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“Led by a young lawyer, Francis Daniel Pastorius, who was charmed at the prospect of taking a community to lead ‘a quiet, godly, and honest life in a howling wilderness,’ in 1683 a pioneer group settled in what was to be called Germantown, not far from Philadelphia, which became a center where German immigrants collected before moving out into the neighboring counties of Pennsylvania. Pastorius’s pioneers were followed by a smaller group led by Johann Kelpius, a hymnographer and mystic of ingratiating saintliness and eccentricity, one of the first of a long line of visionaries to be drawn to America, One of Kelpius’s associates, a distinguished astronomer who died en route, had projected that the millennium would come in 1694, and hoped to greet the end of the world in America. Kelpius himself, who was given to withdrawing to a cave for prayer and contemplation, hoped to achieve a kind of immortality, but confessed himself mistaken on the eve of his death in 1708. For some, America has always been a land of disappointment.” – Richard Hofstadter, America at 1750: A Social Portrait

Published inVerandah

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