents Park College–Oxford University, the Latin American Collection at the University of Florida, and Interlibrary Loan, all of them for allowing me access to their extensive collections and services.
(p.x) Fellow panelists and the commentators at several history conferences in which I have had the good fortune to participate have provided much-needed criticism. My chapter 4, on evangelical networks in the Greater Caribbean, benefited from the insights of the panelists and audience of a conference in 2004 at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro on “Creating Identity and Empire in the Atlantic World, 1492–1888.” Likewise, chapter 2, on Antigua’s central role in eighteenth-century Protestant evangelization, was immeasurably improved by the comments of Alexander X. Byrd, Vincent Carretta, and Dee Andrews at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City in 2009. I would like to thank the anonymous readers from Pennsylvania History for their suggestions on more clearly defining my arguments in chapter 3, on black Christianity in the mid-Atlantic colonies. I am appreciative of the comments made by the anonymous readers who critiqued my submission to Church History that after some revisions became chapter 5. Some of the most insightful critiques came from the thoughtful analyses of the reviewers for the University Press of Florida, all of whom suggested changes that appear in the text. Of particular help was Douglas Chambers, who encouraged me to take a closer look at the presence and influence of African ethnic groups, specifically the Igbo, in early American culture.
At the University of Florida, Jon Sensbach encouraged my interest in early American history while guiding me into several fruitful areas of study. Jon’s work with early Afro-Moravians and his Atlantic-world perspectives deepened my own interest in transoceanic religious movements and the cross-cultural connections that made them possible. David Geggus and Jeffrey Needell’s seminars on slavery and Brazilian history broadened my understanding of early American history to include the Caribbean and Latin America, while David Hackett and Anna Peterson deepened my appreciation of the importance of religion in the historical development of the Americas. I am thankful for my many excellent fellow graduate students who, over hundreds of hours of discussions in the cramped graduate student lounge and at history seminars, provided a wealth of information from a wide range disciplines and gave me much thoughtful criticism.
My greatest debt of gratitude is to my family. My mother, Patricia Brodersen, and my late father, John David Catron, inspired in me a love and appreciation for the past and imbued a lasting curiosity about human foibles and triumphs. My mother performed the yeomen’s duty of editing (p.xi) this work and is therefore responsible for much of what is good about its literary style and clarity. As my lifelong friends, my sisters, Cecilia and Carol, and my brother, David, have given continued and enthusiastic support. Finally, my wife, Tracey, and daughters, Amanda and Heidi, deserve more thanks than I can give for enduring my long hours of study and the extended periods I have spent away from them on research trips. This work is for them. (p.xii)