But his land was so heavily forested that only about

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marriage, and additional purchases. But his land was so heavily forestedthat only about one hundred acres were under cultivation. He raised alittle tobacco, and more corn and apples than cotton. His two-storyhouse was large enough to accommodate overnight guests, and in hiscellar and sheds were enough barrels to hold 1,500 gallons of applebrandy. No doubt his brandy supply was one of the main reasons whyhorseback Methodist preachers, traveling the Jerusalem-Murfreesbororoad, liked to come over to Turner’s place and stay the night with afellow Methodist.2The Turners had become Methodists back in the late 1780s or early1790s when the church was in its infancy. In 1784, a year after the Re-volution, the Methodists had broken away from the Anglican Church,or Church of England, and had established the Methodist EpiscopalChurch of America, with Francis Asbury as its first bishop and mostindefatigable circuit rider. Traditionally the Turner family had beenAnglicans, but after the Revolution Benjamin and Elizabeth wanted toescape the British stigma and switched to Methodism. Like scores ofother striving, acquisitive Americans, the Turners8
were very much attracted to Methodist doctrine, with its emphasis onfree will and individual salvation, and to the church’s irrepressiblemissionary zeal. The Turners became prominent church folk in theircommunity and did all they could to spread the faith, holding Methodistservices in the neighborhood chapel and traveling for miles to hear oneof Asbury’s pulpit-banging preachers. For these were the years whenMethodist evangelists, out to save America from Satan and to build amighty church for themselves, rode across Virginia, North Carolina,Tennessee, and Kentucky, presenting Methodism in a smoking, earthylanguage few people could resist. By 1801 frenzied camp meetings litup the Southern backwoods, as Methodists, Baptists, and maverickPresbyterians all joined in the evangelical crusade against godlessness.In those early years of the Republic, Methodist revivalists also in-veighed against the evil of slaveowning, though they were hardly thefirst sect to do so. On the contrary, the redoubtable Quakers had beenfoes of slavery since the colonial period, especially in Virginia and NorthCarolina. After the Revolution, North Carolina Quakers were so out-spoken against the institution that a grand jury accused them of planting“dangerous” notions in the slaves that might incite them to violence.The Quakers replied that it was not their pronouncements but the slavesystem itself that caused Negro unrest. That, of course, only got thembranded as “agitators” in North Carolina, but they went right on de-nouncing slavery nonetheless.In the 1780s the Methodists also attacked the institution, contendingin conference and church alike that human bondage was “contrary tothe laws of God and hurtful to society.” So antislavery were the earlyMethodists that Francis Asbury visited the South on several occasions,both to convert sinners and to speak against slaveholding. After a

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