Revolution, Religion, and National Identity: Imperial Anglicanism in British North America, 1745-1795

By Geissler, Suzanne | Anglican and Episcopal History, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Revolution, Religion, and National Identity: Imperial Anglicanism in British North America, 1745-1795


Geissler, Suzanne, Anglican and Episcopal History


PETER M. DOLL. Revolution, Religion, and National Identity: Imperial Anglicanism in British North America, 1745-1795. Madison, New jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2000. Pp. 336, bibliography, index. $49.50.

Peter Doll has given us a thoroughly researched study of colonial American Anglicanism. He provides a perspective based on unusual categories of geography and chronology. Instead of viewing the thirteen colonies/states as a single discrete unit, he places them in the larger entity of British North America, which includes Canada as well. Likewise, instead of using common chronological breakpoints such as 1763, 1775, or 1783, he focuses on the time frame 1745-1795, a period that encompassed such events as the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, the acquisition of French Canada into the British F.mpire, American independence, the appointment of the first colonial bishop to Nova Scotia, and the establishment of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Doll has done an excellent job of research in primary sources and demonstrates how religion and politics were intertwined in the British government's imperial policy. His difficulty, however, lies in shaping this information into a coherent thesis. A key component of Doll's thesis is that the planting and promoting of the established church was an important part of British colonial policy. So it was, but the particular views of how this importance should be translated into policy varied considerably from politician to politician and from churchman to churchman. Although Doll devotes considerable attention to the church-state theories of various bishops, the end result was that political considerations invariably trumped religious ones. In the 176Os for example, the British government felt it had to mollify both French Canadian Catholics and New England dissenters. …

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