Journal of American History Review

I recently opened up my newly-arrived Journal of American History (December 2015 issue) and scanned the table of contents. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see a review of Patriotism and Piety!

John Compton of Chapman University provided the review. He offered a clear summary of the book’s argument and content. I most appreciated his introductory and concluding paragraphs.

He opened with:

In Patriotism and Piety Jonathan J. Den Hartog casts the familiar story of the Federalist struggle against Jeffersonian “infidelity” in a new light. He shows that leading Federalists, so often depicted as supporters of established religion and theological orthodoxy, staked out a range of positions on the question of religion’s role in public life. Moreover, he demonstrates that Federalist views on the church-state relationship evolved over time and in directions that would continue to shape American politics long after the last of the New England religious establishments had crumbled.

I’m always happy to place things “in a new light.”

Moreover, Compton saw at least one “original insight” in the book:

Den Hartog’s most original insight concerns the voluntarist phase of Federalist religious thought. He ends his study with the provocative claim that the out-of-power Federalists laid much of the groundwork for the Second Great Awakening. Instead of retreating “into an energetic pietism,” Federalist luminaries, including Jay and Boudinot, accepted leadership positions in the American Bible Society and other voluntary associations, thus “direct[ing] religious energy outward, into the world” (p. 204). In the process, they constructed an ecumenical infrastructure that would infuse the nation’s public life with a deeply religious sensibility for generations to come.

I’m appreciative of Compton’s close attention to the book’s claims and figures.

The entire review is available (although perhaps not for long) here.

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