It is the 9th of June 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1732. By this year, there were 12 colonies. We'll be focusing our attention on this part of the world today.
In the colonies, everyone was reading a new almanac. Poor Richard's Almanac was first published in 1832. It was written and published by Ben Franklin, who used the pseudonym of Richard Saunders. It was a popular collection of aphorisms, weather, puzzles, and miscellany for entertainment and education. We like the model.
Ninepins was all the rage in the colonies. There was no infrastructure for horse racing and so the simple game, imported from Germany via England, was popular in the wide-open spaces. Ninepins is a combination of modern bowling and lawn bowling. Played outside, the ball has no finger holes. It is considered the descendant of similar games played in Ancient Egypt and a forerunner of ten pin bowling and billiards.
The Hat Act of 1732 was passed this year. The hat industry, especially that of making hats from animal pelts, was becoming popular and lucrative. This industry hurt the sales of hat importers from London. Thus, hats made in the colonies could no longer be exported amongst the colonies or to other countries.
1732 saw the birth of George Washington as well as Frederick North, the Prime Minister during the revolution. 1732 saw the foundation laid and the first construction work on what would become Independence Hall, the birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Also, in Pennsylvania, the Ephrata Commune was established this year. This community was based in Lancaster and was composed of a group of schismatic pietists. It was a semi-monastic community. Members were required to be celibate and to sleep on wooden benches with wooden pillows, also known as blocks. They slept in two shifts, all being awake from midnight to 2 in the case of Christ's returning. Today their land is owned and operated under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The colonists didn't know it yet, but they were on the cusp of the First Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards had given his first public lecture the year prior, and in the following year, his preaching in Northampton would spark the first revival.
And it was on this day, the 9th of June in 1732, that James Oglethorpe established the colony of Georgia. It was the 13th and the last before independence. It would be the first colony to practice a more liberal form of religious freedom. In other colonies, some sects were given specific land to live and worship. Georgia's charter, however, laid no such restrictions. It stated: "There shall be a liberty of conscience allowed in the worship of God... and that all such persons, except papists, shall have a free exercise of their religion."
Oglethorpe saw this new colony as a religious and social experiment in a way that other colonies had not. Having had a friend die in debtors' prison, he proposed that the new colony could be open for them and others who were poor or persecuted. George II, after whom the colony was named, saw Georgia as a convenient buffer between the Spanish and French Catholics in Florida and surrounding areas, thus the reference to “all such persons, except papists.”
As Georgia began to grow, Oglethorpe's secretary suggested that mission work could be fruitful in the colony. Oglethorpe thought it was a good idea and sent his secretary, Charles Wesley, along with his brother John to the new colony—the rest is history and a story for another time. And it was all predicated on what happened on this day, the 9th of June in 1732 when the colony of Georgia was established for religious freedom.
The reading for today comes from an anonymous author who published the following poem about hope in the Kilmarnock Reader of 1820. It is a good word for us on the hope of the redemption of all things:
THERE is a hope of better days,
Of sweeter joys, and louder praise,
That leads the worldly man through strife,
And guides the path of active life.
O how fair but O how fleeting
Alluring still, and still retreating
Upon the mourner's weary way
It hardly sheds one timid ray;
Or if it shines, it shines afar,
Like some little nameless star.
But the hope that dawns from heaven,
Rising o'er the world's decay,
Cheers the heart by anguish riven,
Brightening on to endless day.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 9th of June 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who knows something about hats made from animal pelts, Christopher Gillespie, King of the Wild Frontier. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.