By Philip Jenkins (auth.)
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By 1768 New York had a distinct Methodist chapel. The movement seemed doomed when John Wesley forthrightly condemned the revolutionary cause, but by the 1780s Methodism emerged as an American church, with a huge potential for growth. By 1790 the Methodist Episcopal Church had claimed 40 000 adherents in the new United States. The German churches spawned evangelical sects such as the United Brethren and Evangelical Association, which grew dramatically at the end of the century. Revivals and awakenings proved a lively incentive to new settlement, as families and groups set out to form new villages where they could live in godliness and unity: from New England especially, 'New Light' settlers spread west into Ohio.
The eighteenth century was, however, marked by a significant polarization of wealth, and the emergence of powerful new elites. In the middle colonies these tended to be planters and landowners with vast estates, like the fifty or so Virginian families who held office as magistrates and served on the governor's council. Examples included the Byrds, the Lees, the Randolphs, and the Carters, the splendour of whose life-style is illustrated by surviving mansions such as Westover and Carter's Grove.
The first known slave importation in the British colonies occurred in 1619, though the Spanish and Portuguese had had long experience in this practice, having already transported perhaps a million Africans. Slavery did not represent a major force in British lands until after the 1680s. In 1670 Sir William Berkeley estimated that among th 40 000 Virginians, there were only 2 000 black slaves and 6 000 white servants. By 1700 there were 10-20 000 slaves in British America out of a total population of 275 000, perhaps five per cent of the whole.
A History of the United States by Philip Jenkins (auth.)