Religion in Nineteenth Century America

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Overview

Written from the perspective of the various denominations that thrived in the 19th century, this comprehensive survey of the middle period in America's religious past actually starts a little earlier, in the 1780s. In the aftermath of the American Revolution, the citizens of the newly-minted republic had to cope with more than the havoc wreaked on churches and denominations by the war. They also tasted for the first time the effects of two novel ideas incorporated in the Constitution and the First Amendment: the separation of church and state and the freedom to practice any religion.
Grant Wacker takes readers on a lively tour of the numerous religions and the major historical challenges—from the Civil War and westward expansion to immigration and the Industrial Revolution—that defined the century. The narrative focuses on the rapid growth of evangelical Protestants, in denominations such as Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists, and their competition for dominance with new immigrants' religions such as Catholicism and Judaism. The author discusses issues ranging from temperance to Sunday schools and introduces the personalities—sometimes colorful, sometimes saintly, and often both—of the men and women who shaped American religion in the 19th century, including Methodist bishop Francis Asbury, ex-slave Sojourner Truth, Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, and evangelist Dwight L. Moody.

Religion in American Life explores the evolution, character, and dynamics of organized religion in America from 1500 to the present day. Written by distinguished religious historians, these books weave together the varying stories that compose the religious fabric of the United States, from Puritanism to alternative religious practices. Primary source material coupled with handsome illustrations and lucid text make these books essential in any exploration of America's diverse nature. Each book includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, and index.

Tours the ever-shifting landscape of nineteenth-century America, reflecting the constant change of religious life in that century.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Interested students will find this authoritative, comprehensive, and well-balanced account a useful introduction to an important period of American history. During the 19th century, campaigns for the abolition of slavery, temperance, and a heavenly kingdom on earth all swept across the country, drawing many people away from their traditional spiritual homes. Wacker starts with the "Founders," who established the pattern of religious tolerance, and continues chronologically, covering the "Insiders," who brought evangelicalism to America; the "Visionaries," who spread millennial messages throughout the frontiers; the "Outsiders," including Native Americans, Jews, and African Americans; "Warriors," the Abolitionists; and "Immigrants," Roman Catholics. Maintaining a strong sense of objectivity, the author clearly presents each movement's views and activities in just a few paragraphs. His style is clear and fairly lively, and does not oversimplify complex events like the vicissitudes of the Mormons. Although many of these movements are reported in standard textbooks, they are not usually presented in such interesting or exciting detail, nor are the relationships to other events made as clear. The illustrations, black-and-white photographs and reproductions of contemporary portraits, broadsides, etc., are well captioned and keyed to the text; in most cases they add useful information. The author's fairness and generosity of understanding, especially in covering the "Outsiders," will encourage casual readers to learn more about these developments.-Jonathan Betz-Zall, Sno-Isle Regional Library System, Edmonds, WA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195110210
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Series: Religion in American Life Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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