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Internet Resources for Learning About Religion in Colonial America

Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
Encompassing over 200 objects "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic" explores the role religion played in the founding of the American colonies, in the shaping of early American life and politics, and in forming the American Republic. There are seven sections devoted to the following: American as Refuge: The Seventeenth Century; Religion in Eighteenth-Century America; Religion and the American Revolution; Religion and the Congress of the Confederation; Religion and the State Governments; Religion and the Federal Government ; and Republican Religion. Standards 8.2.5 and 11.3.1

Religion and Revolution
This is the text of a second lecture by historian Terry Matthews at Wake Forest University describing connections between religious beliefs of the day and the American Revolution. Matthews argues here that the Declaration of Independence was a religious document. The religion that infused it was Deism. This was clear in its assertion of inherent rights that can be intuited by human reason. Deism was the religion of the Enlightenment with its emphasis on the human ability to shape and order society into a harmonious and prosperous civilization. Matthews also says that the idea of a compact between the governed and government was little more than a secular version of Calvinist Covenant Theology. Standards 8.1.1, 10.1.1, 11.1.2, and 11.3.1

An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom
This bill, drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1777, first appeared in the form of a broadside, printed in Williamsburg in 1779. The only known copy of the original broadside belongs to the Boston Public Library. Standard 8.2.5

Middle Colonies as the Birthplace of American Religious Pluralism
The mid-Atlantic region, unlike either New England or the South, drew many of its early settlers from European countries that had been deeply disrupted by the Protestant Reformation and the religious wars that followed in its wake. Small congregations of Dutch Mennonites, French Huguenots, German Baptists, and Portuguese Jews joined larger communions of Dutch Reformed, Lutherans, Quakers, and Anglicans to create a uniquely diverse religious society. African Americans and the indigenous Indians, with religious traditions of their own, added further variety to the religious diversity of the Middle Colonies. Standards 5.4.3, and 8.1.1

Quakers in Brief
Quakerism began in the middle years of the Seventeenth Century, or "The Century of Revolution". There was a political revolution in England that led to Civil War, but also a revolution in science, in religion, in thought generally. People were questioning authority in a number of ways, all about the same time. The Quakers, along with other dissenters against the established church, sought to worship as they wanted. Many came to America in search of that freedom. Standard 5.4.3 and 8.1.1

First Great Awakening
Christine Leigh Heyrman, historian from the University of Delaware, describes the ideas and the leaders of the First Great Awakening. Then she suggests ways to facilitate discussion about its causes and results that do not offend religious conservatives. Standard 8.1.1

Native American Religion in Early America
Compare Native American and European religions in order to study how they interacted in early America. Standard 5.3.2

First Great Awakening
What historians call "the first Great Awakening" can best be described as a revitalization of religious piety that swept through the American colonies between the 1730s and the 1770s. That revival was part of a much broader movement, an evangelical upsurge taking place simultaneously on the other side of the Atlantic, most notably in England, Scotland, and Germany. In all these Protestant cultures during the middle decades of the eighteenth century, a new Age of Faith rose to counter the currents of the Age of Enlightenment, to reaffirm the view that being truly religious meant trusting the heart rather than the head, prizing feeling more than thinking, and relying on biblical revelation rather than human reason. Standards 8.1.1 and 11.3.2

America's Great Awakening
This is a brief outline of the First Great Awakening, including its characteristics of breaking from traditional religious authority and emphasis on individualism, and its relation to American independence. Standards 8.1.1 and 11.3.2

Pilgrims and Puritans
The religious issues which motivated many English people to emigrate to New England did not cease to exist once those people reached the new world. Religion played a major role in the daily life of the colonists and continued to be a motivating factor in the settlement of new towns and colonies in New England. Whether or not religion was the reason for Thomas and Anne Brownell's emigration to America, it was a factor that was to have a great influence on their lives and the lives of their family. Standard 5.4.3

Religion in Colonial America
This is a brief overview of the topic with a side bar listing key people, places and events related to the history of religion in colonial America. Standard 5.4.3

Religion and the Church in the 13 American Colonies
This is a brief, clearly written introduction to the topic of colonial religion in America. Standards 5.4.2 and 8.1.1

Baptists in America to the 1840s
This text only and fairly lengthy article traces the American Baptist history from the first Baptists in England, through Roger Williams, and the later effort to embed religious liberty in the U.S. Constitution. Standards 5.4.2 and 8.1.1

The Religion the Slaves Made
Slave owners felt that part of their duty to their charges was to provide religious teaching in Christianity while stamping out traditional African beliefs. However, African beliefs in one Supreme Being, in a realistic distinction between good and evil, in lesser spiritual powers, and in creation as the handiwork of God, paralleled much in the Judeo-Christian tradition. These similarities lessened the cultural shock as the African came into contact with the tenets of White Evangelicalism. Religious institutions among the slaves were not specifically African, but African religious behavior was not totally erased, as is clear from black music, dance and folk practices. Standards 5.4.6, 8.7.2

Slavery and Religion in America: A Time Line 1440-1866
Beginning in 1440 this timeline outlines the relationship between religious beliefs and moral thinking and the institution of slavery. Standards 5.4.6, 8.7.2 and 8.7.4

Religion and Slavery
Except for the Society of Friends, all religious groups in America supported slavery. In the South black people were often not allowed to attend church services. Those churches that did accept them would segregate them from white worshipers. Primary sources support the secondary information. Standards 5.4.6, 8.7.2 and 8.7.4

Colonial History of Maryland
This article describes the history of how Maryland became a Roman Catholic colony and the relationship between the Catholic clergy and the Native Americans. Standard 5.4.3

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> Religion in Colonial America Lessons