The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America
Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz brilliantly recapture the forgotten story of Matthias the Prophet, imbuing their richly researched account with the dramatic force of a novel. In the hands of Johnson and Wilentz, the strange tale of Matthias opens a fascinating window into the turbulent movements of the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening--movements that swept up great numbers of evangelical Americans and gave rise to new sects like the Mormons. Into this teeming environment walked a down-and-out carpenter named Robert Matthews, who announced himself as Matthias, prophet of the God of the Jews. His hypnotic personality drew in a cast of unforgettable characters--the meekly devout businessman Elijah Pierson, who once tried to raise his late wife from the dead; the young attractive Christian couple, Benjamin Folger and his wife Ann (who seduced the woman-hating Prophet); and the shrewd ex-slave Isabella Van Wagenen, regarded by some as "the most wicked of the wicked." None was more colorful than the Prophet himself, a bearded, thundering tyrant who gathered his followers into an absolutist household, using their money to buy an elaborate, eccentric wardrobe, and reordering their marital relations. By the time the tensions within the kingdom exploded into a clash with the law, Matthias had become a national scandal.
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Albany American Ann and Benjamin Ann Folger AntiBurghers Arthur Tappan beard began Benjamin and Ann Benjamin Folger Bowery Hill Catherine Galloway Charles Finney Christ Christian city’s Coila congregation County daughter devils early Elijah Pierson evangelical Fanaticism father female Finney Finneyite Frances Folger friends Gilbert Vale God’s History Holy household husband Ibid Isabella Laisdell Isabella Van Wagenen Jacksonian James Jesus John McDowall Joseph Smith Kingdom of Matthias Kirk Kirk’s later lived Lord Manhattan Margaret Matthews market revolution marriage match spirit Mathies Matthews’s Matthias Matthias’s Methodist middleclass minister mission missionaries Mormon Morristown Mount Zion newspaper NewYork Noah patriarchal Pearl Street perfectionist prayed prayer preached Presbyterian Church Prophet Matthias prostitutes quotation reformers religion religious reports returned Reverend revival Robert Matthews Sarah Scots sermons sexual Sing Sing social Society Sojourner Truth story Sylvester Mills talk Tappan told Westchester Western wife William Leete William Leete Stone women York City York’s