Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1721

Moravian missionary David Zeisberger is born

David Zeisberger, a Moravian missionary whose Native American converts were slaughtered by Pennsylvania militiamen in the Gnaddenhuetten Massacre of 1781, is born in Zauchental, Moravia, near Ostrava, in what is now the Czech Republic, on this day in 1781.

The Zeisberger family moved to Herrnhut, Saxony, to join a Moravian community there in the late 1720s. In 1736, David’s parents left for the Moravian settlement in the new colony of Georgia, leaving their son to complete his schooling in Herrnhut. Zeisberger joined his parents in 1738 and traveled with them to Pennsylvania, where they settled in 1740. Although he was slated to return to Germany in 1743, leading Moravian Bishop David Nitschmann noticed the young man’s reluctance to depart and convinced him to remain in Pennsylvania.

Zeisberger then began learning the languages essential to his future role as a missionary among Native Americans. Beginning with Delaware and Mohawk, Zeisberger eventually mastered Onondaga, Cayuga, Mahican and Ojibwa, as well as a second dialect of the Delaware language.

The Moravians pacifism placed them and their Native American converts in a difficult position during the violent second half of the 18th century. In 1781, David Zeisberger was taken to Detroit for questioning by the British. Although he was eventually released, the Indians he had converted and offered shelter at Gnaddenhuetten, Ohio, were murdered by members of the Pennsylvania militia in his absence.

Tension between Euro-Americans and Native Americans in the Ohio Valley forced Zeisberger and his followers to mover further north into Michigan and Ontario in the late 1780s and early 1790s.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin overthrown

On April 11, 1979, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin flees the Ugandan capital of Kampala as Tanzanian troops and forces of the Uganda National Liberation Front close in. Two days later, Kampala fell and a coalition government of former exiles took power. Amin, chief of the Ugandan army ...read more

The Apollo 13 astronauts

Apollo 13 launched to moon

On April 11, 1970, Apollo 13, the third lunar landing mission, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The spacecraft’s destination was the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon, where the ...read more

International Labor Organization founded

On this day in 1919, in Paris, France, the International Labor Organization (ILO) is founded as an independent, affiliated agency of the League of Nations. The call for just and equal labor standards and improved working and living conditions for the world’s workers had begun to ...read more

Troops from Hawaii sent to South Vietnam

One hundred U.S. troops of the Hawaiian-based 25th Infantry Division are ordered to temporary duty with military units in South Vietnam to serve as machine gunners aboard Army H-21 helicopters. This was the first commitment of American combat troops to the war and represented a ...read more

B-52s strike North Vietnamese positions

On this day, B-52 strikes against communist forces attacking South Vietnamese positions in the Central Highlands near Kontum remove any immediate threat to that city. Air strikes against North Vietnam continued, but were hampered by poor weather. Also on this day, the Pentagon ...read more

Phil Mickelson wins first major at Masters

On this day in 2004, Phil Mickelson wins the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, his first major championship in nearly 12 years as a professional golfer. A native of California, Mickelson graduated from Arizona State University, where he won three NCAA ...read more