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Evangelicals at a Crossroads: Revivalism and Social Reform in Boston, 1860-1910

Revivalism and Social Reform in Boston, 1860-1910

Benjamin L. Hartley

Publication Year: 2011

Benjamin L. Hartley brings to light the little-known story of relative latecomers to Boston's religious scene: Methodist, Salvation Army, Baptist, and nondenominational Christians. Focusing on Congregationalists and Roman Catholics, Boston urban historians have largely overlooked these groups. Hartley, however, sheds light on the role of immigrant evangelical leaders from Italy, Sweden, and elsewhere in revivalism and social reform in postbellum Boston. Further, examining the contested nature of revivalism and social reform in a particular, local nineteenth-century context provides a basis for understanding the roots of current divisions in American Protestantism and the contentious role of evangelical religion in American politics. Hartley documents the importance of the American holiness movement as a precursor to the significant presence of Pentecostal groups in urban America, adding an important historical context for evangelical social action today.

Published by: University of New Hampshire Press

Series: Revisiting New England


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Series Page

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Title Page

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Crossroads—both literal and figurative—can be creative places where one feels gratitude for one’s companions along the way, or they can be places of considerable loneliness and confusion. The writing of this book has thankfully been characterized...

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pp. 1-14

In recent years, prominent American evangelicals such as Jim Wallis and Rick Warren have described themselves as “nineteenth-century evangelicals” and have expressed their desire to take contemporary evangelicals “back to the nineteenth...

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1. D. L. Moody Arrives in a Changing Boston: “There Is a Magnetism in His Voice”

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pp. 15-31

No single event better represents the evangelical crossroads in Boston in the late nineteenth century than the 1877 Moody revival. Like a magnifying glass focusing the sun’s energy into one spot, the Moody campaign illustrates how a wide variety of evangelicals...

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2. The Early Years of Evangelical Institution Building, 1858–1883: “Good! You’ve Got the Fire in You”

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pp. 33-64

In order to set the context of evangelical beginnings in social reform it is necessary to go back twenty years prior to the 1877 Moody revival, to a time immediately preceding the Civil War when postmillennial optimism coursed through the veins of New England...

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3. Evangelicals and Boston Politics: “The Next Protestant Move Will Be No Boys’ Play”

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pp. 65-92

Evangelical enthusiasm for institution building and revivalism in the years immediately prior to and following the Civil War was accompanied by equal enthusiasm for more explicitly political activity in Boston. Upstart evangelicals, as they viewed their crossroads...

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4. The Salvation Army and Other Evangelical Organizations Led by Women, 1884–1892: “Aggressive Christianity”

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pp. 93-116

It was pouring rain on March 23, 1869, in Boston, but this could not keep six Methodist women from gathering at Tremont Street Methodist Episcopal Church in the South End for the founding meeting of the Methodist Episcopal Woman’s Foreign...

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5. Evangelical Consensus and Division: “All of This Confusion and Hurt”

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pp. 117-135

There is no precise “crossroads moment” in the history of Boston evangelicalism, where one group of evangelicals marched decisively down one road and another went a different direction. Rather than Robert Frost’s image of two roads diverging in the peace...

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6. The North End and South End in the 1890s: “Let Us Re-take the North End for Methodism”

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pp. 137-164

Boston had become the most Catholic city in America by 1890. The evangelicals had to adapt to this changing environment. Accepting this change was not easy for Protestants even though the signs of this new demographic reality had been building...

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Conclusion: “The Most Marvelous Revival of All of Her History”

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pp. 165-179

In 1906 and 1909 Boston once again played host to two dynamic evangelists who sought to bring revival to the city as D. L. Moody had done thirty years earlier. Moody had died in 1899, and the visiting evangelists, local pastors, and laypersons invoked his memory...


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pp. 181-253


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pp. 255-276


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pp. 277-288

E-ISBN-13: 9781584659419
E-ISBN-10: 1584659416
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584659280

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Revisiting New England
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OCLC Number: 823889144
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Evangelicals at a Crossroads: Revivalism and Social Reform in Boston, 1860-1910

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Evangelicalism -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- History -- 19th century.
  • Evangelicalism -- Social aspects -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- History -- 19th century.
  • Church and social problems -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- History -- 19th century.
  • Revivals -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- History -- 19th century.
  • Boston (Mass.) -- Church history -- 19th century.
  • Boston (Mass.) -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
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