The Evangelical ASCENDENCY in Revolutionary America

Susan Juster

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199746705
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Evangelical ASCENDENCY in Revolutionary America

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  • History
  • United States History
  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The American Revolution has spawned a number of creation myths, one of which relates to the wave of religious revivals that swept the colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. This chapter offers a different creation story: the pitched battle on May 26, 1771 that pitted angry farmers against the colonial militia in Hillsborough, North Carolina. The Great Awakening sparked the politicization of evangelicals in America. A process that the historian Nathan Hatch calls “the democratization of American Christianity” spanned five decades, bookended by the First and Second Great Awakenings with the American Revolution as the fulcrum point. The chapter discusses the evangelical ascendency in all its dimensions, focusing on five discrete “typologies” of evangelical Protestantism: the Insurgent, the Consumer, the Patriarch, the Martyr, and the Patriot. Each of these typologies tells us something important about both the history and the historiography of the evangelical contribution to the political crisis of the 1770s. The chapter concludes by looking at evangelical patriots and reexamining the relationship between revived religion and the American Revolution.

Keywords: evangelicals; evangelical ascendency; American Revolution; patriots; revived religion; Protestantism; Great Awakening; farmers; militia; America

Article.  9197 words. 

Subjects: History ; United States History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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