In Colonial America, clergymen stood as thought leaders in their local communities. They stood at the head of their congregations and many community members looked to them for knowledge and insight about the world around them.
So what happened to these trusted, educated men during the American Revolution? How did they choose their political allegiances? And what work did they undertake to aid or hinder the revolutionary cause?
Spencer McBride, an editor at the Joseph Smith Papers documentary editing project, joins us to explore some of the ways politics and religion intersected during the American Revolution with details from his book, Pulpit and Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Spencer McBride, an editor at the Joseph Smith Papers documentary editing project and author of Pulpit and Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America, joins us to explore some of the ways politics and religion intersected during the American Revolution.
During our exploration, Spencer reveals how clergymen participated in politics before the Revolution; How clergymen participated in politics during and after the Revolution; And, what early Americans thought about the participation of clergymen in politics.
What You’ll Discover
- How American clergymen participated in politics prior to the American Revolution
- Clergymen and political officeholding in colonial British America
- How the Revolution changed the way American clergymen participated in politics
- The Continental Congress and fast days
- The role of chaplains in the Continental Congress and Continental Army
- How clergymen dealt with the need to choose a political side during the Revolution
- The participation of clergy in the ratification debates over the Constitution of 1787
- The myth that the President of the United States needs to be a Christian
- What early Americans thought about the participation of clergymen in politics after the Revolution
- Why Spencer thinks religion tainted early American politics
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Spencer McBride
- Spencer’s Website
- Spencer on Twitter: @SpencerWMcBride
- Pulpit and Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America
- Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
- William and Mary Quarterly
- Episode 105: Josh Piker, How Historians Publish History (Behind-the-Scenes of the WMQ)
- Episode 045: Spencer McBride, Joseph Smith and the Founding of Mormonism
- Episode 112: Mary Beth Norton, The Tea Crisis of 1773
- Episode 117: Annette Gordon-Reed, The Life & Ideas of Thomas Jefferson
- Episode 123: Revolutionary Allegiances
- Episode 129: John Bell, The Road to Concord
- Episode 130: Paul Revere’s Ride Through History
In your opinion, what might have happened if Congress had not asked and encouraged clergymen to play a role in the American Revolution? How would the lack of fast days and army chaplains have affected the outcome of the American Revolution and its War for Independence?
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