Religion In Antebellum Kentucky

Religion In Antebellum Kentucky

Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Religion In Antebellum Kentucky
    Book Description:

    Religion permeated the day-to-day life of antebellum Kentucky. This engaging account of Kentucky's various Christian denominations, first published as part of the Kentucky Bicentennial Bookshelf, traces the history of the Great Revival of 1800--1805, the subsequent schism in Protestant ranks, the rise of Catholicism, the development of a distinctive black Christianity, and the growth of a Christian antislavery tradition.

    Paying special attention to the role of religion in the everyday life of early Kentuckians and their heritage, John B. Boles provides a concise yet enlightening introduction to the faith and the people of the Bluegrass State.Religion In Antebellum Kentuckyis an excellent survey of religion and its significance in the first eighty-five years of Kentucky's history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5837-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface to Paperback Edition
    (pp. xi-xii)
    John B. Boles
    (pp. 1-15)

    The “dark and bloody ground” was the Indian name for that beautiful territory which began in mountains on the western edge of Virginia, gently sloped west, and declined to the Mississippi River. For countless moons Cherokees and Iroquois battled incessantly for the land, giving the region its martial name. The same qualities of fertility and abundant game that attracted the Indians also caught the attention of the competing French and English, and for almost a century after LaSalle discovered the falls near present-day Louisville in 1669, the two European rivals cast longing eyes at Kentucky. Two years later a party...

    (pp. 16-30)

    By the mid-1780S the denominations that were destined to play the dominant role in Kentucky’s religious life were established in the territory. None could foresee the future course of history, yet many must have confidently accepted John Filson’s remark of 1784 as predictive: “From these early movements it is hoped that Kentucky will eminently shine in learning and piety, which will fulfill the wish of every virtuous citizen.” History, however, has an uncanny way of escaping the snares of those who try to confine it to the expected. And though Kentucky’s population and commerce boomed in the fifteen years before...

    (pp. 31-51)

    The Great Revival at the beginning of the nineteenth century had repercussions that affected many aspects of Kentucky culture. Evangelical religion emerged from the revival maelstrom so invigorated that from that time on it characterized Kentucky Protestantism. It was an individualistic and otherworldly faith that ministered to the expectations and frustrations of the average people. Despite the prevailing myth of easy social mobility, thousands lived only slightly above the subsistence level. These were not the wealthy nabobs of plantation legend, but rather the majority who filled the church pews, worked their few acres, and lived and died in obscurity. A...

    (pp. 52-79)

    Of all the stories of the religious groups that helped tame frontier Kentucky, that of the Catholic settlers and priests is perhaps the most unexpected and certainly the most remarkable. As Baltimore was the mother of the Catholic church in America, so was Bardstown, Kentucky, the mother of the Catholic church west of the Appalachians. But in ways no one could have foreseen, events transpiring thousands of miles away in France had an immeasurable impact on the future of Kentucky Catholicism. The anticlerical furor of the French Revolution all but destroyed the Catholic establishment in France; as a result, dozens...

    (pp. 80-100)

    Historians are now beginning to understand the inner life of the slaves, the black community. Slaves clearly were not completely dehumanized by the brutalities of their existence. With a marvelous human resiliency they adapted to American realities, perhaps maintaining and adjusting some part of their African heritage, but primarily accommodating to the emergent white folk culture. The technical term for this complicated process of cultural accommodation is acculturation. In the total matrix of white-black relations in the antebellum South, no institution played a more significant role in acculturizing Africans to America than did the church.

    Even in the earliest years...

    (pp. 101-122)

    In the years before the Civil War cut through the nation like an avenging sword and excised the cancerous evil of slavery, Kentuckians prided themselves on the mild features of bondage in their state. There were comparatively fewer slaves in Kentucky than in most other southern states, and there were fewer absentee owners. With the Ohio River as a border offering freedom across her banks, the real possibility of escape via the underground railroad forced many Kentucky slaveowners to ameliorate the kind of abuses that existed in the Deep South. The mountainous terrain in the east, the river cities like...

    (pp. 123-145)

    It is admittedly very difficult to gauge the pervasiveness or intensity of religious beliefs in any society, particularly one in the past. On the merely descriptive level, Kentucky impressed many contemporary observers as a religious area. In what purported to be a fair-minded traveler’s guide to a number of midwestern states and territories, Samuel R. Brown wrote, “It is a solemn truth, that religion is no where more respected, than in Kentucky.” A more critical observer, speaking of Lexington in particular, told his readers that “if the people have any striking defect, it consists in the fact that they are subject...

  12. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 146-150)