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___. Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829-1887. Harper Perennial,
2009.
In Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era 1829-1877, historian and professor, Walter McDougall picks up where he left off in his previous book, Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History 1585-1828, and continues throughout the chaotic Spanish-American and Civil War Eras, until the end of the Reconstruction Era. In this second volume in his account of the American story, McDougall continues his argument which paints the United States as “the greatest historical event” in the world. However, this time around, McDougall does so in a more critical manner than he had in his first installment, as he criticized many of the often-hailed events and individuals of in this era, most notably the Reconstruction period. McDougall starts the book off by setting the tone of the United States in the late 1820s and the events that led up to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced Native Americans to move westwards, so white settlers could use the land. McDougall seemed to disapprove of the Jackson Administration, as he felt it created friction between all groups, which would lead to the subsequent Spanish-American and Civil Wars. He also seemed to disapprove of the many compromises, such as the Kansas-Nebraska Act, because they were not solid solutions to any of the problems. McDougall then discusses the Civil War and its following Reconstruction period. Although he did not specifically side with the South, as it relates to the Civil War, his language seems sympathetic to their reasoning from succeeding. As stated in the text, “For decades the South had invoked the Constitution to defend its particular institution, while Free-Soilers invoked the Declaration of Independence condemn the institution of slavery” (McDougall, 2009, 400). He then exclaimed the actions, or lack thereof, of both Presidents James Buchanan, and his lack of action which played a role in the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln and the Reconstruction Period that followed his death. Religion was also discussed, as McDougall examined conquistadors and the religious factors of the events that led to the Spanish-American War. Furthermore, religion, along with the Declaration of Independence, was a factor that was used to defend the condemnation of slavery. However, in the case of Abraham Lincoln, McDougall argued that Lincoln’s actions were not the result of his religious beliefs.
Moore, Joseph S. Founding Sins: How a Group of Antislavery Radicals Fought to Put Christ
into the Constitution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
In Founding Sins: How a Group of Antislavery Radicals Fought to Put Christ into the Constitution, historian, Joseph S. Moore discusses the forgotten Scott-Irish Presbyterians, called the Covenanters, who challenged early American political and religious practices. In the text, Moore presents a different approach to the founding of America, as he argues that America was not founded as a Christian nation, because the Constitution permitted slavery but excluded God. Also, Moore discusses how the Covenanters fell from power in Scotland and moved to America with hopes of creating a Christian nation. Upon arrival, they tried to convert many of the nonbelievers; however, the group was despised by many of the Founding Fathers, including Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. This caused their efforts for God to be placed in the Constitution to fail. In the text, Moore also discussed how the Covenanters were the first group of abolitionists. Also, he briefly discussed their attempt to create a Constitution that clearly prohibited slavery. As a result, they summed the Civil War up to be a result of America’s sin of slavery. However, even after the end of the Civil War, the Covenanters continued to fight for the institution of Christ into the Constitution. They were able to present their case in front of several governmental officials, including President Abraham Lincoln. As a final point, these books relate to the theme “Religion’s effect on early American politics,” because the Covenanters laid down the framework for the later Christian conservatives.
Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-
Century New England. New York: Harper & Row Publishers; Revised & enlarged edition, 1966.
In Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New England, historian, and author Edmund S. Morgan examine and analyzes the Puritan lifestyle by exploring their relationships with each other. According to the text, the Puritans saw the family as the highest social institution as the foundation of the church and government. Furthermore, Morgan discusses how the Puritans fled England and migrated to the Americas to escape religious persecution and to establish a holy kingdom that will be governed by God’s law. Furthermore, this book discusses the desire of the Puritans to be active in society. Morgan also incorporates photos and excerpts from original Puritan documents to back up the information on the Puritan social life. This book relates to the theme “Religion’s impact on the early American politics because the political aspects of the Puritan lifestyle are examined and discussed.
Noll, Mark. The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. The University of North Carolina Press,
2015.
In The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, historian and author, Mark A. Noll, uses historical statements from several individuals from different walks of life, such as Blacks and whites, Northerners and Southerners, and Catholics and Protestants, to examine how the Civil War changed the way that the Bible was interpreted. Before the start of the Civil War, the Bible was usually used to determine what was moral and what was not. Noll makes this statement in the text, as it reads, “In American society, there was no recognized authority greater than the individual interpretation of scripture to deploy for the purpose of understanding the scripture” (Noll, 2016, 29). However, the Bible accepted slavery, which was the cause of the debate.
Northerners felt that the institutions of slavery displayed in the Bible sanctioned the institution of slavery in the South and that the institution of slavery violated the spirit of the Bible. However, the South used those institutions shown in the Bible as justification. Still, officials and pastors alike had no answer for whether or not slavery was moral or not. Furthermore, both the North and the South felt that God was on their side, yet, when they would lose battles, something was wrong. However, even after the ending of the Civil War, the use of the Bible in the basic policies was still there, it lessened. As a final point, the Noll argues that the disagreements did not cease with the ending of the Civil War, such as racism and the effects of slavery, still lives on.