Religion in American History

Religion in American History

Religion in American History

Religion in American History


This student-friendly introduction combines both thematic and chronological approaches in exploring the pivotal role religion played in American history - and of its impact across a range of issues, from identity formation and politics, to race, gender, and class.
  • A comprehensive introduction to American religious history that successfully combines thematic and chronological approaches, aiding both teaching and learning
  • Brings together a stellar cast of experts to trace the development of theology, the political order, practice, and race, ethnicity, gender and class throughout America's history
  • Accessibly structured in to four key eras: Exploration and Encounter (1492-1676); The Atlantic World (1676-1802); American Empire (1803-1898); and Global Reach (1898-present).
  • Investigates the role of religion in forming people's identities, emotional experiences, social conflict, politics, and patriotism


Amanda Porterfield and John Corrigan

Alligators in Paradise, Palm Trees in Hell

The Robert Sayer map of 1786 shown on the cover depicts “America, north and south” in relation to the Caribbean islands, western Africa, and western Europe. In other words, it draws the Atlantic world. It identifies that world in text within an ornamental cartouche in the bottom right corner of the map. The art of that cartouche informs as much as the text. A map, as a commercial artifact, often represented through ornamentation the products of the region it depicted. In addition to the usual figures of Neptune and a cherub, a cartouche could include images of fish, game, lumber, crafted commodities, a cornucopia of fruit and grains, and other goods, as well as images of prospective trading partners, depending on how much the printer wished to advertise reasons to travel to the place. Information about the cartographer and about nations with interests in the area also could be included. In the case of the Sayer map, the cartouche identifies the recently formed “United States of America” as well as the “several European possessions.” This information is framed by a most interesting circle of images: an alligator sitting on a rock, an Indian headdress and wampum belt, layers of waterfalls, a dense sampling of exotic trees, twisting vines and flowering plants, the material ruins of a civilization, and a beaver. No human figures are present. The beaver, of course, was hunted for its fur, which was the crucial component of the felt hats that were so popular in Europe well into the nineteenth century. The Indian artifacts likewise were meant to identify the possibilities for commercial exchange with natives. But would an alligator attract people to America? Would a ruined civilization entice? Would the absence of people appeal? Would snakelike vines draw interest? Would a place thick with jungle-grade vegetation prove an incentive to commercial investment? Thomas Pownall’s competing map, also printed in 1786, included a cartouche decorated with drawings of handsome Native Americans at peace with nature, thriving in a rich material culture, smiling as they sat peaceably petting a sleepy cougar. Why was the Sayer map different and what was its message?

The Sayer map represents a conception of North America that was common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and that remained in residue in the eighteenth and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


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.