INTRODUCTION
I
IN JUNE 1769, Mary Cooper visited the Quaker meeting in Oys-
ter Bay, Long Island "where a multitude were geathered to here
a woman preach that lately came from England." Four days later
she noted the presence of "One Indan
[sic]
preacher" in the town.
One August Sabbath "some Indans and one Black man came from
Montalk" and preached all day. The next week Mary went to "New
Light meeten to here a Black man preach." Two days later she
and fellow travellers to New England encountered a man whose
diatribes against "Mr. Whitefield," the famous English itinerant,
proved "as much and something mor than we coula well beare to."
In late November she again found herself "hurreing to meeten"
to hear two Indian preachers who had just arrived in town. They
remained for more than a week, holding "very happy meetens" in
various places as "greate numbers flocked to here them."
1
Cooper punctuated her private reflections with reports of visit-
ing preachers from distant places; black and red as well as white,
Quaker as well as Baptist and Congregational, female as well as
male. Most were "well received" by the people of Cooper's commu-
nity, and their preaching often left the townspeople's souls "much
affected." Cooper and her neighbors were ready to attend any of
four different Oyster Bay meetinghouses and a number of private
dwellings any time a visiting preacher passed through. She never re-
corded a firsthand encounter with the preaching of George White-
field, yet like evangelical Anglo-Americans everywhere she held the
"grand itinerant" in high esteem.
The passage of itinerants through Mary Cooper's life suggests
how eighteenth-century Anglo-Americans employed religious cate-
Previous Page Next Page