This article offers a new history of slavery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: how enslaved men and women were brought to Bethlehem, who owned these enslaved men and women, how some became free, and whether the lives of enslaved Moravians differed from those of free Moravians. The prevailing account states that the Moravian congregation itself purchased enslaved men and women soon after Bethlehem was settled to augment its labor force. But most Afro-Moravians got to Bethlehem, this article shows, through a haphazard process that the congregation did not manage: enslavers (Moravians elsewhere) sent men, women, and children to Bethlehem or brought them when they moved to the backcountry community. Moravian authorities claimed that there was “no difference” in Bethlehem between these enslaved people and White Moravians. The archive that the congregation produced tends to reinforce that view: church registers, membership catalogs, diaries, and memoirs are mostly silent, for instance, about individuals’ legal status. But amplifying voices that have been overlooked of enslaved and free Afro-Moravians, as well as exploring the neglected 1780 Register of enslaved persons in Northampton County, reveals that differences based on race shaped the lives of people of African descent in Bethlehem and Northampton County’s other Moravian communities.

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