Tag Archives: American Revolution

U.S. Religion Updates

I thought it would be appropriate to provide some updates of blogs I’ve done on U.S. Religious History.

Last September, I reflected on ways I expected to encounter religious beliefs in my “American Revolution and Early Republic” class.

Then, at the end of the class, I was able to turn around and report what had worked out.

In January, I filed a quick note on recent books by Paul Harvey. But note: this Paul Harvey is not a daily news commentator but an historian writing about religion in the American South.

Then, this past month, I returned to the theme of religion in the American Revolution with a notice of Daniel Dreisbach’s new book Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers.

And, in between those posts, I’ve been thinking about new topics to cover here and in my monthly Religion in American History blog entry.

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Teaching the American Revolution and Early Republic

As I always like to say, “Nothing says up-to-date like two months between blog posts!”

The semester has now begun at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul.

This semester, I’m teaching an “Honors Western Civilization” class, as well as the first half of our U.S. History Survey.

I also have the chance to teach an upper-level class in “The American Revolution and Early Republic.”

Some people have asked about readings. The books I’m assigning are these:

Ellis, Joseph. Founding Brothers. NY: Knopf, 2000.

Fischer, David Hackett. Washington’s Crossing. NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Frohnen, Bruce. The American Republic. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002.

Kidd, Thomas. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution. NY: Basic Books, 2010.

Morgan, Edmund. The Birth of the Republic, 1763-89, 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Course Packet. Includes articles and primary sources.

The class already has a great vibe, and I’m looking forward to the class debates that start next week (for instance–“Should America declare independence?”). One other wrinkle that I’ll be throwing is playing selections from the Hamilton musical to keep us all on our toes. And, not to disappoint, we will talk about the Federalists.

Earlier this week I reflected on how I’m also planning to integrate religious history into the course. You can read that post here.

And now…off to class!

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Alexander Hamilton, After a Delay

I try to link (relatively) quickly to material elsewhere, but this one got away from me.

Early in March I posted a blog post on “Religion and Hamilton.” I contended that the smash Broadway hit Hamilton would be great for teaching, not only about the American Revolution in general but about religion in the American Revolution in particular.

Since I’ve published the piece, I’ve found several things:

1. The piece got mentioned on John Fea’s blog.

2. There are a lot of fans of the musical–and rightfully so!

3. The piece has resonated, which seems like a good thing for a piece about music.

So, in case you missed it, check the piece out!

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Jacob Green and the Fourth of July

I hope my US readers had a pleasant 4th of July holiday. Mine involved a picnic with friends, being ambushed by water balloons, and reading the Declaration of Independence to friends and family. (I hope international readers had a pleasant 4th, too–I’m just guessing there wasn’t the same volume as fireworks involved.)

Before we leave our Independence-Day thoughts, let me link you to my monthly post at the Religion in American History blog.

I remember Independence Day by reflecting on a recent book that connects the lives of 3 men caught up in the American Revolution–Presbyterian minister Jacob Green, his son Ashbel Green, and the counterpoint Anglican priest Thomas Bradbury Chandler.

I enjoyed the book and thought many other people might enjoy it. Apparently Penn State press has moved it to paperback.

Anyway, do check out the piece.

And, to quote my children’s favorite expression of the week-end, “Happy Birthday, America!”

Rohrer Cover

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Fall Semester, 2014

It’s the first day of classes at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, Minnesota, and in an hour I’ll be tramping out of my office for my first class of the year.

Inspired by several posts I’ve seen (such as this one), I thought I’d identify what I’m teaching this semester. I have three full-semester classes, with plenty of reading in each of them:

1. Honors History of Western Civilization

Augustine, Confessions, trans. Garry Wills, (NY: Penguin Classics, 2008).

John Locke, 2nd Treatise on Government (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1980).

Friedrich Nietzsche, Nietzsche and the Death of God (Boston: Bedford/ St. Martins, 2006).

John Olin, ed. A Reformation Debate: John Calvin and Jacopo Sadoleto (NY: Fordham University Press, 2000).

Thomas West and Grace S. West, eds., Four Texts on Socrates (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998).

Course Packet with LOTS of Primary Sources.

2. U.S. History to 1877

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave and Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (NY: The Modern Library, 2004).

John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011).

David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride (NY: Oxford University Press, 1994).

David Harrell, Jr., et. al, Unto a Good Land, Vol. I, To 1900 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).

George Marsden, A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008).

LOTS of Primary Sources.

3. American Religious History (aka, Religion in American History)

Larry Eskridge, God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (NY: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Edwin Gaustad and Mark Noll, eds., A Documentary History of Religion in America, 3rd edition, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

George Marsden, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment (NY: Basic Books, 2014).

Mark Massa, Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team (NY: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1999).

Chaim Potok, The Chosen (NY: Fawcett, 1987).

I’m excited for each class in its own way. I know from experience that each of them has the potential to be a great–even transformative–experience.

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Religion and the American Revolution, July 2014 edition

It’s the middle of summer, and what better way to reinvigorate the blog, than with a post about Religion and the American Revolution!

In honor of the 4th of July week-end, I posted on this subject at the Religion in American History blog.

In this post, I talked about a volume recently released, entitled Faith and the Founders of the American Republic, edited by Daniel Dreisbach and Mark Hall. The volume featured 14 scholars (including myself!) writing on the subject.Dreisbach and Hall

Although I’m definitely self-interested, I think this is an important volume that moves the conversation forward toward better understanding of the topic.

As I say in my review:

These authors are writing as serious scholars deeply desiring to understand the past properly. This is no polemic–indeed, the editors entirely bracket any contemporary reflections. Rather, by bringing in multiple voices, the editors have shown that religion in the founding period operated in multiple ways and interacted with Enlightened and secular political thought to create a distinctive American mix.

It’s well worth the read.

Further, you’ll get insight into how religious commitments shaped the political culture of the period how such commitments shaped several important founders. My chapter on this latter topic features Elias Boudinot, an important Presbyterian from New Jersey–and a character who plays a big role in my forthcoming book. So, get a sneak peak into understanding Boudinot with this chapter! And, sample the other chapters while you’re at it!

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Religious Loyalists?

As Christmas music wafts around me, I’m quite aware that it’s been awhile since the last post. My only excuse is that the last month of the semester has been really busy. The end is near, though, as I only have one more week of classes and then a week of final exams.

As I’m blogging, let me say that I do have some new content!

Over at the Religion in American History blog, I have a new post up on a teaching challenge I encountered in my American Revolution class this semester–how to teach about religious Loyalists. Not everyone supported the Revolution, and many who opposed it did it for religious reasons. The majority of these opponents were Anglicans, but Quakers and other groups could also fall into this camp. In my post, I elaborate on how I attempted to communicate a perspective that was largely foreign to my students.

Check it out!

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