Alcohol, Temperance, and Prohibition

WEB RESOURCE This Brown University Essay on the Temperance Movement is supported by a wealth of primary sources. Beginning in the early 19th century with the work of physician Benjamin Rush and Boston minister Jeremy Belknap, the movement for temperance used a mixture of scientific and moral claims in their fight against the consumption of alcoholic beverages. For over a century, Americans argued for abstinence from alcohol using a combination of scientific and moral reasons. The sources show the language and arguments used.

The American Experience - John Brown's Holy War

DVD John Brown led a righteous crusade against slavery, born of religious conviction -- and carried out with shocking violence. DVD available from American Experience.

Mormonism and the American Mainstream

WEB RESOURCE WEB RESOURCE This National Humanities Center Divining America Project article by historian Donald Scott provides an overview of Mormon beliefs and brief history of their experience in 19th century U.S. history. The author also addresses the issue of why Mormons were feared and persecuted.

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman Missionaries on the Oregon Trail

WEB RESOURCE This brief description of the Whitman Mission and how it came about shows the role of religion in US Indian policy. There is information about both Marcus and Narcissus Whitman.

Brigham Young

WEB RESOURCE This History Channel biography provides information both about Brigham Young and the early Latter Day Saints and their importance in the development of the American West.

Oranges on Golden Mountain by Elizabeth Partridge

BOOK This picture book is the story of Jo Lee whose mother sends him to California with orange tree cuttings. The book makes reference to traditional Chinese folk religion and other cultural information about these immigrants from the east. Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2001. K-5

Amazing Grace: The Story Behind the Song by James Haskins

BOOK This is the story of John Newton, a slave trader who became an Anglican minister and an advocate of abolition as well as the composer of the often heard hymn. Millbrook Press, 1992. Grades 4-8

The Church in the Southern Black Community 1780-1925

WEB RESOURCE This compilation of printed texts from the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill traces how Southern African Americans experienced and transformed Protestant Christianity into the central institution of community life. It focuses, through slave narratives and observations by other African American authors, on how the black community adapted evangelical Christianity, making it a metaphor for freedom, community, and personal survival.

Lincoln's Civil Religion

WEB RESOURCE One of the most popular areas of recent scholarship on Lincoln has concerned his careful manipulation of the rhetoric of religious faith. If Lincoln did have a conviction against slavery, was it motivated more by Constitutional principles, secular humanism, or some conciliatory, pan-American Protestantism?

The Jewish Experience During the Civil War

WEB VIDEO This video discussion by National Archive scholars focuses on the Civil War. General Ulysses S. Grant issued an order calling for the expulsion of all Jews in his military districts. The experience of Jews during the war was preserved in the US National Archives.

The Foreign Missionary Movement in the 19th and early 20th Centuries

WEB RESOURCE Religion, especially the dynamics of evangelical Protestantism, played an important role in the tasks of internal expansion and nation-building which occupied Americans in the nineteenth century.

The American Jewish Experience through the Nineteenth Century: Immigration and Acculturation

WEB RESOURCE In the nineteenth century, American Jews, seeking to strengthen Judaism against its numerous Christian competitors in the marketplace of American religions, introduced various religious innovations, some of them borrowed from their neighbors. Young Jews in Charleston, dissatisfied with the "apathy and neglect" they saw manifested toward their religion, somewhat influenced by the spread of Unitarianism, fearful of Christian missionary activities that had begun to be directed toward local Jews, and, above all, passionately concerned about Jewish survival in a free society, created the breakaway "Reformed Society of Israelites for Promoting True Principles of Judaism According to Its Purity and Spirit." This was America's first Reform congregation, with an abbreviated service, vernacular prayers, and regular sermons. Traditional congregations also "Protestantized" some of their practices, introducing regular English sermons and more decorous modes of worship.

Evangelicalism, Revivalism, and the Second Great Awakening

WEB RESOURCE Nineteenth century America contained a bewildering array of Protestant sects and denominations, with different doctrines, practices, and organizational forms. But by the 1830s almost all of these bodies had a deep evangelical emphasis in common. What above all else characterized this evangelicalism was its dynamism, the pervasive sense of activist energy it released. As Charles Grandison Finney, the leading evangelical of mid-nineteenth century America, put it: "religion is the work of man, it is something for man to do." This evangelical activism involved an important doctrinal shift away from the predominately Calvinist orientation that had characterized much of eighteenth-century American Christianity.

Evangelicalism as a Social Movement

WEB RESOURCE Evangelicalism can be understood not only as a religious movement, but also as a social movement and part of a broader organizational revolution that transformed nineteenth-century American society. Americans increasingly had become a people in motion, constantly moving across social and geographical space. Under the force of this fluidity, families, towns, and occupational structures lost much of their traditional capacity to regulate individual and social life. Instead, Americans devised a different kind of institutional order as they turned to an increasingly dense fabric of new organizations such as voluntary societies of various sorts, and political parties.

Religion in the Civil War: The Northern Perspective

WEB RESOURCE After Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in April 1861, the vast majority of Northern religious bodies, with the exception of the historic "peace" churches, supported the war for the Union. Of these groups, Protestants, given their numbers and position in American life, contributed religious or theological justifications of the war that had wide social and political impact. To examine Protestant attitudes in the 1860s is thus to learn much about the popular mood and motivations of Northerners as their "boys" marched off to war.

African American Christianity - From the Civil Warmto the Great Migration, 1865-1920

WEB RESOURCE - National Humanities Center In some ways, the story of African American religion between Emancipation and the northern migration that began just prior to World War I is a tale of regionally distinctive communities that found several areas of common cause, not the least of which were the advent of Jim Crow and lynching as ominous new forms of racism. But an understanding of religious experience in this era must also be supplemented by the complexities of the many internal boundaries in African American life in both the north and south: class divisions, rural/urban differences, and gender issues that accompanied the dawn of freedom.

Roman Catholics and Immigration in Nineteenth-Century America

WEB RESOURCE This National Humanities Center examines Roman Catholicism in the nineteenth century America IS the story of immigration. Review the article to determine the story of the different Catholic immigrants who came to America and as a result changed the role of Catholicism drastically and permanently.

John L. O'Sullivan on Manifest Destiny, 1839

PRIMARY SOURCE This piece by O'Sullivan argues that the reason for the Mexican American War was that the American version of Christianity was identified with civilization and justified America's expansionist position.

The Jewish Americans

WEB RESOURCE This series by David Grubin provides an overview of life for Jews in America and how their experience showed that the Jewish people gradually came to gain the same legal protections as the Christian peoples in America.

Prince Among Slaves

WEB RESOURCE In 1788 a slave-ship set sail from West Africa, its berth laden with a profitable but fragile cargo: hundreds of men, women and children bound in chains and headed for American shores. Eight months later the survivors were sold in Natchez, Mississippi. Among them was the 26-year-old Abdul Rahman Sori, heir to the throne of one of the largest kingdoms in Africa.

Transcendentalism, An American Philosophy

WEB RESOURCE This is an overview of major American writers in the Transcendental movement and how they influence American thinking about social issues.

The Mormons

WEB VIDEO In this two-part series, FRONTLINE and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE examine the development and growth of the Mormon faith. The first part chronicles the birth of Mormonism in upstate New York and follows its trek across America under the charismatic leadership of Joseph Smith. This episode also deals with the question, "Why should they be so hated?" as it analyzes the discrimination that the Mormons historically faced. It fits well with the 19th c. H-SS curriculum.

Bringing Indians to the Book by Albert Furtwangler

BOOK Bringing Indians to the Book recounts the experiences of these missionaries who went to Oregon Territory to convert the Native Americans there and of the explorers on the Lewis and Clark Expedition who preceded them. Though they differed greatly in methods and aims, missionaries and explorers shared a crucial underlying cultural characteristic: they were resolutely literate, and they came west in order to meet, and attempt to change, groups of people who for thousands of years had passed on their memories, learning, and values through words not written, but spoken or sung aloud. It was inevitable that, in this meeting of literate and oral societies, misunderstandings would abound.

Prophetic World: Indians and Whites on the Columbian Plateau by Christopher Miller

BOOK Christopher Miller offers an innovative reinterpretation of relations between Native Americans and Christian settlers on the Columbia Plateau. Miller draws on a wealth of ethnographic resources to show how culturally-derived perceptions and systems of rationality played more of a determining role in the interactions between these two groups than did material forces. Initially, Plateau Indians and the American missionaries who came to convert them perceived each other as crucial to the fulfillment of their own millennial destiny. Prophetic Worlds provides a novel and insightful rendering of the cultural understandings that underwrote the mid-nineteenth-century transformation of life on the Plateau.

The Ghost Dance

WEB RESOURCE This is a brief overview of the origins of the Ghost Dance and its relationship to traditional Indian culture. It is part of the Religious Studies database of Virginia Commonwealth University.

American Abolitionism and Religion

WEB RESOURCE This National Humanities Center Diving America site provides an overview of the relationship among religion, slavery, and abolitionism. There are guiding questions for teachers to use with students.

This Mysterious Road

WEB PRIMARY SOURCE American Quaker Levi Coffin was an abolitionist and business owner. He was so deeply involved in the Underground Railroad in Indiana and Ohio that his home is sometimes called "Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad." Here is a description of his work in his own words.

"Kill the Indian: Save the Man"

PRIMARY SOURCE WEBSITE This report by Captain Richard Pratt shows the influence of religious thinking involved in the Carlisle Indian Schools. It is summarized in the lines:"Not until there shall be in every locality throughout the nation a supremacy of the Bible principle of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God,... nor will we have done so until there is throughout all of our communities the most unequivocal and complete acceptance of our own doctrines, both national and religious."

Good Neighbors and Bad: Religious Differences on the Plains in the Early 20th century

AUDIO INTERVIEW The harmony of rural life is often romanticized, but differences among neighbors, whether ethnic, religious or political, could often lead to tension, especially as new groups emigrated west. Ezra and Dan Miller were born in a sod house in North Dakota but migrated with a group of Amish Mennonites to Montana. In this 1981 interview, conducted by Laurie Mercier for the Montana Historical Society, they described how local cowboys reacted to the influx of Amish farmers.

"We Chinese Are Viewed Like Thieves and Enemies"- Pun Chi Appeals to Congress to Protect the Rights of Chinese, ca. 1860

PRIMARY SOURCE 19th c. businessmen eager for cheap labor for California's mining, railroads, and agriculture encouraged Chinese migrants to voyage to the U.S. In the 1850s, as the Chinese population grew, an anti-Chinese movement mounted. The California legislature and courts restricted the rights of Chinese immigrants with the Foreign Miners Tax of 1852 and a California Supreme Court decision - People v. Hall (1854) - that excluded Chinese testimony from the courts, further sanctioning violence against Chinese residents. Pun Chi, a young Chinese merchant, wrote this appeal to Congress, sometime between 1856 and 1868, seeking help against growing anti-Chinese movement. Reminding Congress that Chinese migration had been encouraged and that migrants deserved legal protection once in America, he gave graphic accounts of the mining tax collectors' abuses and the murder of Chinese miners. Though many who considered themselves Christians backed the anti-Chinese effort, partly on religious grounds, William Speer, a Presbyterian minister and missionary in San Francisco's Chinatown, translated Pun Chi's appeal and published it in 1870.

Protestant Paranoia: The American Protective Association Oath

PRIMARY SOURCE In 1887, Henry F. Bowers founded the nativist American Protective Association (APA) in Clinton, Iowa. Bowers was a Mason, and he drew from its fraternal ritual...elaborate regalia, initiation ceremonies, and a secret organizing the APA. He also drew many Masons, an organization that barred Catholics. The organization quickly acquired an anti-union cast. Among other things, the APA claimed that the Catholic leader of the Knights, Terence V. Powderly, was part of a larger conspiracy against American institutions. Even so, the APA successfully recruited significant numbers of disaffected trade unionists in an era of economic hard times and the collapse of the Knights of Labor. This secret oath taken by members of the American Protective Association in the 1890s revealed the depth of Protestant distrust and fear of Catholics holding public office.

A Mormon Woman's Life in Southern Utah

PRIMARY SOURCE Women who settled the West in the years after the Civil War often faced harsh and unremitting toil. Laboring from well before dawn until well after the sun had set, women helped plant and harvest crops, raised large families, and kept house with rudimentary equipment. Long periods of isolation from neighbors and kin were common; social occasions or visits by travelers and kin were rare and cherished events. Mary Ann Hafen immigrated from Switzerland to Utah with her Mormon family in 1860 at age six and her first husband died when she was barely twenty. In this account, she described her move from Utah to Nevada in 1891 with her second husband and their polygamous family, as well as their subsequent life there.

"All To Me Was New and Strange": Mary Doolittle Leaves Her Family for a Shaker Community, 1830

PRIMARY SOURCE During the second quarter of the 19th century numerous radical movements emerged, and some withdrew from society and formed ideal or utopian communities. The Shakers (or Shaking Quakers) were the oldest and largest of these utopian movements, founded in Great Britain by Mother Ann Lee, who arrived in North America in 1774. Shakers abandoned the traditional family in favor of a new fellowship of men and women who lived as brothers and sisters, worked in agriculture and artisanal crafts, and adopted the practices of cooperation and celibacy. Many were attracted to their communitarian message, especially women like Mary Doolittle of New Lebanon, New York, who joined the local Shakers (the second of what became 19 communities stretching from New England, across New York, to Ohio and Kentucky). Doolittle narrates her initial emotional conflict between family and belief, and the suspicion, even hostility, of local people toward her new "Family," as Shaker units were called.

"My Heart Was So Full of Love That It Overflowed": Charles Grandison Finney Experiences Conversion

PRIMARY SOURCE In the 1820s and 1830s, a new democratic and individualistic Protestantism appealed to the emerging middle class of the northeastern United States. The chief spokesperson for that revivalist movement was Charles Grandison Finney. Born in Litchfield County, Connecticut, and transplanted like many others to western New York, Finney found the practice of law unsatisfying. The conversion experience that he narrates in this selection from his Memoirs of Rev. Charles G. Finney (1876) altered the course of his life. For the next decade he focused his energies on preaching in western New York, the region known as the "Burned Over District" for its reputation as a hotbed of revivalism. Middle-class Americans were attracted to his doctrine, which emphasized the individual's need to assume moral responsibility, and rejected older beliefs about divine providence as the only route to salvation. His Lectures on Revivals (1835) became a handbook for American revivalists and Finney became a professor at, and later president of, Oberlin College.

A German Jewish Woman Settles in North Dakota

PRIMARY SOURCE Women who settled the West in the years after the Civil War often faced harsh and unremitting toil. Laboring from well before dawn until well after the sun had set, women helped plant and harvest crops, raised large families, and kept house with the most primitive of equipment. Long periods of isolation from neighbors and kin were common; social occasions or visits by travelers and kin were rare and cherished events. Sarah Thal, a German Jew who immigrated to North Dakota in 1882, recalled that "getting mail was a big event" on their North Dakota farm and that when she looked out the window onto the flat prairie she was "still unable to realize the completeness of our isolation."

Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments of the Grange

PRIMARY SOURCE This source shows the use of religious symbolism for secular issues during the 19th c. When the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry was first organized in Minnesota in December 1867, its goals were primarily social and educational. The Grange's purpose expanded as it grew in numbers. It experimented with cooperatives, and, angered by hard times, tight money, and high railroad shipping rates, moved into politics. Members elected sympathetic state legislators who passed laws (most of them later declared unconstitutional) regulating railroad and grain elevator charges. Some of the anger of the Grangers was reflected in "The Ten Commandments of the Grange," an 1874 manifesto that revealed their antipathy to railroads, monopolies, lawyers, and merchants. Like many other late nineteenth-century Americans, Grangers demonstrated anti semitic beliefs by blaming "Jewish middlemen" for their troubles, when, in fact, few of the financiers and merchants who shaped their fate were Jewish. When agricultural conditions in the Midwest improved in the 1880s, the Grange's membership dropped to 150,000. The Farmers Alliance (or Populists) soon replaced the Grange as the primary voice of radical agrarianism.

A Christ-like Character: A Catholic Priest Champions Henry George

PRIMARY SOURCE In the late 19th century, Irish-Catholic immigrants and their children were a bulwark of the New York Democratic Party and especially the machine politicians of Tammany Hall. In the mayoral election of 1886, Tammany fought hard to retain the support of these Irish-Catholic voters in the race between Democrat Abram Hewitt and United Labor Party candidate Henry George. While Catholic Church leaders opposed George and actively worked to prevent his election, Father Edward McGlynn enthusiastically backed his candidacy and praised him in this 1886 interview. Several years earlier McGlynn had read George's Progress and Poverty and had become a committed supporter of his single-tax economic theories. McGlynn's persistent labor activism led to his excommunication in 1887. Although pressure from liberal Catholics brought about his reinstatement in 1892, his superior soon transferred him to upstate New York, thereby removing his voice from the local labor scene.

"We Sang Rock of Ages": Frances Willard Battles Alcohol in the late 19th Century

PRIMARY SOURCE Among the social movements joined and led by women in the late 19th century, including unionization and women's suffrage, none had either the widespread fervor or success enjoyed by the temperance movement. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), founded in 1873, drew widespread support from labor movements such as the Knights of Labor by linking the fight against liquor with the desire to protect home and family against the ravages of the new industrial order. Frances Willard was one of the leaders of the WCTU who vocally sought the alliance of the temperance movement with Labor. In this selection from her autobiography, Willard described the WCTU's most widely known tactic, the praying-in-saloons crusade.

What's Good for the Goose. . . : Labor and the Theory of Evolution

PRIMARY SOURCE In the late 19th century, William Graham Sumner, an Episcopal minister turned academic sociologist, applied Darwin's scientific ideas of evolution to the social sphere to produce his theory of the economic survival of the fittest. Sumner's writings justified government inaction in the face of vast social dislocations caused by rapid industrialization and the periodic economic depressions that accompanied it. Critics of the new industrial order rejected the rigid "laws" propounded by Sumner and other conservative social scientists. They countered with their own laws of social development based on alternative readings of nature and science. Some labor thinkers proposed a sort of working-class social Darwinism, which turned the ideas of conservatives on their head. This 1893 piece from the Locomotive Firemen's Magazine offered a sharp retort to those who preached a hands-off, Darwinian approach to "helping" the laboring masses cope with economic dislocations caused by industrialization.

Cain and Abel Revisited: A Case for Keeping thy Brother

PRIMARY SOURCE In order to challenge the emphasis on extreme economic individualism espoused by Gilded Age industrialists and laissez-faire theorists, labor writers drew on diverse historical and religious traditions. Jose Gros, writing in The Carpenter in 1895, turned to religious traditions, specifically the biblical parable of Cain and Abel. Gros used the parable's central question - "Am I my brother's keeper?"- to criticize economic individualism and make the case for cooperation and brotherhood.

"Their Habits Of Order Are Carried to the Extreme" - A Lowell Mill Worker Visits the Shakers

PRIMARY SOURCE In the second quarter of the nineteenth century numerous reform movements emerged; some people even chose to withdraw from society and form ideal or utopian communities. The Shakers were the oldest of these utopian movements. Founded by Mother Ann Lee in 1774, they abandoned the traditional family in favor of a new fellowship of men and women living as celibate brothers and sisters. Many entered Shaker communities in the 1820s and 1830s, attracted by their equality and simple, but spiritual, lifestyle. This anonymous Lowell mill worker made two visits to a Shaker community in New York State and offered a glimpse into the isolated world within. Her opinions changed over time as she found some interesting similarities to factory life; the Shakers were as industrious as any factory worker, paying close attention to their bell schedule.

Pilgrims' Progress: A Seventeenth Century Solution to the Nineteenth Century Conflict between Labor and Capital

PRIMARY SOURCE In order to challenge the emphasis on extreme economic individualism espoused by Gilded Age industrialists and laissez-faire theorists in the late 19th century, labor writers drew on diverse historical and religious traditions. Massachusetts labor reformer George McNeill, for example, found in early Pilgrim life and thought the roots of a rejected American tradition of commonwealth and cooperative activity that he thought should be rekindled. In this 1884 piece published in the Cigar Makers' Official Journal, McNeill invoked the tradition of cooperative living that sustained the Pilgrims in the 1600s in New England as a role model for modern relations between labor and capital.

A Workingman's Prayer for the Masses

PRIMARY SOURCE Working people and wealthy industrialists differed widely about their relationship in the late 19th century. In his essay "Wealth," published in the North American Review in 1889, industrialist Andrew Carnegie argued that individual capitalists were bound by duty to play a broader cultural and social role to improve the world. (The essay later became famous under the title "The Gospel of Wealth.") But not everyone agreed with Carnegie's perspective. This 1894 "prayer" by "A Workman" (an anonymous contributor to the National Labor Tribune) was a sarcastic critique of Carnegie's paternalism and philanthropy.

Introducing New Recruits to "Labor's Catechism"

PRIMARY SOURCE Religious ideas and language can be found everywhere in the words and perspectives of many late nineteenth-century American workers. The New and Old Testaments provided not only personal support to many working people but also offered allusions and parables they applied directly to their lives and struggles in industrial America. Working-class ideas and writing were often based on stark prophesies of imminent doom for capitalists who worshipped at Mammon's temple and imminent redemption for hard-working, long-suffering, and God-fearing laboring men and women. Christ was uniformly depicted in workers' writing as a poor workingman put on Earth to teach the simple principles of brotherhood and unionism.

"The Brotherhood of Man:" A Unionist Uses the Bible

PRIMARY SOURCE Working-class ideas and writing often were cast in stark prophesies of imminent doom for capitalists and imminent redemption for hard-working, long-suffering, and God-fearing laboring men and women. Christ was uniformly depicted in workers' writing as a poor workingman put on Earth to teach the principles of brotherhood and unionism. Trade unionist William D. Mahon chastised organized religion for ignoring its "true mission" to "establish the brotherhood of man" in this 1899 speech urging a strong church role in helping the labor movement.

Was Christ a Union Man?

PRIMARY SOURCE Religious concepts and metaphors appeared throughout the words and ideas of late nineteenth-century American workers. The Bible provided not only personal support to many working people but also a set of allusions and parables they applied directly to their lives and struggles in industrial America. Working-class ideas and writing often were cast in stark millenarian [end of time] terms, with prophesies of imminent doom for capitalists who worshipped at "Mammon's temple" and imminent redemption for hard-working, long-suffering, and God-fearing laboring men and women.

"In the Sight of God:" Woes of a Miner's Wife

PRIMARY SOURCE Indiana coal miner's wife Ettie West longed for the "good and religious" ways of her mother's time in this letter to the editor, published in 1900 in The United Mine Workers Journal. The letter shows how religious concepts, symbolism and metaphors became a fundamental part of labor thinking in the late 19th century.

What is Westward Expansion?

WEB RESOURCE This National Geographic article discusses Manifest Destiny. This was the belief that it was settlers' God-given duty and right to settle the North American continent. The notion of Manifest Destiny contributed to why European settlers felt they had a right to claim land, both inhabited and uninhabited, in western North America. They believed it was the white man's destiny to prosper and spread Christianity by claiming and controlling land.

Religion and Reform in 19th Century America

WEB RESOURCE This National Humanities Center web power point describes key issues related to religious thinking 19th c. US history. I focuses on big questions and primary source for reform movements such as abolition, women's equality, temperance, etc.