AMERICAN PROTESTANTISM'S TEACHINGS TO YOUNG MEN
Clifford E. Clark Jr.
Since many young Americans drew their deepest beliefs from Protestant Christianity, the changes that were wrought in the Christian message in the nineteenth century are an indispensable aid in understanding the formation of social outlooks and values. Manuals of advice on behavior, manners, and the means of success, aimed at youthful audiences, were a popular literary genre of the times. Most of these works were written by ministers, and no minister was more widely known than Henry Ward Beecher, son of Lyman Beecher and younger brother of Catharine. In this essay about Beecher's Seven Lectures to Young Men, Clifford E. Clark, Jr., discusses the changing emphases in Beecher's application of Protestant teachings to the problems and decisions facing young men. Notable themes developed in this analysis include the transformation of spiritual into secular values and the stress on personal internalization of social restraints and controls.
The changing American conception of success is the subject of John G. Cawelti, Apostles of the Self-Made Man ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), and Irvin G. Wyllie , The Self-Made Man in America ( New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1954). See also the extensive set of documents reprinted in Moses Rischin, ed., The American Gospel of Success ( Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1965).