Have you ever wondered about how early American men, women, and slaves worshipped?
Religion played a large role in why some Europeans settled in British North America.
The Puritans of New England, the German Protestants of the Mid-Atlantic region, and the Catholics of Maryland all migrated to North America to worship freely, to name but a few religious groups in colonial North America.
Kyle T. Bulthuis, Assistant Professor of History at Utah State University and author of Four Steeples over the City Streets: Religion and Society in New York's Early Republic Congregations, takes us on an exploration of early American religious life.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with an historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
In this episode, Kyle T. Bulthuis, Assistant Professor of History at Utah State University and author of Four Steeples over the City Streets: Religion and Society in New York's Early Republic Congregations leads us on an exploration of early American religious life.
Using New York City as the focus for our investigation, Kyle reveals what the religious landscape of colonial North America and the early republic United States looked like; How the Anglican and Methodist churches and their congregants weathered the American Revolution and thrived after it; And what the religious history of New York City can tell us about the religious history of the wider United States during the early republic period.
What You’ll Discover
- What attracted Kyle to early American history and the study of early American religious history
- A brief overview of the types of religions early Americans practiced during the colonial period
- Why Kyle chose to study two Anglican/Episcopalian and two Methodist congregations in New York City during the early republic period
- How Anglicanism helped to promote British imperialism during the colonial period
- The differences between Anglicanism and Methodism
- How Methodism began as a missionary wing of the Anglican Church
- What an “establishment” church was and what privileges it enjoyed over other churches in the community
- The role Trinity Anglican Church played in colonial New York City life as an “establishment” church
- Why Anglicans became Episcopalians after the American Revolution
- How the Anglican congregation of Trinity Church survived the American Revolution and thrived after it
- How Trinity Church promoted social order in post-Revolution New York City
- The social makeup of the Trinity Church congregation in post-Revolution New York City
- How New York City Methodists weathered the American Revolution
- Information about the social makeup of the John Street Methodist Church congregation
- Whether New York City white and black Episcopalians and Methodists worshiped in the same church
- Why African Americans wanted to form their own Methodist and Episcopal congregations
- How early American churches mirrored the social world of early republic
- Why a race riot erupted on July 4, 1834 and what effects the riot had on St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and its African-American congregants
- The role women played in New York City religious life
- What the religious history of New York City can tell us about the religious history of the wider United States during the early republic period
- Whether we should consider the American Revolution as a “war of religion”
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Kyle T. Bulthuis
- Kyle’s Utah State Webpage
- Four Steeples over the City Streets: Religion and Society in New York's Early Republic Congregations
- NYU Press Website
Time Warp Question
What might have happened if the Anglicans and Methodists had not permitted their African-American congregants to form the Mother Zion Methodist and St. Philip’s Episcopal churches?
How would the lack of predominantly black churches have effected New York’s policies concerning slavery, free African Americans, and the religious life of the city?
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*Images of New York City Churches courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Gallery