Evangelical Virginians in 1790 and 1850,
by Race and Denomination
Denominational statistics are never as accurate as historians would like for them to be, but they are the best available measure for how deeply evangelicalism penetrated into the cultural and intellectual life of the Old Dominion. Statistics from 1790 and 1850 reveal the remarkable rise to influence of white evangelicals, and the equally remarkable tripling—almost quadrupling—of black evangelical adherence from 1790 to 1850.
Table 1 in the Introduction does not include Presbyterians or Episcopalians, for two reasons. First, the records for the Baptists and Methodists are better, and the numbers are more reliable.1 In the data below, I have extrapolated the number of Presbyterians and Episcopalians in 1790 from numbers of congregations, for no statewide membership lists survive.2 Second, most Presbyterians and all Episcopalians would have resisted the label “evangelical” in 1790, so the comparison is asymmetrical from 1790 to 1850.