God Ordained This War: Sermons on the Sectional Crisis, 1830-1865

God Ordained This War: Sermons on the Sectional Crisis, 1830-1865

God Ordained This War: Sermons on the Sectional Crisis, 1830-1865

God Ordained This War: Sermons on the Sectional Crisis, 1830-1865

Excerpt

Sydney E. Ahlstrom, the noted authority on America's religious history, has written of the preaching in the nation during the Civil War era: "The pulpits resounded with a vehemence and absence of restraint never equaled in American history." Indeed, to read the sermons of ministers on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line is to become aware of how greatly the preachers contributed to the war spirit that turned Americans against each other in the mid-nineteenth century.

The contribution of religion, and preaching as a particular and powerful expression of religion, to America's sectional strife in the mid-nineteenth century is a factor of which historians are taking increasing notice. Berringer and his colleagues have noted that "at no time was organized religion in the United States more active politically than in the twenty years prior to the war," and therefore, they assert, that in a real sense "the war was one between the churches of the North and those of the South."

It should be noted that many historians have failed to see religion as playing a vital role in the events which culminated in the Civil War. Kenneth Stampp has edited a volume entitled The Causes of the Civil War, a compilation of eighty-two articles which present views of men who lived during the crisis as well as postwar historians. Each article addresses itself to various causes of the war, and not one of them gives religion major attention. Only a very few give religion even minor attention. The same judgment could be made for Slavery as a Cause of the Civil War, edited by Edwin C. Rozwenc. James McPherson's book, Battle Cry of Freedom, is one of the finest one-volume works that exists on the Civil War. Yet it is disappointing to note how little attention McPherson gives to the role of religion in promoting sectional strife. On the other hand, several historians, and their number is increasing, have taken notice of religion as a primary factor in bringing about the War between the States. As this volume unfolds, the reader will become aware of these sources.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.