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“All Our Children May be Taught of God”: Sunday Schools and the Roles of Childhood and Youth in Creating Evangelical Benevolence

  • K. Elise Leal
Abstract

Merging religious history with childhood studies, this article analyzes the rise of the Sunday school movement to show how concepts of childhood, and young people themselves, helped shape early American religious culture. Religious disestablishment, republican concerns about virtue, and romanticized reconstructions of childhood led to a heightened focus on young people within late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Protestant reform movements. The resulting dissemination of Sunday schools across the country established physical and imagined communities of faith dedicated exclusively to young people. They also fostered unprecedented levels of youth religious leadership by allowing adolescents to serve as teachers, challenging inherited patterns of social and cultural authority. Sunday schools thereby became transformative and transactional spaces where young people could both shape and be shaped by the growing Protestant community. This article describes this synergistic relationship between childhood, youth, and Protestant benevolence by examining the two related educational models that emerged within the Sunday school movement in the early national period. The first, exemplified by republican-humanitarian Sunday schools founded in the late eighteenth century, emphasized literacy instruction for the purpose of creating a virtuous citizenry. The second model also aspired to create virtuous citizens, but it envisioned using Sunday schools primarily to evangelize and sanctify the nation. The increasing emphasis on evangelism produced an even more significant structural shift: the transformation of Sunday schools into child-centric institutions that facilitated youth religious leadership. This in turn helped inaugurate a period within American Christianity when institutions and ministries were designed specifically for children on mass scale, permanently altering the religious landscape and redistributing spiritual authority to more marginalized groups, including young people themselves. By revealing how age became an increasingly crucial factor in determining the shape and substance of religious experiences, this article demonstrates that ideals and anxieties about childhood helped create volunteerism, which in turn reshaped the structure of American Protestantism while simultaneously contributing to the formation of a broader child-centric culture that persists in the modern day.

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Research support for this article was provided by the Congregational Library and Archives, the Boston Athenaeum, and the Baylor University Graduate School. Versions of this article were presented at the American Historical Association, the American Society of Church History, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Boston College Biennial Conference on the History of Religion. I received helpful comments from each of these audiences. I would also like to thank Thomas S. Kidd, Timothy Grundmeier, and Paul Gutacker for the incisive feedback they provided on multiple drafts of this project, along with their unflagging support and encouragement.

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1 Robert May, “First Sabbath Meeting, October 20, 1811,” in Robert May Minutes and Register, 1811–1812, Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia. Presbyterian Historical Society hereafter referred to as PHS.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 For more, see Greven, Philip J., The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing, Religious Experience, and the Self in Early America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988); and Kidd, Thomas S., The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelicalism in Colonial America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).

5 Cole, Charles C., The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1820–1860 (New York: Octagon Books, 1954); Griffin, Clifford S., Their Brothers' Keepers: Moral Stewardship in the United States, 1800–1865 (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1960); Foster, Charles, An Errand of Mercy: The Evangelical United Front, 1790–1837 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960); Johnson, Paul E., A Shopkeeper's Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815–1837 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978); Ryan, Mary P., Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida Country, New York, 1790–1865. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981); and Stansell, Christine, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789–1860 (New York: Knopf, 1986).

6 Smith, Timothy L., Revivalism and Social Reform: American Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1957); Banner, Lois, “Religious Benevolence as Social Control: A Critique of an Interpretation.Journal of American History 60, no. 1 (June 1973): 2324; Handy, Robert T., A Christian America: Protestant Hopes and Historical Realities (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984); Ginzberg, Lori, Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-Century United States (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990); Abzug, Robert H., Crumbling Cosmos: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); and Boylan, Anne M., The Origins of Women's Activism: New York and Boston, 1797–1840 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002).

7 Mintz, Steven, Moralists and Moralizers: America's Pre-Civil War Reformers (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), xvii–xviii. Similar scholarship includes Dorsey, Bruce, Reforming Men and Women: Gender in the Antebellum City (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002); McCarthy, Kathleen D., American Creed: Philanthropy and the Rise of Civil Society, 1700–1865 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003); Noll, Mark, America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Wilentz, Sean, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005); and Howe, David Walker, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

8 Porterfield, Amanda, Conceived in Doubt: Religion and Politics in the New American Nation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012); and Haselby, Sam, The Origins of American Religious Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 23, 24. For another example, see Hartog, Jonathan Den, Patriotism and Piety: Federalist Politics and Religious Struggle in the New American Nation (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015). Den Hartog emphasizes the role of political partisanship, especially Federalism, in creating reform movements.

9 Boylan, Anne M., Sunday School: The Formation of an American Institution, 1790–1880 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988). See also Rice, Edwin Wilbur, The Sunday-School Movement, 1780–1917, and the American Sunday-School Union, 1817–1917 (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1917); and Lynn, Robert W. and Wright, Elliott, The Big Little School: Sunday Child of American Protestantism (New York: Harper and Row, 1971).

10 Hawes, Joseph M. and Hiner, N. Ray, eds., American Childhood: A Research Guide and Historical Handbook (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985); Cunningham, Hugh, Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500 (London: Longham, 1999); Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin, “Introduction: Voice, Agency, and the Child,” in Children in Culture, Revisited: Further Approaches to Childhood, ed. Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 24; and Duane, Anna Mae, The Children's Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2013), 115.

11 Leow, Rachel, “Age as a Category of Gendered Analysis: Servant Girls, Modern Girls, and Gender in Southeast Asia,” The Journal of Asian Studies 71, no. 4 (2012): 976; Mintz, Steven, “Reflection on Age as a Category of Historical Analysis,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 1, no. 1 (2008): 9194; and Maynes, Mary Jo, “Age as a Category of Historical Analysis: History, Agency, and Narratives of Childhood,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 1, no. 1 (2008): 114124.

12 The concept of childhood agency, particularly its utility as a scholarly interpretive framework, has received increasing critique in recent years. For a sample of this critique, see the special issue of Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, and Cultures 8, no. 1 (2016), especially the articles by Richard Flynn, “Introduction: Disputing the Role of Agency in Children's Literature and Culture,” 248–253, and Sara L. Schwebel, “The Limits of Agency for Children's Literature Scholars,” 278–290. For a discussion of using relational-based frameworks as an alternate interpretive approach, see Gubar, Marah, “The Hermeneutics of Recuperation: What a Kinship-Model Approach to Children's Agency Could Do for Children's Literature and Childhood Studies,” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, and Cultures 8, no. 1 (2016): 291310.

13 Exceptions include Banner, Lois, “Religion and Reform in the Early Republic: The Role of Youth,” American Quarterly 23, no. 5 (1971): 677695; Greven, The Protestant Temperament; and Hessinger, Rodney, Seduced, Abandoned, and Reborn: Visions of Youth in Middle-Class America, 1780–1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).

14 Hawes and Hiner, American Childhood; Reinier, Jacqueline S., From Virtue to Character: American Childhood, 1775–1850 (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1996); Appleby, Joyce, Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000); Illick, Joseph E., American Childhoods (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002); Levander, Caroline F. and Singley, Carol J., eds., The American Child: A Cultural Studies Reader (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003); Mintz, Steven, Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004); Sanchez-Eppler, Karen, Dependent States: The Child's Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005); Brewer, Holly, By Birth or Consent: Children, Law, and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007); Marten, James, ed., Children and Youth in a New Nation (New York: New York University Press, 2009); Bernstein, Robin, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (New York: New York University Press, 2011); Field, Corinne T., The Struggle for Equal Adulthood: Gender, Race, Age, and the Fight for Citizenship in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); Field, Corinne T. and Syrett, Nicholas L., Age in America: The Colonial Era to the Present (New York: New York University Press, 2015); and Weikle-Mills, Courtney, Imaginary Citizens: Child Readers and the Limits of American Independence, 1640–1868 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).

15 Readers will note that while this article is a history of American religion and childhood, children's voices are largely absent from the narrative. This is a common and frustrating problem that is endemic to all histories of childhood. Frequently illiterate and usually excluded from formal positions of power, children usually leave behind few primary sources. As a result, the founding scholars of the field of childhood studies often separated the history of children, which emphasizes lived experiences, from histories of childhood, which analyzes cultural constructions formulated within constantly shifting dialogical frameworks of meaning. Joseph Hawes and N. Ray Hiner, leading historians of childhood in the United States, gestured toward this divide in their entry on the “History of Childhood” within Paula S. Fass's Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood: In History and Society: “When historians declare that children in the past were miniature adults or that childhood did not exist in a certain period, what do they mean? Are they referring to what adults thought childhood ought to be, what children actually experienced, or what children actually did?” See Hawes, Joseph and Hiner, N. Ray, “History of Childhood,” in Fass, Paula S., Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood: In History and Society (New York: MacMillan, 2003), 427. In general, historians now assert that the line between lived and constructed childhood is fluid, defying rigid categorization. While a distinction between histories of children and histories of childhood still exists, most works attempt to integrate the two approaches. This is partly an issue of practicality. Primary sources from children are often in short supply, meaning that historians must usually combine their attempts to reconstruct children's lived experiences with assessments of adult constructions and perceptions in order to achieve a fuller picture of childhood in any particular era. This article is rooted in this methodological approach. Fortunately, multiple primary sources from adolescent Sunday school teachers exist, facilitating my ability to assess the impact of youth leadership on nineteenth-century reforms and reconstruct their lived experiences to a point. Moreover, records left by the Sunday school movement present a variety of opportunities to piece together glimpses of childhood in the early national period. These and related sources comprise the majority of the material used for this article. Collectively, this material provides valuable insight into the ways Protestant reformers attempted to construct and standardize ideal Christian childhoods, while also providing snapshots into young peoples’ lived religious experiences. For more on how historians of childhood deal with the paucity of sources left by children and youth, see Grant, Julia, “Review: Children versus Childhood: Writing Children into the Historical Record, or Reflections on Paula Fass's ‘Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society,’History of Education Quarterly 45, no. 3 (2005): 468490; and Schwebel, Sara L., “The Limits of Agency for Children's Literature Scholars,” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, and Cultures 8, no. 1 (2016): 278290.

16 Marten, Children and Youth in a New Nation, 5.

17 Marten, Children and Youth in a New Nation, 5. See also MacLeod, Anne Scott, American Childhood: Essays on Children's Literature of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994); Hawes and Hiner, American Childhood; Reinier, From Virtue to Character; Appleby, Inheriting the Revolution; Illick, American Childhoods; Hessinger, Seduced, Abandoned, and Reborn; and Mintz, Huck's Raft.

18 Webster, Noah, “On the Education of Youth in America,” in Rudolph, Frederick, ed., Essays on Education in the Early Republic (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965), 77.

19 Appleby, Inheriting the Revolution, 240.

20 Fears about children represented just one of many anxieties that shaped the new nation. Porterfield highlights the role of anxiety and doubt in shaping religion in the early republic, arguing that “religious institutions grew as much to manage mistrustful doubt as to relieve it.” Porterfield, Conceived in Doubt, 2.

21 Wood, Gordon, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 78; Bailyn, Bernard, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967), 344345; Noll, America's God, 57, 90; and Kidd, Thomas S., God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (New York: Basic Books, 2010), 99101.

22 Appleby, Inheriting the Revolution, 75.

23 Appleby, Inheriting the Revolution, 56–89, 253–255. See also Reinier, From Virtue to Character, 103, 114. For the breakdown of the apprenticeship system, see Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class; and Johnson, A Shopkeeper's Millennium. For more on how urbanization and industrialization helped create nineteenth-century nuclear family structures, see Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class; Illick, American Childhoods, 55–100; William G. McGloughlin, “Evangelical Childrearing in the Age of Jackson: Francis Wayland's Views on How and When to Subdue the Willfulness of Children,” in Hawes and Hiner, American Childhood, 87–107; Daniel T. Rogers, “Socializing Middle-Class Children: Institutions, Fables, and Work Values in Nineteenth-Century America,” in Hawes and Hiner, American Childhood, 119–132.

24 Appleby, Inheriting the Revolution, 174; Noll, America's God, 57; and Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, 345–347. Vice was used as a foil to virtue, generally encompassing negative character qualities like greed, self-seeking, and idleness.

25 For more on British Sunday schools and Robert Raikes, see Harris, Henry J. and Harris, Josiah, Robert Raikes: The Man and His Work (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1899); Rice, The Sunday-School Movement; and Laqueur, Thomas Walter, Religion and Respectability: Sunday Schools and Working Class Culture, 1780–1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), 21, 2325.

26 Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 45; and Fergusson, Edmund Morris, Historic Chapters in Christian Education: A Brief History of the American Sunday School Movement, and the Rise of the Modern Church School (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1935), 14.

27 The main source for White's views on Sunday schools is A Sermon on the Festival of the Holy Innocents. With Reference to an Assembling of the Sunday Schools of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the City and Liberties of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: William Fry, 1818), University of Texas Collections Deposit Library. White preached this sermon in 1817 at St. James’ Church in Philadelphia for a gathering of Episcopalian Sunday schools.

28 White, Sermon, 11–13.

29 Ibid., 11.

30 Ibid., 11–13.

31 Ibid., 11, 16

32 Nash, Gary, First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of Historical Memory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 108; Weigley, Russell F., ed., Philadelphia: A 300-Year History (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982), 122, 172; and Kidd, God of Liberty, 110–111.

33 May, Henry F., The Enlightenment in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 197198; Nash, First City, 176; and Alexander, John K., Render Them Submissive: Responses to Poverty in Philadelphia, 1760–1800 (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1980), 49.

34 For growth of post-revolutionary educational institutions, see Tyack, David B. and Hansot, Elizabeth, Managers of Virtue: Public School Leadership in America, 1820–1980 (New York: Basic Books, 1982); Kaestle, Carl, Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780–1860 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983); Urban, Wayne and Wagoner, Jennings Jr., American Education: A History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996); Mintz, Huck's Raft, 71–72; Nash, Margaret A., Women's Education in the United States, 1780–1840 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005); Kelley, Mary, Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America's Republic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); and Beadie, Nancy, Education and the Creation of the Capital in the Early American Republic (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

35 Rush, Benjamin, “The Bible as a School Book. Addressed to the Rev. Jeremy Belknap, of Boston,” in Runes, Dagobert D., ed., The Selected Writings of Benjamin Rush (New York: Philosophical Library, 1947), 126127. According to Hutcheson, all of humanity possessed an innate, God-given moral intelligence that allowed them to distinguish between right and wrong. See Noll, America's God, 93–94; and Reinier, Jaqueline, “Rearing the Republican Child: Attitudes and Practices in Post-Revolutionary Philadelphia,” William and Mary Quarterly 39, no. 1 (1982): 156.

36 Cremin, Lawrence A., American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607–1783 (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), 359414; and Allen, Ann Taylor, The Transatlantic Kindergarten: Education and Women's Movements in Germany and the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 12.

37 Benjamin Rush, “On the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic,” in Runes, Selected Writings of Benjamin Rush, 96. For the general view, see Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic, 6–7; Urban and Wagoner, American Education 87; and Tyack, “Forming the National Character”, 29–33.

38 Nash, First City, 146–147.

39 “To the Citizens of Philadelphia, and of the Districts of Southwark and the Northern Liberties. The Address of the Society for Establishing Sunday Schools,” Dunlap's American Daily Advertiser, March 25, 1791; Boylan, Sunday School, 7; and Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 45.

40 Boylan, Sunday School, 7.

41 Society, First Day, Constitution of the Society for the Institution and Support of First-day or Sunday Schools, in the City of Philadelphia, and the Districts of Southwark and the Northern Liberties: A List of the Names of the Present Annual Contributors and Members for Life. With an Account of the Present State of the Funds (Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1810), iii, University of Texas Collections Deposit Library.

42 First Day Society, Constitution and 1810 Summary, iii, 20; “To the Citizens of Philadelphia,” Dunlap's American Daily Advertiser. This belief was common among eighteenth-century reformers, see Tyack, “Forming the National Character,” 35.

43 First Day Society, Constitution and 1810 Summary, iii; and Reinier, From Virtue to Character, 79–80.

44 First Day Society, Constitution and 1810 Summary, iv, 16; and Handy, A Christian America, 34.

45 Ibid., 16.

46 Ibid., 21.

47 Ibid., iv.

48 Rush, “The Bible as a School Book,” 125.

49 These sessions were held from approximately seven to nine in the morning and one to three in the afternoon, see First Day Society, Constitution and 1810 Summary, 16.

50 First Day Society, Constitution and 1810 Summary, iii; Boylan, Sunday School, 7–9; and Fergusson, Historic Chapters in Christian Education, 14.

51 Noll, America's God, 54.

52 White, George Savage, Memoir of Samuel Slater, The Father of American Manufactures (Philadelphia, no publisher information, 1836), 107.

53 Tucker, Barbara, Samuel Slater and the Origins of the American Textile Industry (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984), 168.

54 White, Memoir of Samuel Slater, 117.

55 “To the Citizens of Philadelphia,” Dunlap's American Daily Advertiser, March 25, 1791.

56 First Day Society, Constitution and 1810 Summary, 18.

57 Society, First Day, Constitution of the Society for the Institution and Support of First-Day or Sunday Schools in the City of Philadelphia, and the Districts of Southwark and the Northern Liberties, with A List of the Names of the Present Annual Contributors and the Members for Life. Rules for the Government of Said Schools, and a Summary of the Proceedings of the Society from Its Commencement to Sixth Month, June, 1813. With an Account of the Present State of the Funds (Philadelphia, 1813), 2425, University of Texas Collections Deposit Library.

58 Weigley, Philadelphia, 256. Historian William Jeynes notes that the entire charity school movement faced similar monetary woes during this period. Jeynes, American Educational History, 49.

59 Nash, First City, 180; Weigley, Philadelphia, 226; and Reinier, From Virtue to Character, 117.

60 Boylan, Sunday School, 9.

61 Tucker, Samuel Slater and the Origins of the American Textile Industry, 168.

62 Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith, 268–274; and Lambert, Frank, The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).

63 Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 186–188; and Walters, American Reformers, 21–22. See also Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll, Religion and the Rise of the American City: The New York City Mission Movement, 1812–1870 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971).

64 Haselby, The Origins of American Religious Nationalism, 2–3, 24. Major works on the Second Great Awakening include Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, 50–55, 58; Boles, John, The Great Revival: Beginnings of the Bible Belt (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1996); Schmidt, Leigh Eric, Holy Fairs: Scotland and the Making of American Revivalism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001); Hempton, David, Methodism: Empire of the Spirit (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005); Wigger, John, American Saint: Francis Asbury & the Methodists (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); Kidd, Thomas S. and Hankins, Barry. Baptists in America: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015); and Haselby, The Origins of American Religious Nationalism.

65 Banner argues that “youth” were the majority of converts during revivals, see “Religion and Reform in the Early Republic,” 678–679. Joseph Kett and Mary P. Ryan also highlight the high involvement of and special attention given to young people throughout the Second Great Awakening. See Kett, Joseph, Rites of Passage: Adolescence in America 1790 to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1977), 64; and Ryan, Mary P., “A Woman's Awakening: Evangelical Religion and the Families of Utica, New York, 1800–1840,” in History of Women in the United States, Cott, Nancy, ed. (New York: K. G. Saur, 1993), 5758. This pattern of youth involvement in revivals was not new, as young people also featured prominently in revivals during the First Great Awakening. See Kidd, The Great Awakening.

66 The modern concept of “adolescence” was still developing in this period, leading to greater flexibility in the ages that could be considered “youth.” See Kett, Joseph, “Adolescence and Youth in Nineteenth-Century America,” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2, no. 2 (1971): 283–298; and Banner, “Religion and Reform in the Early Republic,” 678.

67 Porter, Ebenezer, Letters on Religious Revivals, Which Prevailed About the Beginning of the Present Century (Boston: Congregational Board of Publication, 1858), 10. For additional examples, see pages 10–11, 32–33, 93–94.

68 Rayner, Menzies, A Dissertation Upon Extraordinary Awakenings, or, Religious Stirs: Conversion, Regeneration, Renovation, and a Change of Heart: Conference Meetings: Extraordinary Gifts in Extempore Prayer: Evangelical Preaching, &c., &c. (Hudson: William E. Norman, 1816), 1112. For examples of young people “exhorting” in revival meetings, see pages 46–47.

69 Baldwin, , A Brief Sketch of the Revival of Religion in Boston, in 1803–5 (Boston: Lincoln & Edmands, extracted from Massachusetts Baptist Magazine, 1826), Boston Athenaeum.

70 Bradley, Joshua, Accounts of Religious Revivals in Many Parts of the United States from 1815 to 1818: Collected from Numerous Publications and Letters from Persons of Piety and Correct Information (Albany: G. J. Loomis & Co., 1819), 4142.

71 Bradley, Accounts of Religious Revivals, 173.

72 Tyler, Bennet, New England Revivals: As They Existed at the Close of the Eighteenth and the Beginning of the Nineteenth Centuries: Compiled Principally from Narratives First Published in the Conn. Evangelical Magazine (Boston: Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, 1846), 25.

73 Bonomi, Patricia, Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 115118; and Reiner, From Virtue to Character, 78–79.

74 Tyler, New England Revivals, 311.

75 Porter, Letters on Religious Revivals, 93.

76 Bradley, Accounts of Religious Revivals, 150.

77 Anne Boylan, “Growing up Female in Young America, 1800–1860,” in Hawes and Hiner, American Childhood, 134.

78 Boylan, Anne M., “The Role of Conversion in Nineteenth-Century Sunday Schools,” American Studies 20, no. 1 (1979): 39.

79 For eighteenth century attitudes toward children, see Brekus, Catherine, Sarah Osborne's World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 3358; and Greven, The Protestant Temperament. For more on early nineteenth-century reconstructions of childhood, see Boylan, Sunday School, 133–165; Kett, “Adolescence and Youth in Nineteenth-Century America,” 283–298; Reiner, From Virtue to Character; Ryan, “A Woman's Awakening,” 63–65; Barbara Finkelstein, “Casting Networks of Good Influence: The Reconstruction of Childhood in the United States, 1790–1870,” in Hawes and Hiner, American Childhood, 111–135; and Mintz, Huck's Raft.

80 Finkelstein, “Casting Networks of Good Influence,” 118.

81 Dana, James, Sermons to Young People, Preached A.D. 1803, 1804. (New-Haven: Sidney's Press, 1806), 432.

82 Smith, Isaac, Religion Recommended to Children and Youth, in a Discourse, Written Chiefly for Their Use (Boston: J. Belcher, 1814), 18.

83 Hessinger, Seduced, Abandoned, and Reborn, 2–4.

84 For more on the development of youth-oriented evangelical print culture, see MacLeod, Anne, A Moral Tale: Children's Fiction and American Culture, 1820–1860 (Hamden: Archon Books, The Shoestring Press, 1975); Avery, Gillian, Behold the Child: American Children and Their Books, 1621–1922 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994); Hessinger, Seduced, Abandoned, and Reborn; and Ringel, Paul B., Commercializing Childhood: Children's Magazines, Urban Gentility, and the Ideal of the Child Consumer in the United States, 1823–1918 (Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015). For general discussions of nineteenth-century evangelical print culture, see Brown, Candy Gunther, The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1798–1880 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); and Nord, David Paul, Faith in Reading: Religious Publishing and the Birth of Mass Media in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

85 Barbara Welter coined the term “cult of domesticity” in The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820–1860,” American Quarterly 18 (1966): 151174. Although this term is still used, most scholars now acknowledge that evangelical constructions of womanhood encompassed more than an idealization of domesticity. They also contend that “cult of domesticity” implies a stricter division between the public and private spheres than actually existed in reality. Thus, current scholarship often employs the broader term “true evangelical womanhood,” beginning with Nash, Margaret A., “Rethinking Republican Motherhood: Benjamin Rush and the Young Ladies' Academy of Philadelphia,” Journal of the Early Republic 17, no. 2 (1997): 171191; and Boylan, The Origins of Women's Activism. For more on women's roles in child-centric reforms and the emergence of true evangelical womanhood, see Cott, Nancy F., The Bonds of Womanhood: “Women's Sphere” in New England, 1780–1835 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 129159; Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class; Hardesty, Nancy A., Women Called to Witness: Evangelical Feminism in the 19th Century (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1984); Stansell, City of Women; Ginzberg, Women and the Work of Benevolence; Lawes, Carolyn J., Women and Reform in a New England Community, 1815–1860 (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1999); Westerkamp, Women in Early American Religion; and Boylan, The Origins of Women's Activism.

86 Finkelstein, “Casting Networks of Good Influence;” Reiner, From Virtue to Character; Mintz, Huck's Raft, 75–93; and Hessinger, Seduced, Abandoned, and Reborn.

87 Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 52.

88 For more information, see Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 444–445; and Boylan, “Presbyterians and Sunday Schools in Philadelphia,” 303.

89 Robert May, introductory note to minutes, 1, in Robert May Minutes and Register, 1811–1812, PHS.

90 Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 51.

91 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Report of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor. Presented at Their Annual Meeting, October 8, 1817 (Boston, 1817), 3, Boston Athenaeum.

92 Bethune, George, Memoirs of Mrs. Joanna Bethune (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1863), 90; and New York Female Union Society for the Promotion of Sabbath Schools, The First Report of the New-York Female Union Society for the Promotion of Sabbath Schools, Read at their Annual Meeting, April 9, 1817 (New York: J. Seymour, 1817), 5, Boston Athenaeum.

93 “A Brief Account of the Origin, Progress and Improvement of the Sunday School System of Education,” Christian Messenger, October 1, 1817.

94 For more on the New York Female Union's administrative structure, see “Constitution and Rules,” in New York Female Union, Second Report.

95 “A Brief Account. . .of the Sunday School System of Education,” Christian Messenger.

96 Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic, 57–60; Boylan, Sunday School, 19; and Tyack and Hansot, Managers of Virtue, 29. Boylan notes that the decision to retain literacy training in early evangelical Sunday schools “was made in conjunction with, not in place of, other free schooling opportunities.” See Boylan, Sunday Schools, 29.

97 Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 60–63; and Foster, An Errand of Mercy, 159–160. For communication between the SASU and Divie Bethune during the organization's founding period, see “Sunday and Adult School Union to Divie Bethune, July 18, 1817,” in Philadelphia Sunday and Adult School Association Letter Book, 1817–1824, PHS.

98 Sunday and Adult School Union, Constitution, in First Report, (Philadelphia, 1818), 2728, in American Sunday School Union, Papers, 1817–1915, PHS. Hereafter referred to as ASSU Papers. See also “A System for the Internal Regulation of Sunday Schools,” in First Report, 29–31.

99 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 3.

100 Boylan, “Presbyterians and Sunday Schools in Philadelphia,” 305–306.

101 “Pendleton 9th December, 1819,” 2, in Records of the Pendleton Sunday School Society, 1819–1824, copied by Mary Pope Jacob, WPA State-wide project 65-33-118, supervised by Anne King Gregorie, 1936, located at University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library. Hereafter referred to as Pendleton Sunday School Society Records.

102 Pendleton Sunday School Society Records, “Pendleton 24th June, 1820, Duties of Teachers,” 14.

103 Sunday and Adult School Union, The Second Report of the Philadelphia Sunday and Adult School Union, Held at their Annual Meeting, Held in St. Paul's Church, May 25, 1819 (Clark & Raser, 1819), 5657, ASSU Papers.

104 Sunday and Adult School Union, Second Report, 63; “Extracts from the Fourth Report,” Religious Intelligencer.

105 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, The Annual Report of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor. Presented at Their Anniversary, Nov. 8th, 1819 (Boston, 1822), 11, Boston Athenaeum.

106 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Sixth Report of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor. Presented at Their Anniversary, Nov. 6, 1822 (Boston, 1822), 18, Boston Athenaeum.

107 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Sixth Report, 18–19.

108 For more on this shift, see Boylan, Sunday School, 133–165.

109 For examples from Philadelphia, see Weigley, Russell F., ed., Philadelphia: A 300-Year History (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982), 254255; Boylan, Sunday School, 23; Nash, Gary, First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of Historical Memory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 147, 180; and Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 55, 182–183. See also Newman, Richard, Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers (New York: New York University Press, 2009).

110 Boylan, Sunday School, 23.

111 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 24. Additional examples on page 9.

112 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Sixth Report, 15. For the opening of the African adult school, see Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Fourth Report of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor. Presented at Their Anniversary, Oct. 11, 1820 (Boston, 1820), 67, Boston Athenaeum.

113 Ashmun, J., Memoir, A. M., Late, and Officer of Marines, in the United States' Service: Afterwards, Attorney at Law in the State of Pennsylvania: And Subsequently, a Minister of the Episcopal Church, and Principle Agent of the American Government for Persons Liberated from Slaveships, on the Coast of Africa; Where He Terminated His Life in the Month of May, 1820 (Washington D.C.: Jacob Gideon, 1822), 107, Boston Athenaeum. For more on nineteenth-century racist paradigms that denied innocence to African Americans while simultaneously infantilizing them, see Bernstein, Racial Innocence. See also Field, The Struggle for Equal Adulthood; and Weikle-Mills, Imaginary Citizens.

114 New York Female Union, Second Report, 50; and New York Female Union Society for the Promotion of Sabbath Schools, The Third Report of the New-York Female Union Society for the Promotion of Sabbath Schools, Read at their Annual Meeting, April 21, 1819: To Which is Added an Appendix (New York: J. Seymour, 1819), 11.

115 For examples, see New York Female Union, Second Report, 67, 10, and Third Report, 8, 12.

116 Pendleton Sunday School Society Records, “1822 April 11th Special Meeting held in Pendleton C.H.”, 20.

117 Pendleton Sunday School Society Records, “Pendleton C.H., S.C. 27 June, 1822, Annual Meeting”, 27.

118 Ibid.

119 Pendleton Sunday School Society Records, “Court House, S. C., 4th Thursday 27th June 1822”, 29.

120 For more on Sunday schools for African Americans in the South, see Cornelius, Janet Duitsman, “When I can Read My Title Clear:” Literacy, Slavery, and Religion in the Antebellum South (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991), 132140; and Lynn, The Big Little School, 36–37.

121 Sunday and Adult School Union, Second Report, 5, 56–57.

122 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, 1817 Report, 3.

123 New York Female Union, Seventh Report, 14. For similar language in the New York Male Union, see First Report, 5; and New York Sunday School Union Society, The Second Report of the New-York Sunday School Union Society, Presented on the 12th of May, 1818 (New York: J. Seymour, 1818), 4, Boston Athenaeum.

124 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 36, 40; and Sunday and Adult School Union, Second Report, 60. See also Walters, American Reformers, 24; Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 289; and Banner, “Religious Benevolence as Social Control,” 35.

125 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 34.

126 For examples of how Sunday school organizations outside these three major cities shared this conversion-centric, millennial outlook, see not only the Pendleton Sunday School Society Records, but also Nathan Parker, An Address Delivered May 23, 1820, to the Teachers of the South Parish Sunday School Portsmouth (1820), Boston Athenaeum; and An Address Delivered Before the Teachers of the South Parish Sunday School (1823), Boston Athenaeum.

127 James, John Angell, The Sunday School Teacher's Guide, 6th edition (Birmingham: John Knott, 1817), 68.

128 Lloyd, W. F., Teacher's Manuel; Or, Hints to a Teacher on Being Appointed to the Charge of a Sunday School Class (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1825), 4748.

129 Boylan, Sunday School, 40–44.

130 Sunday and Adult School Union, Second Report, 12, 19, 25.

131 See Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor reports from 1818–1834.

132 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Second Report of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor. Presented at Their Anniversary, Oct. 22, 1818 (Boston, 1818), 5, Boston Athenaeum.

133 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 12.

134 For examples, see Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 14, 17; and Sunday and Adult School Union, Second Report, 26, 28.

135 New York Female Union, Second Report, 3–4.

136 James, The Sunday School Teacher's Guide, 2–3.

137 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, 1819 Report, 22.

138 For the SASU's similar beliefs, see Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 36–40; and Sunday and Adult School Union, Second Report, 13, 58–59, 61.

139 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 18–19.

140 Ibid., 9.

141 New York Female Union, Third Report, 7. See also New York Male Union, Second Report, 4.

142 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 11, 17–18.

143 Sunday and Adult School Union, Second Report, 17.

144 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Fifth Report of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor. Presented at Their Anniversary, October 17th, 1821 (Boston, 1821), 10, Boston Athenaeum.

145 Gannett, Ezra S., An Address Delivered Before the Boston Sunday School Society, on the Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Sunday School Institution, at the Federal Street Church, September 14, 1831 (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1831), 25, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.

146 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 23.

147 Sunday and Adult School Union, First Report, 38.

148 Sunday and Adult School Union, Second Report, 17.

149 Ashmun, Memoir, 124.

150 See Kett, “Adolescence and Youth in Nineteenth-Century America,” 283–290; and Gossard, Julia M., “Tattletales: Childhood and Authority in Eighteenth-Century France,” The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 10, no. 2 (2017): 169187.

151 Gannett, Address, 22.

152 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Seventh Report of the Directors of the Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor. Presented at the annual Meeting, Nov. 13, 1823 (Boston, 1823), 1922, Boston Athenaeum.

153 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, Seventh Report, 22.

154 For an example, see New York Female Union, Third Report, 4. See also Banner, “Religion and Reform in the Early Republic,” 678–679.

155 For examples, see New York Female Union, Seventh Report, 14; and New York Male Union, First Report, 13.

156 New York Female Union, Second Report, 8–9.

157 Boylan, Sunday School, 103.

158 Winslow, Miron, ed., Memoir of Mrs. Harriet L. Winslow, Thirteen Years a Member of the American Mission in Ceylon (New York: The American Tract Society, 1840), 18.

159 Dana Robert describes Winslow's decision to found a Sunday school as pushing “the boundaries of women's public role beyond its socially accepted limits.” See Robert, Dana L., American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1996), 13.

160 Winslow, Memoir, 65–66, 75–76.

161 Robert, American Women in Mission, 12–14. The history of both Catholic and Protestant missions was already long, rich, and complex by this period. But this was a field historically dominated by men, making Winslow's actions revolutionary for her time.

162 Ayer, Sarah Connell, Diary (Portland, Maine: Lefavor-Tower Company, 1910); and Baird, Robert, Memoir of Anna Jane Linnard (Philadelphia: Henry Perkins, 1835). For another example, see Biography of Mrs. Lydia B. Bacon (Boston: Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, 1856).

163 Described in a letter from Anne Coleman to Lucy Oliver, Dec. 24, 1833, Oliver Family Papers, 1807–1864, Accession #10307, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

164 Sunday School Receiving Books for 1827–1836 and 1836–1850, Brandywine Manufacturers and Christ Church Sunday School Records, Box 1, Acc. 389, Folder 3, Receiving Books 1817–1872, Hagley Museum and Library.

165 Boylan, Sunday School, 114–126; and Miller, Page Putnam, “Women in the Vanguard of the Sunday School Movement,” The Journal of Presbyterian History 76, no. 1 (1998): 45. Women were the majority of school teachers of all kind in the nineteenth century. For example, by 1860 sixty-five to eighty percent of the teachers in urban areas were female. See Kelley, Learning to Stand and Speak, 10. See also Nash, Women's Education in the United States.

166 South Carolina Sunday School Union, Report of the South-Carolina Sunday School Union, for the Year Ending Dec. 1826 (Charleston: C. C. Sebring, 1827), 1011, University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library.

167 For an example, see Benevolence of Females,” The American Sunday School Magazine 2 (1825): 272.

168 Boston Society for the Religious and Moral Instruction of the Poor, 1819 Report, 9.

169 New York Male Union, First Report, 8.

170 New York Male Union, First Report, 9.

171 New York Female Union, Fifth Report, 31. This is but one of many examples. Boylan argues that this high rate of conversion among teachers was common for all Sunday school organizations, see Boylan, Sunday School, 103–104.

172 Anonymous, Letters on Sabbath Schools, (Boston: William Peirce, on behalf of Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, 1835), 1314, Boston Athenaeum.

173 General Assembly's Narrative,” The American Sunday School Magazine 1 (1824): 19.

174 Influence of Sunday Schools Upon Family Religion,” The American Sunday School Magazine 1, no. 2 (1824): 39.

175 Gannett, Address, 22.

176 Sunday and Adult School Union, “Philadelphia Sunday and Adult School Union, Fifth Report – May 21, 1822,” Boston Recorder, June 8, 1822. For instructions to SASU missionaries, see “George B. Claxton for the Sunday and Adult School Union to William C. Blair, August 1, 1821,” in SASU Letter Book, ASSU Papers, PHS. See also Reinier, From Virtue to Character, 89.

177 “Sunday School Union: From the Seventh Report of the Sunday and Adult School Union, 1824,” The Columbian Star, June 19, 1824; Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 66.

178 Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 71–80.

179 The Sixth Report of the American Sunday-School Union: Presented at Their Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, May 25, 1830 (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1830), 24.

180 Noll, Mark, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), 230; and American Sunday School Union, The Fourth Report of the American Sunday-School Union: Read at Their Annual Meeting, Held in the City of Philadelphia, on Tuesday Afternoon, May 20, 1828 (Philadelphia: I. Ashmead & Co., 1828), 4. This number would have been higher if it included the African American and Native American children who also attended Sunday schools.

181 Boylan, Sunday Schools, 162–164.

182 South Carolina Sunday School Union, Constitution and By-Laws of the South Carolina Sunday School Union. Forty-First Anniversary Report and Proceedings (Charleston: Evans & Cogswell, 1860), 8, University of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library, 9–10.

183 South Carolina Sunday School Union, Forty-First Anniversary Report and Proceedings, 12.

Research support for this article was provided by the Congregational Library and Archives, the Boston Athenaeum, and the Baylor University Graduate School. Versions of this article were presented at the American Historical Association, the American Society of Church History, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Boston College Biennial Conference on the History of Religion. I received helpful comments from each of these audiences. I would also like to thank Thomas S. Kidd, Timothy Grundmeier, and Paul Gutacker for the incisive feedback they provided on multiple drafts of this project, along with their unflagging support and encouragement.

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