A few weeks before Peter W. Williams, ed., Perspectives on American Religion and Culture, (Blackwells, Oxford 1999) arrived, I met a Chinese-American professor whose dress, accent and confidence suggested a long-established American family. In fact she was of Chinese-Vietnamese parents, brought up in Cambodia and had spent two years as a boat refugee.
Often forgotten in any analysis of American constitutional rights is the extent to which those rights are grounded in the state-level revolutionary settlements prior to 1787.
David J. Silverman has written a very accessible and compelling book on a little-known subject which sheds much light on race issues in early America. Most readers will probably never have heard of the Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians, two communities which encompassed various Native American tribes and embraced Christianity in the 18th century.
Over the last three decades, histories of popular politics in Latin America have proliferated. It is not hard to understand why. Elections and liberalism loomed large in the present, and so their history began to assume more importance. Larger trends in the discipline reinforced the shift, as historians tipped the interpretive scales away from socio-economic structures and towards agency.
Until about 15 years ago the complex history of the links between the north of Ireland and colonial America was something of a brackish backwater in 18th-century Atlantic studies. Admittedly, the internal history of Ulster Presbyterianism had already come alive, thanks to the work of David Hayton on the early 18th century, and of David Miller and Ian McBride on the final decades.
Scholars of modern Jewish life have largely focused on Jews’ position in the nation-states in which they live.
American evangelicalism has, for some time, been dominated by Baptists. American Baptist churches attract tens of millions of worshippers, and the Southern Baptist Convention stands unrivalled as the single largest Protestant denomination in the country. And yet, despite their numerical hegemony, American Baptists have not attracted commensurate attention from historians.
In 1775, Samuel Johnson had already identified the central paradox of United States history. He notoriously challenged British readers to explain why ‘we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes’. Generations of historians have tried to answer that question. How could a movement espousing belief in liberty include so many slaveholders?
Jane Lead and the Philadelphian Society are not particularly well known figures to most scholars of late 17th- and early 18th-century religion. Born in 1624, Lead experienced a spiritual awakening aged 16. On Christmas Day 1640, while her family danced and celebrated, she was overwhelmed with a ‘beam of Godly light’ and a gentle inner voice offering spiritual guidance.
A simple man from humble beginnings, Joseph Warren earned himself the titles of doctor, husband, father, author, leader, soldier, and martyr through his expressions of compassion and qualities of leadership. With a sense of moral righteousness, as well as deeply rooted personal motivations, Warren fought for American independence with both the pen and the sword.