The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860

The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860

The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860

The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826-1860

Excerpt

One of the most fascinating and most challenging phases of history is the study of ideas--their evolution, transmission, and influence on the actions of men. While political and economic factors frequently are of primary importance in explaining the past, nevertheless the thoughts men live by, their attitudes, opinions, and prejudices often shape the course of events.

This is a study of the ideas of a group of men who, while holding responsible posts in a profession carrying religious authority, were in a position through their secular pronouncements to influence many in their generation. Although eventually during the expanding industrialization and materialism of the nineteenth century they came to resemble voices crying in the wilderness, the thoughts and writings of American Protestant evangelists were frequently compelling and persuasive in the years before the Civil War.

To Dr. John A. Krout, Vice President of Columbia University, under whose guidance this study was begun, and to Professor Richard B. Morris, whose wise counseling helped to bring it to completion, I owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude. I am also deeply grateful to Professors Dumas Malone, Harry J. Carman, and Henry Steele Commager of Columbia University and Professor Robert T. Handy of Union Theological Seminary for their criticism of the manuscript and for their helpful suggestions. I am indebted to Lawrence H. Chamberlain and Nicholas M. McKnight, Deans of Columbia College, whose constant encouragement was a source of strength. Grateful acknowledgement is due the many librarians whose cheerful co-operation turned the task of research into a fascinating journey of discovery. To my wife, Mary, I am grateful for her ever-present, cheerful support. What errors of fact or interpretation there remain, however, are my own.

CHARLES C. COLE, JR.

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