The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America

The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America

4.0 4
by Paul E. Johnson, Sean Wilentz
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz brilliantly recapture the forgotten story of Matthias the Prophet, imbuing their richly researched account with the dramatic force of a novel. In the hands of Johnson and Wilentz, the strange tale of Matthias opens a fascinating window into the turbulent movements of the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening--movements…  See more details below

Overview

Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz brilliantly recapture the forgotten story of Matthias the Prophet, imbuing their richly researched account with the dramatic force of a novel. In the hands of Johnson and Wilentz, the strange tale of Matthias opens a fascinating window into the turbulent movements of the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening--movements that swept up great numbers of evangelical Americans and gave rise to new sects like the Mormons. Into this teeming environment walked a down-and-out carpenter named Robert Matthews, who announced himself as Matthias, prophet of the God of the Jews. His hypnotic personality drew in a cast of unforgettable characters--the meekly devout businessman Elijah Pierson, who once tried to raise his late wife from the dead; the young attractive Christian couple, Benjamin Folger and his wife Ann (who seduced the woman-hating Prophet); and the shrewd ex-slave Isabella Van Wagenen, regarded by some as "the most wicked of the wicked." None was more colorful than the Prophet himself, a bearded, thundering tyrant who gathered his followers into an absolutist household, using their money to buy an elaborate, eccentric wardrobe, and reordering their marital relations. By the time the tensions within the kingdom exploded into a clash with the law, Matthias had become a national scandal.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In the 1830s in New York, Robert Matthews proclaimed himself to be the prophet Matthias. He became the center of a communal, patriarchal cult, in which his fanatical fervor captivated many respectable people. Economic and sexual surrender were demanded in patterns familiar to us from Jonestown and Waco. Matthias was eventually tried for the murder of a follower. Historians Johnson (Univ. of Utah) and Wilentz (Princeton Univ.) present a highly readable and well-researched examination of this forgotten figure of the Second Great Awakening in American religious history. Matthias is presented effectively against the backdrop of his social and economic times and brought vividly to life. Recommended for public and academic libraries with reader interest.-- C. Robert Nixon, MLS, Lafayette, Ind.
Brian McCombie
A book about American evangelicalism and cults which proves that Jim Jones and the more recent Branch Dividians are part of a longer tradition. Here, the central actor is one Robert Matthews, a sometime carpenter who transforms himself into the prophet Matthias. The time is the early 1830s, the place New York City. What Matthias would create in a few short years would bear the markings of what has become almost the stereotype of today's cult: a tyrannical leader with a vision, suspicious financial dealings, and radical teachings. It all came to a head in 1834 when Matthias was charged with murder. The penny presses of the day played up the cult's every unsavory aspect, to the horror--and, one suspects, the delight--of readers, especially when reporters discovered the various sexual liaisons among cult members. Johnson and Wilentz set their compelling history against the backdrop of an America experiencing rapid social and economic change. Theirs is as much a history of our moral and cultural formation (often via the press), as the tale of a mesmerizing, dangerous man.
From the Publisher
"The book reads much like a novel....The authors relate this offbeat tale like the good storytellers they are, sqeezing the story out of a number of sources in a creative and imaginative way."—Journal of Social History

"A history book that reads like a novel of suspense and intrique...it affords us a rare glimpse into a much-misunderstood time."—WORLD

"Johnson and Wilentz successfully anchor their narrative in the religious and economic history of the early nineteenth century."—American Historical Review

"The story is an inherently engrossing one, and its retelling will be of direct value to scholars of the history of communitarianism and of alternative religions. The scholarship here...is impressive; the authors have come up with remarkable detailed sources for a story so seemingly marginal and so long past. But even more impressive is their ability to tell an engrossing story in language at once scholarly and as compelling as that of a good novel."—Utopian Studies

"This interesting and informative examination of an early religious cult will be a definite asset for anyone doing research on the history of cults."—KLIATT, November 1995

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199939121
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/02/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
270,949
File size:
3 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Paul E. Johnson is Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of South Carolina and is the author of numerous books, including Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper and A Shopkeeper's Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837. Sean Wilentz is George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, Princeton University. He is the author of Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1950 and The Rise of Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, among other titles.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
VERY CRAPPY
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hola
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Back