The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Chapter 8 (Part 4) :: What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “The Puritan-pietistic religious tradition so powerful in America had perpetuated and disseminated millennialism in the United States. Catholic rejection of the doctrine of the millennium affected the attitude of the church in America in at least two ways. It meant that the church lacked the millennial sense of urgency, widespread among evangelical Protestants, to remake the world and fit it for Christ’s return; it also meant that Catholics did not share in the belief that the United States had a special role, analogous to that of ancient Israel , as an example of divine providence to the rest of the world. While Protestant churches synthesized Christianity with the Enlightenment’s science, individual rights, and faith in progress, the nineteenth-century Church of Rome did not. In an age when Americans’ belief in progress was typically associated with millennial hopes, Catholic doctrine accepted neither the idea of secular progress nor the millennium.”
  • “Nat Turner listened to “the Spirit that spoke to the prophets in former days” and interpreted signs of divinity in the world around him. Like Isaiah, he heard the Spirit tell him to “proclaim liberty to the captives” and “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61: 1– 2). Turner decided that “the great day of judgment was at hand,” when he would become God’s instrument.”
  • “Conservatives conceded that the state would be better off with fewer slaves and a more industrial-commercial economy, but argued that the domestic slave trade would suffice to drain off surplus black laborers from Virginia to the trans-Appalachian Southwest, without legislative intervention.”

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: “Alone among major religious denominations in the antebellum United States, the Roman Catholic Church did not teach the doctrine of the millennium.”
  • Explain and Expand: “When a politically conservative association in the Austrian Empire set about raising funds to proselytize for Catholicism in the United States, it set off alarm bells among certain American evangelicals.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Morse’s strident warnings were among the earliest expressions of a movement known as nativism that would become more powerful after Catholic immigration increased during the late 1840s.”
  • Explain and Expand: “In the wee hours of Monday, August 22, 1831, a trusted family slave climbed through the window of his master’s house and unbarred the door for six companions armed with axes.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Turner’s Uprising provoked a huge debate among white Virginians over what lessons they should draw from it.”
  • Explain and Expand: “A Calhoun Democrat, like his Carolina mentor he had long backed public funding for internal improvements.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading