“To Go and Serve the Desolate Sheep in America”: The Diary/Journal of Bishop Richard Whatcoat 1789 - 1800


Rogal, Professor Samuel J. (editor)


Scholar and researcher

This hitherto unpublished diary, edited and with notes by Dr. Rogal, provides a valuable research tool for understanding the place of religion in immediate post Revolutionary America specifically amongst the American Methodist Episcopal Church members Bishop Whatcoat had as his flock. Sent to America and appointed by John Wesley with the stern injunction “ … to go and serve the desolate sheep of America," Richard Whatcoat spent 11 years as a roving missioner bishop in the remote parts of the American frontier as well as in more established centers such as southeast New England and the Carolinas. The editor has created a coherent and readable work that stresses Whatcoat’s actions and reactions to the newly independent Americans; indeed as an Englishman, the bishop was in receipt of some hard words but also of great encouragement and praise (and some latent pro-Loyalist feeling).

Another strength of the diary is the light it sheds on Whatcoat’s circuit-riding ministry to black slaves and other persons of color. The great evangelical appeal of Methodism was its liberating theology and great choral music tradition. This aspect of Afro-American development as well as the bishop’s relations with black clergymen and would-be clergymen is discussed at length.

Whatcoat lived amongst his people rarely staying at an inn or ordinary in his travels: the diary gives a unique picture of rural and small town America, its food, festivals, habits and morality through the eyes of a friendly but firm eighteenth century divine.

U.S. Religious History (post colonial era): Methodism, history of U.S. History (Federal period); Methodism, United Kingdom; John Wesley
Release Date: 
Cloth: 1-930901-41-0
Trim Size: 
6 x 9

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