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tv   Katherine Carte Religion and the American Revolution - An Imperial...  CSPAN  August 23, 2021 7:02am-8:01am EDT

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this history post. : : : >> to help us understand what it meant for the people and the institutions who built this empire tonight we will
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put her faith in the associate professor of history at southern methodist university and the author of this brand-new book published by the university of north carolina press 2021. welcome to the program. >> thank you. pleasure to be here. host: where you coming from this evening? >> im in dallas texas at southern methodist. host: i hope you have air-conditioning. >> at least for now sometimes they turn it off at night. so far so good. host: we are excited to talk about your book i learned a lot and i'm excited to learn with the audience tonight. just as a reminder you will have a chance to ask questions for the second half of the program you can do that by submitting a question youtube or facebook or twitter will bring you into the conversation in a bit but i thought we might start by looking at the big piece on —-
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picture questions what does it mean to be a protestant and the british empire before the revolution and that's a great place to start because one of the most common misconceptions thinking about religion is starting with the framework overlooking the united states so before the revolution and people on both sides of the man take were invested british subjects on both sides had a shared protestant empire and it had two different kinds of connotations on one way it was a political so there is a lot of scholarship liking great britain using protestantism to glue people together against catholics that's a political version but it refers to religious institutions so the vast majority life took place
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protestant institutions and the nomination across the empire were all trans-atlantic they had footprints on both sides and a lot of different places and they communicated to pull the empire together. being a british protestant was part of an empire working on both sides of the atlantic promoting protestantism and it was different and nomination of the collaboration. host: you use a lovely metaphor of scaffolding in your book. you talk a little bit about who are the people and the institutions you just mentioned? how do they glue themselves together to make this imperial product? >> the scaffold is a way to
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get the religious institutions in this process the archival project is that the heart of this book but to really look at you who was communicating with him across the atlantic people on both sides are talking about a product so school is communicating with whom and what are the boundaries so what i found is that it has channeled through those institutional mechanisms through private societies with a whole host of other voluntary organizations handling money back and forth communicating back-and-forth but the other piece of that is they are emphasizing places inside the empire. i expected i would find communications is not british
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protestants and then some communication to say german protestants are scandinavian. there is a little dead of that but the vast majority is channeled within the structure of the empire. so built around the empire , that emphasizes how much politics is determining the shape of what is going on. host: i'm curious of the political aspect what occurred to me the british government hits hard towards the empire especially with a seven-year war and they don't have to worry about the threat that they see themselves as an empire to trade back-and-forth so they can prosper that way and then they don't have to worry about commerce like they used to. is there a corresponding shift in that time period with
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british protestants begin to really take up with each other in ways they have not before? >> in some ways, yes about the 17 twenties or thirties of that major pivot moment from the government side that is about that period where the different establishments in each colony in scotland and england start to converge so the rules of who is in and who is out to be tolerated and established those are too disruptive they start to converge so that means people can move around the empire without any concern they will be persecuted for their faith and also the same as the awakening movement getting going in the british atlantic
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with missionary groups in the effort to promote ied and revival and with that imperial and densification and going on at the same time. not sure the causal mechanism that that you are seeing across many different spheres of history at that moment. host: give us a sense of the established churches. there are some established churches and not colonies that religiosity and great britain with a great deal of impact on the colonies as well. >> one of the surprises was to realize how important the complex establishment of the british empire really was following on work done i'm not the first person to say this
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but at the end of the revolution britain has the settlement coming together at the end of the glorious revolution. so the kingdom of great britain has to established churches. then come in the aftermath of that the colonial establishments that are post. ten, those colonies can retain their establishments of across the british empire, there are three different established churches and one who is a dissenter in one place could be an establishment in another has to consequences on the one hand it makes a lot of people get invested in the language of religious liberty because you have communities that are considered real with legitimate religious actors who are also outside of the establishments everyone has a
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reason to be invested and that includes anglicans versa firstly argue for liberty and the northern colonies where they don't have a full church they want to have and then on the other hand groups that are invested in establishment and the idea the state has a role in governing religious life providing access to public worship so they are establishing at the same time on religious liberty because they have this establishment and then the other piece because it's rooted in active union, then it's really hard to badge. so the structures and habits of religious communities are built on top of that are super powerful. even with really strong voices
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in england who went to have the entire empire and the church of england nobody is willing to disrupt the active union so i feel that's where the establishment works to the benefit of falling the empire together. >> let's talk about the government's role how that was tied to government and policy what more does the government do on either side to promote this system that you talk about? >> the government sets the rules what is legitimate so governments across the board they don't get involved in theological fights between different branches of the presbyterian church.
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they will not weigh in on that there are serious disputes and different theological factions. on the other hand if you get a group really on the outside a small group who are burning bibles in the town square they are not afforded religious liberty that individuals committing crimes against the state that supports the protestant religion. so religious leaders don't need to go after them. the state will go after them. then there are privileges that go along with it. the naturalization act for the colonies required a protestant to have a certificate from a legitimate protestant minister so that role is held up a hat you have to have a church that has ministers you have to look
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a particular way and meet denominations and follow the rules to get that protection. the state provides that legitimacy there is some dispute but on the outside you will not get anywhere. >> a couple of people appear in your book but i encounter them before but to see them in the new way so the two-man bridge that goes between religion and politics lord dartmouth, secretary of state of the colonies and then the signer of the declaration of independence i had no inkling at all that he was a very religious man and how that as an important speaker in the anglican religion in that period.
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>> absolutely in both of the gentle man you called out were active in the awakening movement and that's important because that provides the glue because their leaders can move in different circles so he is seen on both sides of the atlantic legitimate moral actor as devout and reliable one of the surprising find something in the archive when i was in windsor i found some documents that when george the third was looking for a tutor for his sons, they were not well behaved and he was trying to get someone to hold it in line he suggested lord dartmouth take them on and he
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declined but what i found interesting is that dartmouth is part of the awakening movement but not the most traditional form of anglicanism but that was okay even of the king wasn't the awakened figure that by having 1 foot in the government and one for in religious circles could funnel resources back and forth between the two. a trustee for dartmouth college and people have a lot of faith in him. but on the other hand he is in government after the boston tea party he is done there is no amount of praying that people can do to bring himself back to his good graces but you can see that balance. host: what characterizes someone who has been awakened?
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>> the awakening movement was a powerful movement to reject the rigid rules of orthodoxy focusing on personal experience paying close attention to scripture and to emphasize a personal relationship with jesus which we would now call evangelicals i don't like that term because it's 21st century but people do draw a straight line between those groups so i do feel it's a most famous figure associated with that but from the establishment perspective that pico people from the awakened movement between the trans-atlantic and then establish communities in each place so they knit together groups that might otherwise
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drift apart. >> so where do the dissenters fit in with this equation and framework? >> it's a hard time. because on the one hand it anybody outside of the established church he is not a dissenter but a member of the church of scotland. on that level he is not really a dissenter those that are dissenting in england english presbyterian and baptist and then fellow travelers in north america. as in a weekend protestant in scotland that's why they bring him they reach a point where they say the best thinkers and leaders will come from scotland so they recruited him as the weekend leader and from
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there he is not a dissenter in north america either because there is not an establishment but he does move between the two networks and communicates with a lot of awakened protestants and then takes up the mantle of dissenters there is a conscious group of people and will work with that group of people when it serves purposes and he is very active to make sure no bishop comes to the colonies so that parliament will overstep to put a bishop in the colonies and then to end up with those were not that sympathetic to him like edgar stiles who is not in the awakened movement in order to promote the agenda to protect from the anglican bishop this is why the metaphor of scaffolding is so
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important because then you can see how they come together. >> are they trying to convince each other or is it to achieve all common goals. >> both and. there is money at stake there are great examples of dissenters someone like davies in the history of virginia as the weekend protestant because a presbyterian with the english one —- anglican establishment but when he is fundraising that he and his fellows are careful which words they use at which moment which community are we speaking to? he's also very careful man fundraising not to ostracize
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anglicans is not the church but people who are persecuting me but the church of england is fine because after his money comes from so they will fight the anglicans and those that will take at each other and get under each of their skin but when they need to they can collaborate. host: that's a good lesson how to shape your audience so we will be coming to your questions in a little bit we have a bench already eating people are excited to ask numerous questions but a point you just briefly mentioned of the american bishop one of the interesting points you make in your book is the scaffolding was malleable and flexible to redirect energy from various
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controversies. the anglican bishop was big for a while can you tell us about that and how this scaffolding that you see deflects that from becoming a reality? >> a couple things to keep in mind of the bishop controversy with the american revolution we focus on a very specific chunk of time 1765 through 68 or 69 is the issue with the bishop and the colonies is a major political issue anglicans have been arguing for a bishop doing all the way back to the early 18th century the issue is not new everyone involved in the religious institution agrees parliament has to act so all people in religious institutions are instrumental to parliament which is
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important because of parliament doesn't act there is no real threat what actually happens during the bishop controversy some people are very agitated saying there will be a bishop are other saying we desperately need one and those two sides together raise the temperature and then you have other voices from england saying relax. this will not happen and it is not a time parliament will reshape the church of england bishops have political power and no new diocese had been created for a long time it would be a very big act of parliament, and extreme extension of parliamentary authority. that wasn't going to happen. partly because no problematic in england and upset scottish
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presbyterians with religious authority but most anglicans did not want a bishop southern anglicans were very certain they wanted local control over their clergy in the main job of the bishop is to oversee a disciplined local clergy and the governor of maryland did not want external they wanted to select and discipline their own clergy so that becomes the us anglicans did not want it either. it is a political nonstarter but then it dissipates because with the more pressure on —- pressing issues come into play with the and tolerable act there's plenty of evidence for people who want to push against parliament you need to
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conjure up what parliament isn't doing anyway select a date deal but in a very specific context and then it sizzles with the actual things on the table. host: i thought it was interesting you light on —- you lay out how the american side they are agitated that it's great that will not happen we have other things to worry about right now. [laughter] >> he is writing some of the pamphlets they are agitating he really wants that but it is not politically feasible. host: and part of that crisis that we talk about that the crisis develops in the first year the american revolution how does it did in the scaffolding to be compromised in ways that cannot recover? >> the nonreligious issues
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divide religious communities so the more politicized the last on board with that english dissenters are they are not interested in arguing for revolution they want to protect the rights that they will not go the next step so with these divisions between anglicans you are pushing hard from the hierarchy but then apples people apart. so what happens it is particularly important the political apparatus and colonies tries to pull itself to be legitimate when the fighting breaks out as the colonies try to form revolutionary governments , they draw on the traditional
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relationships to legitimate themselves and religious leaders are caught in that in the places with a support the revolution particularly in new england sometimes religious leaders support the government because they feel it's important to support the people in that religious voices are at the table at this moment even if they don't agree but that is an important goal for them and then they can take opportunities and then those become moments that religious leaders can speak their mind in a particular light and the fact that
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structure exist that had to be created a particular site a public authority created by imperial protestantism but they are super excited and religious leaders are happy to support that it another way to see them defending. host: the pre- crisis. the things i testing and humiliation is a shared experience to reinforce protestantism? >> absolutely. we forget how much in 18 century people are at war but the seven-year war and all preceding that every time there is a crisis there are the continual celebrations of shared protestant identity and a constant repeating obviously any of historical experiences like the spanish armada and the way that britain stands to
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protect protestantism people have been hearing that over and over again it is divergent for them to use this tool to promote revolution. host: is real authority collapses in the colonies and they began to reconstitute themselves as states tapping into the shared experiences the continental congress tries to do that where before the british imperial government helps to unite but the collapse of that with the colonies that means trying to step into a vacuum so how do they appeal to these institutions and traditions to
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re-create what is collapsing or take the best but there was for their own purposes? >> the most powerful example is july 20th , 1775, religious leaders commented the most solemnly marked and widely celebrated and commemorated day of fasting they had ever seen everyone goes to church services. maybe in some places you see a loyalist specifically to condemn see could use that as a form of protest. and a few anglican clergy who refused to acknowledge because they refuse to acknowledge congress authority but it is a widely shared experience and in some ways of the revolution
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because so many things you have to plan in advance to get everyone on the same page in the 18th century. [laughter] the most widely celebrated daylight that. this is the time when the most people are looking at the revolutionary crisis i won't pretend it's more important than the declaration but the news of the declaration is shared on different days it is a little more spread out so that is a significant way congress tries to pull that together and they can do that 75 and 76 and then it starts to fade and then once you get into that after 1781 congress still to claire's days of thanksgiving and fasting then they stopped completely and
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you get a bottoming out because then to pull together ideologically but they don't have the apparatus someone say get farther along they cannot muster that shared experience that as the war breaks out and drags on and the scaffolding collapses is there a crisis of faith cracks. >> what is challenging about this product project that trans-atlantic scope is i think i was looking at religious leaders so those experiences are hard to get to there is great work done on the quaker communities where
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the challenges pacifism in choosing between these groups would divide families and cause intense things at the local level. i was looking at from 30000 feet those religious leaders this was a crisis but my favorite was a slave trader who becomes a minister in england in albany but when he gets the news the fighting has broken out in weeks of the congregation for services that 5:00 a.m. tuesday morning more than 200 people, so to imagine the scale of personal investment in the crisis to get people up at 5:00 a.m. on a tuesday. that is the most dramatic moment there is another
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interesting moment with a man by the name of jacob who is most remembered for having have an extra room on —- extra on —- extemporaneous prayer before congress it was a celebrated moment that he changed his mind about supporting the revolution, as many people did when it came to the declaration of independence resistance is one independence is another and he asked washington to stop the war and to paraphrase him stealing the words of john kerry of vietnam he says had you asked someone to be the last person to die for a bad cause we will lose this in washington you are the only one who can stop then you have to stop this you are the one with the authority and the moral credibility to save the american people washington washes his hands of this as
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fast as he can although he completely disagrees and then they have to flee to england so we do get some dramatic stories. >> with the new united states and no longer a british america how do these religious leaders on both sides try to pick up the pieces? >> are real important piece of that story with the british we have to remember they lost something have to respond to that that they are choice to frame the colonist as treasonous and nonreligious and to turn the attention to people were victims of the war and the people of the caribbean not getting enough food or where you had to flee.
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so they have to actively work to reshape that protestantism and they do but on the american side it is a huge challenge for the former members of the church of england and it takes years to fit that together it's also the moment when john wesley with the methodist piece of the awakening movement says he takes it upon himself to ordain clergy because he sees the boundaries of the church of england to be the political boundaries of the british empire so he does not have the after one —- authority to ordain clergy, he does take that for the colonies so that's when you see the methodist movement with one of the huge success stories in terms of religion organizations that moment they
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are founded before that period awakened members of the church of england. host: thank you very much for answering my questions and now we have audience questions the first one comes from sam how does communication within the protestant world look like. >> yes there are thousands of letters there are people like edward stiles who winds in newport during the 17 seventies of newport rhode island he speaks out people to write to so he has list of who he wants to write to and who is important fundraising is another place it is key so when the baptist raise money
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and rhode island they write back-and-forth about in all uk is likely to support this college including one there's a little * next to my name that says if you give him an honorary degree you leave you 100,000 when he dies. [laughter] nothing has changed. so one of the largest pieces of the network the weekend network and then huntington across the atlantic and then the incredible number of letters and then the other huge branch of this are digitized is the correspondence generated by the society propagation what
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is the anglican mission and those are thousands of letters. so a lot these are i need more money for my mission. they are very practical but then at the end of the letter talk about politics and did you hear this happened i'm worried about where it is going on with the stamp act so there is a fair amount politics embedded within that. host: thank you very much. here is another one. is there anything in the protestant system of beliefs that resulted protestant used or religious beliefs with a unifying factor? >> that is a fantastic question. there were a variety in each network different philosophies of the relationship between
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government and churches. government and state. the church of england is territorial but because the king of england is the head of the protestant interest which is a form policy effort that creates the clear place for protestants and others will reach out to the church so they came and of england and the archbishop of canterbury are places those are usually protestants so for instance i protestant community between the ukraine and russia as far as i can tell was wiped out that they petitioned so to
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trace where the petitions are around the world and then there are conscious efforts among the awakened protestants to reach out with the intention to reunite in overcoming the reformation and that is the more theological movement going back into the 17h century that these are more 17h century figures but they were committed and you have that going on. host: as a quick follow-up you talk about to the church of england what about the church of scotland? he is not the head so what does he get? >> this is important george
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the third was personally in anglican his personal relationship anglican clergy and the anglican context but he was a protector of the church of scotland so he is the head of the system and obligated to protect them and he discourages thing he doesn't take petitions to our troublemakers within the church of scotland but he does take petitions and accept letters of congratulations from dutch reformed congregations so he acknowledges the legitimacy of these different groups and does have an oath of office responsibility to protect the church of scotland.
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host: that make sense. next question is how does the warring ideologies impact different wrongs of society? >> that is an interesting question the people i was dealing with were overwhelmingly attached to establish churches and on the inside so part of that scaffolding the structures of politics and religion we enforced each other so there are people that are more on the outside of this that are around the fringes like her determined husband and the regulator movement in north carolina and there is a great book on this and people who try to call on the protestant
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ideas and use it as a level of protest they are usually successful because the people that religious institution don't take up their cause. the people i'm talking about they support slavery they support the establishment and every meaning of that word but that doesn't mean people lower down don't grab onto these ideas taking them in a new direction and after the revolution what is important then you start to see more legitimate movements because there's no control over those movements and then you see the african-american and clergy or
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the revivals of the free will baptist movements in new england that is at a different social level than these movements but that's after the revolution. host: up next what is the role of the roman catholic base as it connects with the dominant protestant communities? >> that's a fantastic question. i will rely on the work here relying on the work of us catholics in north america colonial catholics in the british empire in north america were pretty loyal to the british state they learn to work with in the english
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system and then once the revelation happened catholics disproportionately participate disproportionate to their numbers and use that as a lover to gain more citizenship rights to help redefined what religion looks like the other thing that's important is the french alliance makes it very clear the united states is not a protestant nation that they are working on it earlier than that to pull that alliance together that i need for that blocks congress from articulating that protestant if we just think of what the word religion refers to in the colonial period and in britain
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true religion does not include that but in the united states they will broaden that allowing catholics into that space so they will look for language when they exclude jews what they want is someone who adheres to serve in public office and acknowledges the old and new testament that will include any catholic or protestant anyone the christian or jews explicitly so they do get quite a lot of space. host: the next question comes from carl was the lack of a minister the reason it was so frowned upon is not structured enough? >> exactly. that's a huge part of the issue there is much more social leveling so even in
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england where quakers are legally dissenters under the act of toleration they are protected but those that gather it usually the three denominations baptist and independence quakers are in a separate category they are kept in a separate group and they get their own pieces of legislation and they don't swear oath so those two issues separate them. another piece that is important trying on the work that quakers are articulated very specific cosmology of themselves as a shared nation which separates them out
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loyalty to the british empire. even though they are loyal british subjects they are view of how transcendent history works it's not through the british empire and they would say that it is fighting the good fight to promote the second coming in transcendent history so quakers are a part with a little debt different understanding. host: the next question who use to interpret george washington at mount vernon with the scaffolding of the rise of the new nation what about the hebrews how are they affected? >> colossus is the right word so that when things collapsed there are opportunities and dangers and then sees new
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protections like jews can seek new protections and in other places it's a little more risky. it comes together after the revolution in the 17 nineties, dominant protestant groups in the us have to find new ways to influence policy and structure their version of protestant citizenship and the term as christian nation what will this look like? how will the nation be marked christian if it doesn't have a formally crushed on —- christian and structure at the top so if you can be included in those categories on the other hand it can make things very difficult and more ambiguous it is harder for a group and the best example
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would be indigenous americans. there is no part of federal or state law to recognize those as religious in the 19th century and there has been amazing work on defining how that process comes together in the leaders 281 —- so they don't have the capacity to appeal because people don't recognize that as religious so it takes on a different form. host: thank you. any insight or stories about the involvement of founding mothers in your research you mentioned a couple that what is the role of women in the protestant empire quick. >> the only one who really comes into my study about how you had to be a rich white man
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to be in this picture and the woman to provide a counterpoint is the head of the shakers looking at religious leaders and those who are very influential they are excluded from the network eyeballs looking at so if the network coalesced it was obvious that quakers were not in the network they are definitely trans-atlantic i word is very glad that they explained why that with that dominant protestant did not work with those people. so to see women's religious leadership in the revolutionary period i thank you have to come down from the trans-atlantic level and look at the local level. of course it is super
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important looking at women's charity work, winning one —- women holding congregations together during wartime, you will see a lot of very different phenomenons equally significant to people on the ground religious experience but they are excluded from universities and from the clergy and from these networks may reinforce societal hierarchies. host: what was the impact of revival protestantism that every man is his own priest during the revolution? >> there is a long-standing tradition there is a link between the awakening and the american revolution and then
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to find the ideological connection i don't see mine from the perspective of the religious leaders i was looking at and a lot of reasons for that they are overwhelmingly loyal to the domination wesley who is the essential leader is probably the best spokesman for the parliament during the first couple of years so the conservativism of those movements on issues of empire and race i think precluded them and then when you get down to the individual level you can find plenty of individuals who found that connection there as they were understanding those choices with a particular ideology or
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the tenant of their faith but i don't see that systemically. >> and try to draw that direct link and i am not a religious scholar about plot clarifies for things a great deal now i can change my lecture. >> you are smart enough to not see it. [laughter] and then to have a biography and real close detail and then to do the question and why he was committed to the british empire and he was and then as
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a spiritual founding father? i have a very hard time to understand and then as he nears the end of his life and then he defers to them and then tries to draw as much attention as he can but ultimately with the oath he took i had a protest. host: my reading file just grew in the last 30 seconds. so what is the next surprising thing you learned in research? >> this is my most frequent
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surprise. know if you've heard of william gordon but the first person to write the american revolution is usually left out of that narrative but in 1786 he published the trans-atlantic history of the american revolution a british guy and at the center and then goes back a fascinating character so she wrote letters to everybody famous and everybody else in most of the time they had pretty disparaging things and at first with beautiful clear handwriting to take upon himself to write to other people everything that was going on a historian stream letter. almost nobody wrote him back
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people do not appreciate this. i named him my archive past because i was in 45 archives for this project and he showed up in 30 of them he just wrote to everybody no way gordon will show up here. yes. he wrote to religious leaders and political leaders so by the end i am fond of him. [laughter] he died in england but someday i will go find his grave and just think him for his amazing sources he was underappreciated in his lifetime. >> maybe that your next project. >> you would think. [laughter] but in the end actually he did
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write his own story out and that's great made i will publish those someday but he is a historian's best friend and sometimes he wrote about his cat. [laughter] thank you very much i have learned a great deal and i appreciate it. >> i have enjoyed this a great deal this is fantastic and truly impressive. >> and we appreciate your attention and helping us have a great evening and thank you to jeanette patrick helping to keep things moving along joined by sam and our interns from washington college and they did a great job this evening thank you for joining us status at mount vernon in person when travel allowson mayo
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military processions in washington dc called the grand review of the armies drew thousands of spectators to pennsylvania avenue. president andrew johnson cabinet and government officials and general ulysses' s. grant watched from this reviewing stand in front of the white house. on may 23rd an estimated 80,000 soldiers of the army of the potomac led by general meade took about six hours t

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