Cover image for Revolutionary Anglicanism : the colonial Church of England clergy during the American Revolution
Revolutionary Anglicanism : the colonial Church of England clergy during the American Revolution
Rhoden, Nancy L. (Nancy Lee), 1965-
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xii, 205 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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BX5881 .R48 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Decisions of loyalism or patriotism were rarely easy during the American Revolution. The colonial Anglican clergy, all of whom had taken oaths to the King and his church, faced a particularly difficult dilemma. Revolutionary governments demanded that they repudiate their oaths, end prayers for the King, and alter the liturgy.

Revolutionary Anglicanism examines the plight of these colonial clergymen, tracking down every one of the over 300 Anglican ministers in the thirteen colonies to assess their diverse political opinions and collective strategies for personal and institutional survival.

While the Revolution transformed and politicized the civilian population, Rhoden finds that most Anglican clergy experienced a process of depoliticization as they attempted to negotiate a volatile political climate in which they were viewed with grave suspicion by their revolutionary neighbors. This non-political foundation facilitated the creation of the American Episcopal Church, which began to embrace the new religious paradigms of the American republic.

By emphasizing the Revolution as a rejection not only of the English monarch but of his church, Revolutionary Anglicanism implicitly challenges the longstanding tradition which has placed Puritanism or evangelical religion at the center of the early American religious experience.

Author Notes

Nancy L. Rhoden is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Southern Indiana

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Rhoden has provided a succinct and compelling account of the Anglican clergy during the Revolutionary War. Contrary to the impression of most American historians, i.e., that Anglicans were usually political conservatives who tended to loyalism, Rhoden finds considerable diversity. The division was roughly into thirds--a little more than a third were loyalists, a little under a third were patriots, and about a third were neutral. The most notable divisions were regional: most Southern Anglican priests favored independence or were at least neutral, while those north of Maryland were overwhelmingly opposed to it. The motivations that Rhoden attributes to those supporting or resisting the Revolution will, however, be familiar to historians of the Revolutionary period. Loyalists emphasized the necessity of obedience to lawful authority and the advantages of continued ties with Britain. Patriot clergy saw America as particularly favored by God and amply justified in resisting British tyranny. Rhoden concludes that both schools of thought had roots in the Anglican settlement that emerged from the Glorious Revolution. Amply and exhaustively researched and carefully argued, Rhoden's work illuminates both the history of the Episcopal Church and the religious aspects of the American Revolution. All levels. T. D. Hamm; Earlham College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
List of Abbreviationsp. xi
1 Introductionp. 1
2 The Pre-Revolutionary Colonial Church of Englandp. 10
3 The Bishop Controversyp. 37
4 The Political Philosophies of the Two Extremesp. 64
5 The Depoliticization of the Colonial Anglican Clergyp. 88
6 Divided Allegiances and Disestablishmentp. 116
Epiloguep. 144
Appendix Colonial Church of England Ministers, 1775-83p. 148
Notesp. 153
Indexp. 198