The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Chapter 8 (Part 3) :: What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “True or not, the Book of Mormon is a powerful epic written on a grand scale with a host of characters, a narrative of human struggle and conflict, of divine intervention, heroic good and atrocious evil, of prophecy, morality, and law. Its narrative structure is complex. The idiom is that of the King James Version, which most Americans assumed to be appropriate for a divine revelation.”
  • “He continued to receive revelations from God (sometimes using a seer-stone) that amplified what was in the Book of Mormon and provided guidance to the faithful; these the LDS Church has codified as their Doctrine and Covenants.”
  • “They tended to be people of New England birth or heritage, carrying the cultural baggage of folk Puritanism (as distinguished from Calvinist theology): communalism, chiliasm, identification with ancient Israel, and the practice of magic. Often they had been involved in other Christian restorationist movements, but no particular denominational background predominated. The prophet and his followers perpetuated traditions of a culture, Richard Bushman explains, “in which the sacred and the profane intermingled and the Saints enjoyed supernatural gifts and powers as the frequent blessing of an interested God.””
  • “The Mormons did not passively await Christ’s millennial kingdom but worked to prepare for it. Their brand of premillennialism was as activist as any postmillennialism, and even more certain of a special millennial role for America.”
  • “His notorious order to the militia of October 27, 1838, reads: “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace.””
  • “The militia commander ordered Joseph Smith shot after a brief illegal court-martial, but the officer charged with the execution refused to carry it out. Turned over to the civil authorities, the prophet escaped custody five months later and joined his refugee people on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. There they immediately turned their faith and talents to building up another new community, larger and more beautiful, which they named Nauvoo.”

Thought Questions

  • What is millennialism? What is restorationism?
  • What was the “burned-over district” of western New York state
  • Who was Joseph Smith Jr.?
  • Describe the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during Smith’s leadership
  • Explain and Expand: “in 1831 the Saints moved into the Western Reserve area of northeastern Ohio, to a town called Kirtland.”
  • Explain and Expand: “For the next several years there would be two centers of Mormon settlement, one in Ohio and one in Missouri.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The speculation that American Indians constituted some of the Lost Tribes of Israel had been expressed by many writers over the years and was current in Smith’s milieu. Native Americans themselves sometimes endorsed the Lost Tribes theory of their origins.”
  • What was “the Word of Wisdom” and how did it impact the development of the latter day saints?
  • How did the economic crisis of 1837 impact the development of the latter day saints?
  • Describe the process that created the Mormon War of 1838?
  • Describe the events of the Mormon War of 1838
  • How was millennialism connected to the founding of the latter day saints?
  • In what ways did American “exceptionalism” impact the founding of the latter day saints?
  • In what ways did American “manifest destiny” impact the founding of the latter day saints?
  • Who was Alexander Campbell?
  • Who was Charles Finney?
  • Compare and Contrast: Charles Finney, Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith Jr.
  • Compare and Contrast: Pre-millennialism and Post-millennialism
  • Explain and Expand: “premillennialism appealing to the disinherited of this world”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Chapter 8: Pursuing the Millennium (Parts 1-3) – What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “We know— for God has told us— that there is a period of universal moral renovation approaching, and there is much in the aspect of Providence, which seems to indicate that our country is to have a prominent— may I not say— a principal instrumentality in the introduction of that period.”
  • “Progressive improvement in the condition of man is apparently the purpose of a superintending Providence,”
  • “The dim shadows of unborn nations… implore this country to fulfill the destiny to which she has been summoned by an all-wise Providence, and save a sinking world from temporal misery and eternal death.”
  • “While the postmillennial mainstream of American Protestantism identified the whole country as God’s new Israel and a model for the other nations, a host of sectarian movements proclaimed their own little communities as examples to mankind.”
  • “there is no adaptation of architecture to our wants and requirements; our houses are as little suited to our physical welfare, as our social laws are to our attractions and passions.”
  • “The interest aroused by communitarian social experiments in the United States on the eve of the industrial revolution revealed something about the mood and temper of the American public, its willingness to entertain a broad range of social and economic possibilities.”
  • “The tendency of American conditions, as well as the inclination of its people, was for diffusion rather than discipline, toward self-determination and away from supervision, however benign,”

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: ““Many people shared John Quincy Adams’s view of America as the country where God would bring His plans for humanity to fulfillment. But the blueprints for realizing this providential destiny could be far bolder and more presumptuous than Henry Clay’s American System.”
  • Describe some of the ways Americans of all faiths (or lack of) expressed millennialism attitudes
  • Describe the basic belief of “post-millennialism” and how it impacted American religious life
  • In what ways was the millennialism of the early Republic related to Colonial Puritanism?
  • Describe the characteristics of the “Second Great Awakening”
  • Compare and Contrast: The “First” and “Second” Great Awakenings
  • Explain and Expand: The relationship between the Second Great Awakening and Post Millennialism
  • Compare and Contrast: America before and after the “Second” Great Awakening
  • In what ways was the “Second” Great Awakenings the conclusion of the “First” Great Awakening
  • What “concluded” at the end of the “Second” Great Awakening?
  • Who were the principle American leaders of the Second Great Awakening?
  • What were the civic goals of the leaders of the Second Great Awakening?
  • How were international affairs considered in a post millennial world view?
  • Describe the relationship between post millennialism and Slavery
  • Who was William Miller? Who were The Millerites?
  • What is Pre millennialism?
  • Compare and Contrast: Pre and Post millennialism from a civic perspective?
  • Describe the relationship between pre millennialism and Slavery
  • Describe the naval battle at Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain and its aftermath
  • Explain and Expand: “to turn his back on fashionable deism and join a Baptist church.”
  • Describe the beginnings of Adventism
  • Compare and Contrast: German Pietism with Lutheranism
  • React and Respond: “Sociological theory long held that persons attracted to millenarian causes would be the marginalized and despairing, looking for compensatory consolation.”
  • Describe American utopianism and communitarianism
  • Describe the relationship between millennialism and utopianism
  • Describe prominent examples of American communitarian societies
  • Who was Albert Brisbane and what was the Associationism of Albert Brisbane
  • Explain and Expand: “since children like to play in dirt, he reasoned, they should be the trash collectors.”
  • Explain and Expand: “In this pre-Marxian vision, socialism would be achieved without revolution or violence.”
  • Compare and Contrast: Socialism and Marxism in an American context
  • What made the Shakers distinct among millennialism focused sects
  • Explain and Expand: “primitive Christian church recorded in the New Testament (Acts 2: 44 and 4: 32).”
  • Explain and Expand: “Catholic monasticism, the oldest form of religious communal life, also appeared in a still predominantly Protestant America. The parallels with other communitarian movements were considerable, including celibacy, self-discipline, and the rejection of worldly selfishness for alternative lifestyles.”
  • React and Respond: “with women’s orders more prominent than men’s.”
  • Who was Elizabeth Seton
  • Explain and Expand: “The life of Mother Seton’s male counterpart, Isaac Hecker, illustrated the parallel between utopian communities and Catholic religious orders.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Both pre- and postmillennial Christians have typically been interested in the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land”
  • Who was Isaac Mayer Wise
  • What was the significance of “The Confidence Man” by Herman Melville
  • Compare and Contrast: Perfectionism and Communitarianism
  • Affirm or Refute: “Most antebellum utopian communities were not fleeing the industrial revolution. Some (like Owenites and Associationists) explicitly endorsed it, while others (like Shakers and Perfectionists) seized the chance to make whatever use of it they could. The only communities that really did reject industrialization were two German Mennonite sects: the Amish, who had settled in Pennsylvania during colonial times, and the Dakota Hutterites, who came in the 1870s.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading