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Catholicism and the Shaping of Nineteenth-Century America offers a series of fresh perspectives on one of the most familiar themes – the nation's encounter with Catholicism – in nineteenth-century American history. While religious and immigration historians have construed this history in univocal terms, Jon Gjerde bridges sectarian divides by presenting Protestants and Catholics in conversation with each other. In so doing, Gjerde reveals the ways in which America's encounter with Catholicism was much more than a story about American nativism. Nineteenth-century religious debates raised questions about the fundamental underpinnings of the American state and society: the shape of the antebellum market economy, the transformation of gender roles in the American family, and the place of slavery in an ostensibly democratic polity were only a few of the issues engaged by Protestants and Catholics in a lively and enduring dialectic. While the question of the place of Catholics in America was left unresolved, the very debates surrounding this question generated multiple conceptions of American pluralism and American national identity.Read more
- Offers the first comparative treatment of Protestants and Catholics in the nineteenth century
- Draws upon political, religious and literary sources to describe Protestant and Catholic views on a wide range of issues, including the nineteenth-century relationship between church and state, the economy, the West, slavery and the family
- Explains why religion has constituted and continues to constitute a major dividing line in America
Reviews & endorsements
"Jon Gjerde’s Catholicism and the Shaping of Nineteenth-Century America is a perfectly titled book about how bumptious dialogues among America's variegated Catholics and their frequent, mostly Protestant critics became a major component in creating the modern American nation. The genius of Gjerde’s approach is to set American anti-Catholicism within a far broader context of complex, interweaving dialogues about the kind of society America could and should become, especially in economics, church-state relations, and women's and men's roles, plus the deep arguments about slavery. Few histories have been both so American and so Catholic as is [this book]. [It] is a luminous testament to Jon Gjerde’s achievements as a historian and scholar."
Jon Butler, Yale UniversitySee more reviews
"This book expands our understanding the motives of both Catholics and those Protestants who were hostile to Catholics. It demonstrates that the mid-nineteenth-century quarrel over Catholicism’s place in the constitutional and cultural order of the United States deeply influenced the theory and practice of nationhood well into the twentieth century."
David A. Hollinger, University of California, Berkeley
"A shrewd, thoughtful examination of how religious diversity - notably Catholic immigration to the United States in the nineteenth century - prompted fundamental, often still unresolved questions about the character of religious freedom and American nationalism."
John T. McGreevy, I. A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of History, University of Notre Dame
"… the capstone of the remarkable career of a gifted historian."
Robert Emmett Curran, The Journal of American History
"… a nuanced examination of how Catholic and Protestant leaders’ disagreements over a range of issues shaped antebellum society and how the lack of victory by either side shaped national identity long afterward."
John Dichtl, Indiana Magazine of History
"… a thoughtful reconsideration of the mutually constitutive relationship between Christian and national identities in the antebellum United States."
Elizabeth Fenton, American Catholic Studies
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- Date Published: December 2011
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107010246
- length: 292 pages
- dimensions: 240 x 161 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.54kg
- contains: 7 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
1. Editor's preface S. Deborah Kang
2. Introduction Jon Gjerde
3. The Protestant conundrum Jon Gjerde
The Catholic conundrum Jon Gjerde
4. Conversion and the West Jon Gjerde
5. Schools and the state Jon Gjerde
6. Protestant and Catholic critiques of family and women Jon Gjerde
7. The American economy and social justice Jon Gjerde
8. Epilogue S. Deborah Kang.
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