Moses Wilkinson was a blind and lame slave from Nansemond County, Virginia; his master was Mills Wilkinson. After Dunmore's Proclamation promised slaves of American rebels their freedom if they would join the British forces fighting in the American Revolutionary War, Wilkinson led a band of runaway slaves to freedom in 1776. In New York, the self-appointed, illiterate, fiery Wesleyan Methodist preacher gathered together a congregation.
When the British were defeated in 1783, Wilkinson and other Black Loyalists were transported aboard L'Abondance to Halifax; he is listed in the Book of Negroes. A Black Loyalist settlement was established in Birchtown, Nova Scotia. On 26 October 1791, 350 people gathered in Wilkinson's church to hear John Clarkson explain the Sierra Leone Company's plans to reestablish a colony in what is now Sierra Leone, the previous 1787 attempt having failed miserably. Displeased with a climate colder than they were used to and a hostile reception from the resident whites, Wilkinson, members of his Methodist congregation, and those of other denominations emigrated; 1196 Nova Scotian Settlers set sail from Halifax on 15 January 1792.
The ships made landfall on 9 March. Wilkinson established the first Methodist church in Settler Town. The Sierra Leone Company clashed with the independent-minded Christian denominations, and matters came to a head with a failed rebellion led by Methodists in 1800. Two Methodists were executed, a number of others, mostly Methodist, were exiled elsewhere in Africa, and Wilkinson's brand of Methodism lost favour.
- Cassandra Pybus, Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty. Beacon Press, 2007. (Accessed February 2014)
- Vincent Carretta (ed.), Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the 18th Century, University Press of Kentucky, 1996, 2004. (Accessed February 2014)
- James W. St. G. Walker, The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone 1783-1870, 1992. (Accessed February 2014)
- Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution, HarperCollins, 2006. (Accessed February 2014)
- Lamin Sanneh, Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa, Harvard University Press, 2001. (Accessed February 2014)
- The Wesleyans. (Accessed February 2014)
- Susan Ware, Forgotten Heroes: Inspiring American Portraits From Our Leading Historians, The Free Press, 1998. (Accessed February 2014)
- Robin W. Winks, The Blacks in Canada: A History. (Accessed February 2014)
- "African Nova Scotians in the Age of Slavery and Abolition". novascotia.ca (official website of Nova Scotia). Wilkinson's entry in the Book of Negroes gives his age as 36.
- Gary B. Nash. "Thomas Peters: Millwright and Deliverer".
- Clifford, Mary Louise (January 2006). From Slavery to Freetown: Black Loyalists After the American Revolution. McFarland. pp. 15–18. ISBN 9780786425570.
- "The Radical Methodist Congregation of Daddy Moses". blackloyalist.info.
- Glenn Whipp (May 6, 2015). "Emmy Contenders: Join Louis Gossett Jr. of 'Book of Negroes' on Thursday". Los Angeles Times.