PART II: IN GOD WE TRUST, 1770-1870
Between the Revolution and the Civil War a new nation was founded and expanded westward, a national identity was forged and served by a civil religion, and the nation was divided by the violence of civil war.
American religious life, like the new nation itself, was transformed by democratic currents, experimentation and tensions. The number of religious institutions expanded, Americans had a wider choice as more religious denominations competed for members and more Americans were members of churches by 1860 than before the Revolution. New religions burgeoned in the benign climate of religious freedom.
Although greatly increased religious diversity marked national life, evangelical revivalism became the dominant note of American Protestantism.
Motivated by religious faith, church members joined voluntary societies to campaign for various reform movements. The most contentious, abolitionism, became part of the polarization that descended into violence and civil war.
Just as the Revolution with its heroes, republican ideals, and millennial themes shaped early American civil religion, the Civil War contributed themes of sacrifice and martyrdom to advance the narrative of a nation under divine protection and judgment.
BE SURE TO CHECK THE CAUCUS ITEM FOR PART II TO ASK QUESTIONS AND DISCUSS ISSUES RAISED BY THE SOURCES AND LECTURES