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Marking the 1830s rather than the 1870s as the genesis of the Black Christian secessionist movement in South Africa, chapter 2 suggests that Ethiopianism cannot simply be understood from the perspective of African church leaders who abandoned mainline Protestant congregations where they once served with missionaries. The chapter's periodization points to heretofore overlooked clergy, evangelists, and laity as critical figures. These stories of Ethiopianism are only captured in clandestine church records of ex-slaves, government interviews of “church separatists,” and cherished family oral histories that add new dimensions to the current historiography. Read against the grain, many of these sources illuminate the threatening nature of Ethiopianism and the African initiated churches it birthed for white society. Missionaries and the government alike feared that Black self-governance would extend beyond the church and upend colonial life like it had during the Haitian Revolution.

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