Sunday, November 21, 2010

Removed but Connected and Involved

Excerpt from "Old Salem - The Official Guidebook" by Penelope Niven and Cornelia Wright (click on the link to purchase your copy). Visit the official website of Old Salem Museums and Gardens
"The history of the Moravians comes to life at Old Salem. A unique religious group, the Moravians made the town of Salem an oasis of beauty and order in the Carolina back-country. Today in the workshops, homes, and gardens of Old Salem, men and women carry on the daily tasks of living just as they were done in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries - crafting beautiful objects, running households and businesses, and  engaging in artistic and musical pursuits. This guide will help you make the most of your visit to Old Salem, one of the most authentic living-history museums in the United States."

Removed but Connected and Involved:

Charleston Harbor c. 1771
The people of Salem were tangibly connected to the world at large. Many decisions about daily life, spiritual and secular, were made in the Moravian councils in Europe. Letters and travelers made their slow way from Salem to the coast, across the Atlantic Ocean to England or Germany, and back again. Moravians in Salem were tethered to Bethlehem and other Moravian communities in Pennsylvania by letters, documents and travel.

Moravian Missionaries  Indians
The Carolina Moravians were more cosmopolitan than most of their Backcountry neighbors - better educated; more cultured, with their appreciation for science, music, literature, art and fine crafts and decorative arts; better equipped for daily challenges of life, from the practice of medicine to the self-sufficiency provided by the skilled Salem work force. The town grew to be a robust commercial center, trading far and wide with colonists in the Carolinas, Virgina and Georgia. The Moravians were conscientious citizens, shrewdly participating in colonial and then state legislative as well as commercial affairs. They also dispatched missionaries to the Cherokees and other Native Americans and supported international missions, receiving reports on mission fields around the world - from the West Indies to Greenland to Cairo.

From the Revolutionary War to the Industrial Revolution and the Civil War, external forces inevitably touched and even altered daily life in Salem. As time and events demanded, the Moravians reshaped their society, their culture, their commerce and certain religious rules and practices.

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