Historians have debated whether religion united or divided the eighteenth-century British Empire. “Connecting Protestants” reassesses those debates by tracing who nurtured ties among Protestants across the empire's long distances, diverse establishments, and varied traditions. Recognizing the mechanisms, personal and institutional, through which religious leaders communicated and collaborated reveals a symbiotic relationship between the empire's religion and its political structures. Religious leaders from the empire's dominant denominations sustained an extended system that united in a common cause Protestants who disagreed profoundly on matters of theology and ecclesiology. These leaders worked together—in extended networks, denominational organizations, and voluntary societies—principally because they believed the promotion of Christendom required strong Christian institutions. Yet the shape of their collaboration was determined by Britain's religious politics. The extended system supported by these efforts included all of the empire's dominant religious institutions, and it provided the pathway through which Protestants engaged the empire's distant realms in religious terms. It also contained intra-Protestant disputes so they did not disrupt political order, explaining why transatlantic and interregional religious institutions did not become a major site of organization during the imperial conflict of the 1760s and 1770s.
A leading journal in early American history and culture, the William and Mary Quarterly publishes refereed scholarship in history and related disciplines from initial Old World–New World contacts to the early nineteenth century. Its articles, sources and interpretations, and reviews of books range from British North America and the United States to Europe, West Africa, the Caribbean, and the Spanish American borderlands. Forums and special issues address topics of active interest in the field.