Religion and Society in America The Emergence of Modern American Religious Life – Part 1 Week 7 – Lecture 1 The Emergence of Modern American Religious Life – Part 1 Everyday Life in America Changes within the Benevolent Empire Divisions from within Protestant America A Preview of External Threats to Protestant America Everyday Life in America “A strange formlessness marks the halfcentury which follows the Civil War. The term “postbellum America” lacks the specificity of “antebellum America.” One explanation for the difficulty is that evangelicalism was no longer calling the tune—or more accurately, that fewer people were heeding the call.” Sydney Ahlstrom - A Religious History of the American People Everyday Life in America Historians difficulty in defining terminology for era is reflective of the tremendous changes taking place The “postbellum” 1860 – 1900 Reconstruction: 1865 – 1870, 76, 77 The Gilded Age: 1870 – 1900 Victorian America: 1850s – 1890s The New South: 1877 – 1930s The Progressive Era: 1889 – 1920 The Age of Populism: 1890 - ? Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) The population of the US reaches 39,818,449 in 1870, a 36% increase in numbers since the last census of 1860. During the next three decades, this rate of growth or the percentage of increase over the previous census would fall no lower than 25%. By the opening of the next century, America’s population would reach 79,994,575. The number of Americans living in cities reached nearly 50 percent. Immigrants, mostly from southern, central, and eastern Europe arrive by the millions. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) The unequal impact of industrialism underlay the emergence of a variety of new social movements. In rapid succession, white workers embarked upon a series of organizing drives: the Knights of Labor in the late 1870s, the American Federation of Labor during the 1890s, the Socialist Party of America in the early 1900s, and the Industrial Workers of the World after 1905. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) African Americans, European immigrants, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans all intensified their separate institutional and community-building activities, designed to fight the impact of racial, class, and ethnic discrimination on their lives. Pluralistic religious expression slowly builds in America Following the Spanish-American War, the United States also took its place as a new empire with its own colonial claims over peoples of color in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) NAACP (1909) and the National Urban League (1910) are formed by African Americans and a small number of whites. Susan B. Anthony, vice-president-at-large of the National Woman Suffrage Association is arrested and fined $100 in New York for casting a vote in the 1872 presidential election. James Garfield, 20th president, was shot by a disappointed office seeker on July 2, 1881 and died on Sept. 19, 1881. He was succeeded by Chester A. Arthur (1829-86). Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) While encountering economic depressions in the 1870s and 1890s, the nation’s economy continued to grow on the heels of “standardization” and the booming railroad system. Bulk machinery from Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward made up only part of freight-rail traffic which included a sundry of products including dried goods. As one historian has noted, each new box of consumer products that arrived by rail to small towns everywhere carried with it the implicit message, “this is the new way of the world.” Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) Union Pacific-Central Pacific Line completed in 1869. The first railroad car to have traveled from the Pacific coast arrives in New York in July, 1870. Between 1880 and 1910 the population of the South grew by five million. One out of every six Southerners lived in a town or village. Compared to the Midwest or North, the South remained a rural region but was undergoing dramatic economic changes. Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 1907 Cotton Plantation outside Atlanta, Georgia c.1917 Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) Refrigerated railroad cars developed in the 1870s, which revolutionized the distribution of food in parts of the United States. The new ability to deliver goods quickly also ushers in the heyday of the “American cowboy” as the demand for meat in eastern markets soars. Barbed wire is invented revolutionizing farming and opening up the West to large agricultural production. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) By 1878, New Haven becomes the first city to operate a telephone switchboard system on a regular basis. The first long-distance service between New York and Boston was offered in 1884. The year 1877 also witnessed massive labor strikes particularly in the railroad industry. Federal troops were called out several times throughout the period to put down union movements for increased wages. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) Unprecedented concentrations of wealth among select families known as “the 400.” The ostentatious forms in which this wealth was displayed gives credence to the label, the “Gilded Age.” During this period, Vanderbilt, the Chicago railroad magnate, makes his notorious decree “the public be damned.” (1900) the South constitutes only 11% of the nation’s population Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) A roller skating craze sweeps the nation in the 1870s. In 1880, Cleveland, Ohio becomes the first city to boost an electrical streetlight system. 1887 Thomas A. Edison first markets the phonograph in New York City. First moving picture show was shown in New York City in 1896. In 1897, the first Boston marathon was run. John McDermott wins the race in 2 hours 55 minutes. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) By 1900, 14% of all homes had bathtubs, and only 8% had phones. At the turn of the century, Americans owned 8,000 cars and the nation had 144 miles of paved roads. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) Musical instruments such as banjos were mass produced in the 1880s and guitars in the 1890s. The mass production of instruments coupled with the rise of rail travel leads to an explosion in musical expression. A type of cross-pollination occurs as country, “ragged” music, gospel, and jazz begin to make inroads into new markets. Young evangelists and entertainers often accompanied one another performing at the same events in small towns. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) Epidemics of yellow fever, cholera, and smallpox swept through Southern cities (and Northern cities) killing thousands during these decades. In 1878 alone, 14,000 Americans die from these diseases. Proscribed cures include cigars and whiskey. In August 1873, plagues of grasshoppers and droughts devastate western farmers. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) The “Wild West” thrives in towns such as Abilene, Kansas where “Wild Bill” Hickok, who had previously killed 43 people, became the marshal of the town. Frank and Jesse James form a gang during these years robbing numerous banks in the Midwest. The robberies continue until 1882 when Jesse James was shot dead. His brother soon surrendered to authorities, was acquitted of all charges against him, and lived out his life in Missouri. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) So-called “Indian Wars” are carried out throughout the west during the 1870s – 1890s. Anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, and anti-foreign groups grow rapidly in the midst of the waves of immigrants coming to the United States. In 1880, it is estimated that 17% of the nation is illiterate. Child labor sours in popularity in both the North and the South during this time. By 1890, it is estimated that 23,000 children were at work in factories and agriculture. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) In 1900, more than 95% of all births took place in the home. By 1900, the average laborer in the U.S. made 22 cents an hour and brought home $200 to $400 annually. In 1900, the five leading causes of death in the U.S. were: pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, diarrhea, heart disease, and stroke. That same year only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school. Everyday Life in America – “The Gilded Age” (1865 – 1900) In 1900, the average life expectancy in the United States was 47 years of age. That same year only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school. Changes within the Benevolent Empire Henry Ward Beecher, minister of the Plymouth Congregational Church of Brooklyn, NY achieves national prominence by 1868. So popular are Beecher’s sermons that they are reprinted in the nation’s leading papers on the following Tuesday and are sold outside the church for 5 cents a copy. Changes within the Benevolent Empire Dwight L. Moody begins his career organizing revival meetings in the East in 1875. During the next two decades, Moody would become the premiere evangelical preacher in the nation. His work included hymn writing and the establishment of several “bible institutes.” His death on December 22, 1899 marked a sea change in the nation’s religious life. Changes within the Benevolent Empire William Ashley “Billy” Sunday, a former professional baseball player and YMCA employee in Chicago, begins to evangelize to small crowds in 1896. He was ordained in 1903 in the Presbyterian Church and by the time of his death he had preached to more people than any other preacher in America. Changes within the Benevolent Empire 5 “characteristics” within Protestantism from pre- and post-war Moral “reforms” of the antebellum period, during the postbellum kept pace with different focus Women’s roles as “moral and spiritual” leaders continue to expand into the public sphere Changes within the Benevolent Empire Ideological reforms of society, in turn, affect reforms in the churches (example – women in the pulpit & Holiness movements). Laissez-faire economics coupled with ideas of self-help, both religious and secular, bring about a crisis in Protestantism. Social reforms cast in light of mission. The adoption and adaptation of business practices and organization within the reformist sphere. Divisions from within Protestant America Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. described his generation as “almost the first of young men who have been brought up in an atmosphere of investigation.” Divisions from within Protestant America Meeting of the First Vatican Council in 1869 in which Cardinal Manning advocates for a definition of “Papal Infallibility.” In “The Gay Science” published in 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche makes his observation the “death of God.” 1859 Charles Darwin publishes his Origin of Species Divisions from within Protestant America 1859 Charles Darwin publishes his Origin of Species. In postwar America, a considerable debate emerges concerning it meaning among the intellectual elite. Divisions from within Protestant America “New” methods and forms of academic study of the Bible first derived in Europe in the previous decades begin to take a foothold in the United States. Use of archeological findings, and the advent of textual criticism begin to threaten the very foundations of American Protestantism. Divisions from within Protestant America Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) publishes her Women’s Bible in 1892 and 1895 Introduction to the Women’s Bible While their clergymen told them on the one hand, that they owed all the blessings and freedom they enjoyed to the Bible, on the other, they said it clearly marked out their circumscribed sphere of action: that the demands for political and civil rights were irreligious, dangerous to the stability of the home, the state and the church. Clerical appeals were circulated from time to time conjuring members of their churches to take no part in the anti-slavery or woman suffrage movements, as they were infidel in their tendencies, undermining the very foundations of society. No wonder the majority of women stood still, and with bowed heads, accepted the situation. Introduction to the Women’s Bible Others fear that they might compromise their evangelical faith by affiliating with those of more liberal views, who do not regard the Bible as the "Word of God," but like any other book, to be judged by its merits. If the Bible teaches the equality of Woman, why does the church refuse to ordain women to preach the gospel, to fill the offices of deacons and elders, and to administer the Sacraments, or to admit them as delegates to the Synods, General Assemblies and Conferences of the different denominations? They have never yet invited a woman to join one of their Revising Committees, nor tried to mitigate the sentence pronounced on her by changing one count in the indictment served on her in Paradise. Divisions from within Protestant America Orello Cone publishes his work Gospel Criticism and Historical Christianity in 1891. Cone’s work is widely popular and becomes the first to spread the methods of biblical criticism, long-since advanced by German scholars, concerning the biblical text. During the same year Washington Gladden writes Who Wrote the Bible? which sought to mediate between proponents of the new criticism and those affirming more traditional views. Divisions from within Protestant America Booker T. Washington founds the Tuskegee Institute in 1881. Josiah Strong publishes Our Country in 1885. The work criticized America’s new concentration of wealth and challenged churches to concern themselves with social problems. With the publication of The New Era in 1893, Strong becomes a national figure. His works were so popular, they are published into several European languages, as well as Chinese and Japanese. Divisions from within Protestant America In 1878, Methodist-sponsored Vanderbilt University dismissed Alexander Winchell, a geologist, for his findings which contradicted biblical chronology. Robert G. Ingersoll, described by one historian as the “John the Baptist” of American agnosticism in the late-nineteenth century, declared that “every new religion has a little less superstition than the old, so that the religion of science is but a question of time.” Divisions within Protestant America Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (denomination) established in Jackson, Tennessee in 1870. In 1872, Charles Taze Russell organizes a group of followers who would eventually become known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mary Baker Eddy publishes Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1875). Four years later, the Church of Christ, Scientist was founded (Christian Scientists). A Preview of External Threats to Protestant America The “excision” of God from culture gains a greater following by the close of the century. “By the end of the 1860s, science had little use for God. This was really no sudden transformation (though its last stages raised considerable noise around Charles Darwin). Rather, the excision of God from science culminated a long trend, the eventual outcome of which had been forecast long before… A Preview of External Threats to Protestant America After Darwin’s Origin of Species appeared in 1859, God rapidly became redundant in the whole business…The Darwinian hypothesis of natural selection explained two of three great instances of divine activity in biology—the origin of species and the adaptation of animals and plants…Ten years later, Thomas Huxley proposed a solution to the remaining mystery of biology, the origin of life. The basic unit of life, he claimed, was protoplasm.” A Preview of External Threats to Protestant America Anthropology invested with social scientific methods suggest that human “need” for transcend being really just a “coping mechanism” for nature’s mysteries. Arguments “of the heart” that suggested primal religious impulses or immediate intuitions of the divine. Intellectual uncertainties about religious belief produced the conviction that knowledge of God laid beyond human powers of comprehension.