"The Democratization of American Christianity" by Nathan O. Hatch

The Democratization of American Christianity Nathan O. Hatch

Publication date:
23 Jan 1991
Yale University Press
326 pages: 235 x 156mm
12 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

A provocative reassessment of religion and culture in the early days of the American republic

"The so-called Second Great Awakening was the shaping epoch of American Protestantism, and this book is the most important study of it ever published."—James Turner, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Winner of the John Hope Franklin Publication Prize, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic book prize, and the Albert C. Outler Prize

In this provocative reassessment of religion and culture in the early days of the American republic, Nathan O. Hatch argues that during this period American Christianity was democratized and common people became powerful actors on the religious scene. Hatch examines five distinct traditions or mass movements that emerged early in the nineteenth century—the Christian movement, Methodism, the Baptist movement, the black churches, and the Mormons—showing how all offered compelling visions of individual potential and collective aspiration to the unschooled and unsophisticated.

"The most powerful, informed, and complex suggestion yet made about the religious, political, and psychic 'opening' of American life from Jefferson to Jackson. . . . Hatch's reconstruction of his five religious mass movements will add popular religious culture to denominationalism, church and state, and theology as primary dimensions of American religious history."—Robert M. Calhoon, William and Mary Quarterly

"Hatch's revisionist work asks us to put the religion of the early republic in a radically new perspective. . . . He has written one of the finest books on American religious history to appear in many years."—James H. Moorhead, Theology Today

"Professor Hatch's amply documented study captures a wide range of the many-sided demands for equality and freedom that have characterized American Protestant Christianity, and the disdain for deference and patronage—nowhere more so than among black preachers. . . . The Democratization of American Christianity constitutes vital reading for those who would understand just what experience of the United States has done to Christian belief and practice."—Bryan Wilson, Times Literary Supplement

"This study sheds important new light on early American social history. It extends a central theme that historians have used to explain political history into a new arena. It offers fresh ideas about the development of the evangelical movement that are important for all students of history to understand. In short, this book makes an important new contribution to social history."—Richard G. Miller, History: Reviews of New Books

"Hatch provides an excellent account of the rise of democratically based, anti-elitist Protestant denominations in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century America, linking them historically to the egalitarianism of Jeffersonian America. . . . This excellent study belongs in all academic libraries with serious American studies or religion collections. It is especially useful in providing guidance needed for further research, since many of the minor figures introduced by Hatch deserve full-length studies. Hatch deserves praise for a major effort!"—Library Journal

"Great riches of information and insight: it is most warmly recommended."—Martin Fagg, Church Times

"[A] perceptive and carefully-researched study."—Malcolm Bull, London Review of Books

Winner of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic’s annual book prize for the best book in the history of the early republic (1789-1850) published in 1989

Selected for the distinction of best books in American studies published in 1989 by the American Studies Association

Winner of the 1988 Albert C. Outler Prize in Ecumenical Church History given by the American Society of Church History

Winner of the American Studies Association distinction for best books in American studies published in 1989

Winner of a Christianity Today 1990-91 Critics’ Choice Award

"This is the best book on religion in the early Republic that has ever been written."—Gordon S. Wood, Brown University

"This deeply researched, superbly written book goes to the very heart of American religious and cultural development."—Jon Butler, Yale University