Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Junto: "How Do We Find Religion in the American Revolution?"

Check it out here. A taste:
On May 17, 1773, an advertisement appeared in the Massachusetts Gazette for a new book by English dissenting minister Micaiah Towgood (misidentified in the advertisement as Michael Twogood). The ad is interesting because it is one of only 67 items in that come up in a search of Readex’s American Historical Newspapers database for the period between 1764 and 1789 containing a particular trifecta of terms: “Jesus Christ,” “liberty”, and (to get both religion and cognates like religious and religiously) “religio*”.
Here are a few other searches for comparison, all for the period between 1764 and 1789.

Religio*, liberty, “Jesus Christ” – 67
“Jesus Christ” – 414
Jesus Christ – 997
Religio*, liberty – 8,209
Religio* – 28,362
Liberty – 71,881

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

If you went by American newspapers today, you'd barely know Christianity exists. ;-)

Newspapers weren't everything. Printed sermons were very influential during this period.

The Catechism of the Revolution

In sum, to resist a just government was “rebellion” against God. To resist tyranny was “self-defense,” which was required by God, because tyranny was not real government. This was a premise for revolution.

In eighteenth-century America, notable sermons were often printed and sold all over the colonies, and overseas. The publication of [Jonathan] Mayhew's January 30 sermon added to his already significant international prestige. As [John] Adams recalled, Mayhew “had raised a great reputation both in Europe and America, by the publication of a volume of seven sermons in the reign of King George the Second, 1749, and by many other writings, particularly a sermon in 1750, on the 30th of January.”