From New Babylon To Eden
The Huguenots And Their Migration To Colonial South Carolina
Van Ruymbeke recounts the escalating persecution that led to the Huguenot exodus from France and tells how approximately five hundred émigrés settled in South Carolina. He credits their decision to relocate to the vigorous marketing efforts of the Lords Proprietors, the owners and rulers of the province, who promised the French Calvinists a veritable Eden. The Huguenots quickly discovered the colony was not paradise, but they adapted to the new environment by abandoning their Old World silk, olive oil, and wine trades for the more lucrative pursuits of Indian trade, cattle ranching, and rice planting.
Placing the Carolina migration in the context of the larger Huguenot diaspora, Van Ruymbeke proffers an account that challenges accepted history. Describing their settlement as a process of acculturation and creolization rather than simply assimilation, he contends that the majority of these French Calvinists sought to create their own churches but were thwarted by an Anglicized elite eager to dominate carve itself a niche within Anglo-Carolinian society. He also reveals that most members of the initial generation were moderately—not exceptionally—prosperous and, rather, that it was their descendants who acquired the wealth often associated with lowcountry Huguenots. Van Ruymbeke concludes with an epilogue describing the Huguenot legacy in South Carolina.
About the Author
"Van Ruymbeke provides us with a fuller picture of the Huguenot emigration as experienced on both sides of the Atlantic than we've ever had before. His portrait is rich with new and significant discoveries, from his superior command of French sources to his diligent research into South Carolina records. Taken together, From New Babylon to Eden grants us a compelling view of the Huguenots' arrival and remarkable experience in South Carolin"—Jon Butler, Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Yale University
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