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The Origins of American Religious Nationalism (Religion in America)

by Sam Haselby

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I found this book to be quite informative.
Sam Haselby is a student of the early interplay between the evangelical protestants of the Old Northwest, and the New England Protestants with their less democratic stance to popular religion. Beginning with the intellectual roots of the Northern Founding fathers, he traces the way that the gradual movement towards the populist Jacksonian Presidency was reinforced by the Methodist preachers of the Ohio valley, and their gradual movement from an arms-length relationship with political activity to a more hands-on approach.
I found his short account of the relationship of the Shaker frontier traders and the Shawnee brothers, The Prophet, and Tecumseh, a fascinating detail.
There's also a good discussion of the relationship between the Methodist's reluctance to embrace unregulated capitalism, and the writings of Adam Smith. Haselby has found that Smith warned that "...banking, canals aqueducts and insurance companies are the only ventures that deserve corporate status. Awarding the privileges of corporation to other enterprises," Smith warned,"...would scarce ever fail to do more harm than good." A very interesting stance to pursue.
Into the bargain Mr. Haselby has come to the conclusion that in political and economic life Americans have continued the Puritan concept that the community has a very serious right to inquire deeply into the private lives of those in public life, with a great relish in publishing shortcomings.
So, I'm in favour of this and his other publications as they serve to broaden and illuminate American public life. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Aug 10, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199329575, Hardcover)

Sam Haselby offers a new and persuasive account of the role of religion in the formation of American nationality, showing how a contest within Protestantism reshaped American political culture and led to the creation of an enduring religious nationalism.

Following U.S. independence, the new republic faced vital challenges, including a vast and unique continental colonization project undertaken without, in the centuries-old European senses of the terms, either "a church" or "a state." Amid this crisis, two distinct Protestant movements arose: a popular and rambunctious frontier revivalism; and a nationalist, corporate missionary movement dominated by Northeastern elites. The former heralded the birth of popular American Protestantism, while the latter marked the advent of systematic Protestant missionary activity in the West.

The explosive economic and territorial growth in the early American republic, and the complexity of its political life, gave both movements opportunities for innovation and influence. This book explores the competition between them in relation to major contemporary developments-political democratization, large-scale immigration and unruly migration, fears of political disintegration, the rise of American capitalism and American slavery, and the need to nationalize the frontier. Haselby traces these developments from before the American Revolution to the rise of Andrew Jackson. His approach illuminates important changes in American history, including the decline of religious distinctions and the rise of racial ones, how and why "Indian removal" happened when it did, and with Andrew Jackson, the appearance of the first full-blown expression of American religious nationalism.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 10 Aug 2015 15:47:43 -0400)

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