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Religion and Everyday Life in the Colonies Eileen Luhr

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1 Religion and Everyday Life in the Colonies Eileen Luhr

2 Focus question for today: How do historians study daily life and social relations in the colonies? Focus questions for presentation: a)What role did religion play in everyday colonial life? b)How did religion shape colonists' understanding of social relationships and practices?

3 Content standards for presentation: 5.4 Students understand the political, religious, social, and economic institutions that evolved in the colonial era. 3. Describe the religious aspects of the earliest colonies (e.g., Puritanism in Massachusetts, Anglicanism in Virginia, Catholicism in Maryland, Quakerism in Pennsylvania). 4. Identify the significance and leaders of the First Great Awakening, which marked a shift in religious ideas, practices, and allegiances in the colonial period, the growth of religious toleration, and free exercise of religion.

4 What is the connection between the focus question for the day and the focus question for the presentation? Uses for understanding everyday life –how did religion influence the practices, beliefs, and interactions of Europeans, natives, and Africans? themes addressed by religious history: –ideas about human nature, equality, freedom, community –interactions between social groups –revival religions

5 Sources and questions for today’s presentation: What do church architecture & worship practices tell us about colonists’ attitudes toward power and hierarchy? How did colonists perceive human nature, and how did these beliefs shape colonists’ attitudes toward outsiders? How did colonists’ religious beliefs shape political, social, and economic institutions?

6 Limitations of today’s discussion: comparison across space (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts) rather than comparison across time. Proportion: danger of overestimating religious beliefs No focus on Native beliefs

7 Four sets of documents A. Church of England (Virginia) B. Puritans (Massachusetts) C. Quakers (Pennsylvania) D. Africans (misc.)

8 Document set 1: Church of England (Virginia) What do church architecture & worship practices tell us about Virginians’ attitudes toward power and hierarchy? How did Virginians perceive human nature, and how did these beliefs shape Virginians’ attitudes toward outsiders? How did Virginians’ religious beliefs shape political, social, and economic institutions?

9 Sketches of typical VA houses in the 18 th c: a wealthy planter’s house, a poor planters house, and a slave cabin What was each building made of? What can you tell about the social status of the resident of each house?

10 Christ Church, Virginia - What is the building made of? - What can you tell about the social status of the members of this church?

11 Interior and pulpit of Christ Church (1735) - Where is the pulpit? Where do members sit? - what does this say about the church members’ beliefs?

12 ideas about hierarchy …And as Almighty GOD hath sent each of us into the World for some or other of these Purposes;--so, from the King, who is his head Servant in a Country, to the poorest Slave, we are all obliged to do the Business he hath set us about, in that State of Life to which he hath been pleased to call us.— And while you, whom he hath made Slaves, are honestly and quietly doing your Business, and living as poor Christians ought to do, you are serving GOD, in your low Station, as much as the greatest Prince alive, and will be as much Favour shewn you at the last Day…Almighty GOD hath been pleased to make you Slaves here, and to give you nothing but Labour and Poverty in this World, which you are obliged to submit to, as it is his Will it should be so…If therefore, you would be GOD’S Free men in Heaven, you must strive to be good, and serve him here on Earth. - Thomas Bacon, an Anglican minister at St. Paul’s Parish (MD), –What is the responsibility of slaves, according to Bacon? What is their reward for fulfilling these responsibilities? Source: Religion in American History: A Reader, edited by Jon Butler and Harry S. Stout

13 Religion in Virginia after the First Great Awakening: South Quay Baptist Church 1775 (left) and Mt. Shiloh Baptist - looking at the architecture and layout, how might these churches differ in beliefs from the Anglican Church?

14 Document set 2: Puritans (Massachusetts) Here are questions we should consider as we examine these documents: What do church architecture & worship practices tell us about Puritans’ attitudes toward power and hierarchy? How did Puritans perceive human nature, and how did these beliefs shape Puritans’ attitudes toward outsiders? How did Puritans’ religious beliefs shape political, social, and economic institutions?

15 Map of New Haven, 1641

16 Exterior of Hingham (MA) Meetinghouse, built What does the architecture tell us about Puritans’ lives & their attitudes toward power?

17 Interior of Hingham Meetinghouse

18 John Beal House, Hingham (built circa 1690) (LOC)

19 Puritan attitudes about hierarchy Seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony - what does the image depict?

20 John Winthrop, "A Model of Christian Charity" (1630), given aboard the Arabella Thus stands the cause betweene God and us. We are entered into Covenant with Him for this worke. Wee haue taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to drawe our own articles…For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are uppon us. Soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our God in this worke wee haue undertaken, and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. Wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of God, and all professors for God's sake. What is Winthrop saying about the Puritans' mission in New England? What is the goal of the Massachusetts Bay colony?

21 Excerpts from the NE Primer - How did Puritans perceive human nature, and how did these beliefs shape Puritans’ attitudes toward outsiders? New England Primer, 1646 edition Q. How did God make you? A. In my first Parents Holy and Righteous. Q. Are you then born Holy and Righteous? A. No, my first father sinned and I in him? Q. Are you then born a sinner? A. I was conceived in Sin & born in Iniquity. Q. What is your birth sin? A. Adam's sin imputed to me, and a corrupt nature dwelling in me. Q. What is your corrupt nature ? A. My corrupt nature is empty of grace, bent unto sin, only unto sin, and that continually.

22 Puritans and human nature: punishment

23 Document set 3: Quakers (Pennsylvania) What do church architecture & worship practices tell us about Quakers’ attitudes toward power and hierarchy? How did Quakers perceive human nature, and how did these beliefs shape Quakers’ attitudes toward outsiders? How did Quakers’ religious beliefs shape political, social, and economic institutions?

24 Quaker Meetinghouse, Chester County, PA, What does the architecture tell us about Puritans’ lives & their attitudes toward power?

25 Quaker Meeting What do the layout & worship practices tell us about Quakers’ attitudes toward power and hierarchy?

26 Quakers & human nature - How did Quakers perceive human nature? - How might their attitude toward human nature shape their dealings with outsiders? George Fox, founder of Quakerism (1640s) …every man was enlightened by the divine light of Christ; and I saw it shine through all, and they that believed in it came out of condemnation and came to the light of life, and became the children of it, but they that hated it, and did not believe in it, were condemned by it, though they made a profession of Christ… …Now was I come up on spirit through the flaming sword into the paradise of God…All things were new, and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness, being renewed up to the state of Adam which he was in before he fell…And the Lord showed me that such as were faithful to him in the power and light of Christ, should come up into that state in which Adam was before he fell.” Source: Thomas D. Hamm, The Quakers in America (2003), pp.15-6

27 Hierarchy & dealings with non-Quakers William Penn, The Frame of the Government of the Province of Pennsylvania (1682) [all] "who confess and acknowledge the One Almighty and eternal God to be the Creator, Upholder, and Ruler of the World, and that hold themselves obliged in conscience to live peaceably and justly in Civil Society, shall in no wayes be molested or prejudiced for their Religious Perswasion or Practice in matters of Faith and Worship, nor shall they be compelled at any time to frequent or maintain any Religious Worship, Place or Ministry whatever."

28 Quakers and Native Americans Benjamin West, Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, (90 years after treaty)

29 Edward Hicks (Quaker) The Peaceable Kingdom (c1833, 150 years after treaty)

30 Quakers and slavery The Germantown Protest (1688) …These are the reasons why we are against the traffik of men-body, as followeth. Is there any that would be done or handled at this manner? viz., to be sold or made a slave for all the time of his life? How fearful and faint- hearted are many on sea when they see a strange vessel... [R]ather is it worse for them which say they are Christians, for we hear that ye most part of such negers are brought hitherto against their will and consent and that many of them are stolen. Now tho they are black we cannot conceive there is more liberty to have them slaves, as it is to have other white ones. There is a saying that we shall doe to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or colour they are. And those who steal or rob men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not alike? Here is liberty of conscience wch is right and reasonable; here ought to be likewise liberty of ye body, except of evil-doers, wch is an other case. But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against… What arguments are made against slavery? source: Gilder Lehrman Center,

31 Quakers, Native Americans, and Africans Minute adopted in the monthly meeting for First Month, 1700: Our dear Friend and governor, having laid before this meeting a concern that hath lain upon his mind for some time concerning the negroes and Indians that Friends ought to be very careful in discharging good conscience towards them in all respects, but more especially for the good of their souls; and that they might, as frequent as may be, come to meetings upon First-days, upon consideration whereof this meeting concludes to appoint a meeting for the negroes, to be kept once a month, etc., and that their masters give notice thereof in their own Families, and be present with them at the said meetings as frequent as may be. Source: Henry Cadbury, “Negro Membership in the Society of Friends,” Journal of Negro History (1936)

32 Quakers and slavery diary of John Woolman, an abolitionist Quaker (1757) After some further conversation I said, that men having power too often misapplied it; that though we made slaves of the negroes, and the Turks made slaves of the Christians, I believed that liberty was the natural right of all men equally. This he did not deny, but said the lives of the negroes were so wretched in their own country that many of them lived better here than there. I replied, "There is great odds in regard to us on what principle we act"; and so the conversation on that subject ended. I may here add that another person, some time afterwards, mentioned the wretchedness of the negroes, occasioned by their intestine wars, as an argument in favour of our fetching them away for slaves. To which I replied, if compassion for the Africans, on account of their domestic troubles, was the real motive of our purchasing them, that spirit of tenderness being attended to, would incite us to use them kindly, that, as strangers brought out of affliction, their lives might be happy among us. And as they are human creatures, whose souls are as precious as ours, and who may receive the same help and comfort from the Holy Scriptures as we do, we could not omit suitable endeavours to instruct them therein; but that while we manifest by our conduct that our views in purchasing them are to advance ourselves, and while our buying captives taken in war animates those parties to push on the war and increase desolation amongst them, to say they live unhappily in Africa is far from being an argument in our favour. What is John Woolman's view of slavery? How did he try to convince his friends that slavery was wrong? What arguments did he make, according to his diary? source:

33 Document set 4: Religious practices among slaves What do the setting & worship practices tell us about slaves’ attitudes toward power and hierarchy?

34 African worship practices Muslims at Prayer, Senegal, 1780s source: The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record, UVA Library. Image ID: VILE-102.

35 slave worship practices: Yoruba culture (SC)

36 Slave baptism by Moravians, West Indies (1757) Source: /SlaveTrade/collection/large/NW0174a.JPG

37 Slave funeral, Jamaica(1843) by James Phillippo Source:

38 Slave worship practices music: “O Day,” a spiritual performed by Sea Island Singers & Bessie Jones Description of slave religious service during the Civil War by Henry George Spaulding, a white Unitarian minister (from the North) in Port Royal, South Carolina. Three or four, standing still, clapping their hands and beating time with their feet, commence singing in unison one of the peculiar shout melodies, while the others walk around in a ring, in single file, joining also in song. Soon those in the ring leave off their singing, the others keeping it up the while with increased vigor, and strike into the shout step, observing most accurate time with the music….They will often dance to the same song for twenty or thirty minutes. How might this service differ from those of white colonists? Is there a minister for this service? What traditions other than Christianity might the slaves be drawing upon? source: Eugene Genovese, Roll Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made

39 Primary Sources on the web: Divining America: Religion and the Founding of the American Republic: African American Odyssey:


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