Front Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xii

Since the publication of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America in the mid-nineteenth century, there has been a spate of books exploring the notions of American character and identity. During the later part of the twentieth century significant contributions were made to this area of concern by Will Herberg, Sidney E. Mead, and ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

I conceived of this book and began the preliminary research for it some years ago, when I was a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria, Canada. Initially an interdisciplinary dissertation in the English department, it nonetheless bears the imprints of many discussions with my advisor in political science, Dr. Warren Magnusson, ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-27

This book is about an aesthetic and historical meaning of civil religion in the United States of America. Though many equate civil religion with patriotism, with the love of country, the origin and history of the term cannot be reduced to this generality. This study considers civil religion in America as the religious modes, styles, and rhetoric ...

Part One: The Beginning of the American Revolution in the Conversion of Northampton

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1: The Travail of the Puritan Covenant

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pp. 31-52

The word “revivalism” often conjures up visions of modern-day evangelists, sometimes corrupt and bigoted, saving souls, taking money, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in fundamentalist ways. To argue that revivalism might hold revolutionary possibilities sounds strange and perverse to both the modern secular and ...

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2: Original Sin

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pp. 53-77

According to historian Harry S. Stout, “throughout the 1730s and 1740s most of the grievances facing New England were internal. Apart from the occasional attack from the Indians, New England’s borders were safe, and the chief concerns in those years were natural calamities.”1 Perhaps because of the relative tranquility of the ...

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3: God Is No Respecter of Persons

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pp. 78-95

Rather than dwelling on human happiness, Edwards recommends embracing religious “concern” and “God’s glory,” which he suggests lead to a new way of people being together in public that affects “their hearts.” He begins his account of the conversions in Northampton by reminiscing: “Our public assemblies were ...

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4: The “Strange Revolution”and the Aesthetics of Grace

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pp. 96-126

Though Edwards’s community did not contemplate egalitarian political participation or abolition of slavery, the communal participation he witnessed in the First Great Awakening offered the possibility of founding a heterogeneous religious structure. According to George Marsden, “Edwards explicitly denied that there was any ...

Part Two: The Second Great Awakening, the National Period, and Melville’s American Destiny

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5: Pierre; or, The Ambiguities and the Formation of the American Dilemma

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pp. 129-142

Jonathan Edwards died in 1758; Melville was born in 1819. Over this sixty-one-year span radical changes occurred in British North America. The British colonies fought and won a revolution, a constitution was written, and a new country came into being. Coincidental with the events of the Revolution, English-speaking settlers moved ...

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6: A Revolutionary Marriage Deferred

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pp. 143-179

Pierre Glendinning Jr. is a young patrician and a son of revolutionary heroes who confronts the “ambiguities” and flaws in his father’s rural, illusory and Edenic revolutionary past. Just as Pierre is about to marry the rural nymph Lucy Tartan he discovers an illegitimate half sister, Isabel Banford, in the sewing circle on ...

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7: Chapter Seven The Mystery of Melville’s Darkwoman

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pp. 180-210

Pierre has long been reputed to be a talisman, one that we are warned to approach cautiously, lest we be overcome ourselves by the same ambiguities, metaphysical secrets, and “dark-lanterns” that kill the hero at the end of the novel. Analyses of this novel have in fact been situated within highly metaphysical and psychological ...

Part Three: From “Self ” to “Soul”: W. E. B. Du Bois’s Critical Understanding of the Ideals of Liberal Democracy in the New World

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8: Strange Jeremiah Civil Religion and the Public Intellectual

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pp. 213-224

In the 1940s and 1950s, Walter Lippmann, prominent editor, journalist, and author was given the title “public intellectual.” This name not only reflected his concerns as a writer (several of his best-selling books included A Preface to Morals, Public Opinion, and An Inquiry into the Principles of a Good Society) but also expressed his role in various debates over domestic and foreign policy. Quite ...

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9: Strivings and Original Sin

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pp. 225-242

The concept of “strivings” has a long history in American religious thought. The word was often invoked by descendants of the Second Great Awakening, and the question of striving framed an argument between Samuel Hopkins in particular, one of Edwards’s most famous descendants, and the liberal clergy. Hopkins was one of ...

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10: The Talented Tenth and Colonizing Heroes

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pp. 243-264

In a famous speech delivered before the Cotton States International Exposition in 1895, Booker T. Washington (the Tuskegee genius) effectively nullified the need for public spaces—spaces of contact among and between the races. His metaphor of the hand unified in mutual progress, the races figured as the separate fingers, provides no ...

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11: Du Bois’s Aesthetic of Beauty in the New World

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pp. 265-286

Du Bois recognized the dangers of resignation, cynicism, and resentment among and romanticization of the former slave population. He maintained these dangers could be over- come by retaining the conviction that the descendants of slaves had a “message for the world,” that they were the “salvation of mankind,” ...

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Conclusion The Irony of the American Self

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pp. 287-297

The introduction to this study outlines a history of studies of American culture since the end of World War II and indicates how the notion of an American civil religion emerged within this context. Two seminal studies, R. B. Lewis’s The American Adam and Perry Miller’s Errand Into the Wilderness, appeared in 1955 and 1956, respectively. ...

Notes

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pp. 299-347

Works Cited

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pp. 349-362

Index

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pp. 363-375