Protten's eventful lifethe recruiting of converts, an interracial marriage, a trial on charges of blasphemy and inciting of slaves, travels to Germany and West Africaplaced her on the cusp of an emerging international Afro-Atlantic evangelicalism. Her career provides a unique lens on this prophetic movement that would soon sweep through the slave quarters of the Caribbean and North America, radically transforming African-American culture.
Jon Sensbach has pieced together this forgotten life of a black visionary from German, Danish, and Dutch records, including letters in Protten's own hand, to create an astounding tale of one woman's freedom amidst the slave trade. Protten's life, with its evangelical efforts on three continents, reveals the dynamic relations of the Atlantic world and affords great insight into the ways black Christianity developed in the New World.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
1. A Baptism of Blood
2. Rebirth and Remembrance
3. A Priestly Woman
4. The Path
6. The Devil's Bargain
7. A Pilgrim in Europe
Epilogue: Rebecca's Shadow
What People are Saying About This
Jon Sensbach's bold historical imagination has produced an important book rich with fascinating insights about the role of African Americans in the international movement of evangelical Protestantism and the centrality of women in this movement. Sensbach's beautifully written narrative follows the travels of Rebecca Protten, the earliest known black missionary in the Americas, through Europe, Africa, and the Danish island of St. Thomas, revealing the movement of ideas and peoples to have been circular rather than an east-west progression.
Sylvia Frey, co-author of Come Shouting to Zion: African American Protestantism in the American South and British Caribbean to 1830
Rebecca's Revival is one of the most daring books ever published on New World slavery, a book of triumphant scholarship with a heart. Sensbach has constructed a unique biography of an enslaved convert to Christianity from startlingly detailed previously unknown sources. Sensbach's unforgettable portrait of Rebecca's circuits through Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe may be the most powerful account of African resilience in the face of New World slavery since Frederick Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom."
Jon Butler, author of Becoming America: The Revolution before 1776
While most people think of African American history as the story of slavery, often told in statistics and usually about anonymous people, Jon Sensbach has found a fascinating biography. Painstakingly reconstructing Rebecca Protten's story from widely scattered sources, he weaves it skillfully into the Afro-Atlantic world bringing to life the whole complex web of interactions that made the early modern Atlantic such a dynamic place. Sensbach combines the patience of a master researcher with a novelist's touch for detail and human interest to give Rebecca her place in history.
John Thornton, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800
How fitting that Rebecca's life, lived with grace, commitment, and beauty, should be rendered in precisely the same way by Jon Sensbach. Here is a powerful example of biography 'from the bottom up,' a deep and moving account of an Atlantic pilgrim's progress.
Marcus Rediker, author of Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age