The Faiths of the Founding Fathers (Google eBook)

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Oxford University Press, USA, Mar 8, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 240 pages
73 Reviews
It is not uncommon to hear Christians argue that America was founded as a Christian nation. But how true is this claim? In this compact book, David L. Holmes offers a clear, concise and illuminating look at the spiritual beliefs of our founding fathers. He begins with an informative account of the religious culture of the late colonial era, surveying the religious groups in each colony. In particular, he sheds light on the various forms of Deism that flourished in America, highlighting the profound influence this intellectual movement had on the founding generation. Holmes then examines the individual beliefs of a variety of men and women who loom large in our national history. He finds that some, like Martha Washington, Samuel Adams, John Jay, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson's daughters, held orthodox Christian views. But many of the most influential figures, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John and Abigail Adams, Jefferson, James and Dolley Madison, and James Monroe, were believers of a different stripe. Respectful of Christianity, they admired the ethics of Jesus, and believed that religion could play a beneficial role in society. But they tended to deny the divinity of Christ, and a few seem to have been agnostic about the very existence of God. Although the founding fathers were religious men, Holmes shows that it was a faith quite unlike the Christianity of today's evangelicals. Holmes concludes by examining the role of religion in the lives of the presidents since World War II and by reflecting on the evangelical resurgence that helped fuel the reelection of George W. Bush. An intriguing look at a neglected aspect of our history, the book will appeal to American history buffs as well as to anyone concerned about the role of religion in American culture.
  

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Review: The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

User Review  - Dancingfoolvb - Goodreads

A nice little intro to the religious concerns and perspectives of the Founders by one of my undergraduate professors. Read full review

Review: The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

User Review  - Goodreads

A nice little intro to the religious concerns and perspectives of the Founders by one of my undergraduate professors. Read full review

Contents

Religion in the American Colonies in 1770
xiv
The Sects
2
Tolerant Pennsylvania
4
The Mainline Churches
7
Religion in New England
8
Religion in the Middle Colonies
14
Religion in the Southern Colonies
17
The Rise of the Evangelical Tradition in America
24
Martha Custis Washington
111
Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis
114
Abigail Smith Adams
116
Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson
120
Martha Jefferson Randolph and Maria Jefferson Eppes
121
Dolley Payne Madison
124
A Laypersons Guide to Distinguishing a Deist from an Orthodox Christian
132
Three Orthodox Christians
142

The Anglican Tradition and the Virginia Founding Fathers
32
The Enlightenment Religion of Deism
38
The Founding Fathers and Deism
48
The Religious Views of Benjamin Franklin
52
The Religious Views of George Washington
58
The Religious Views of John Adams
72
The Religious Views of Thomas Jefferson
78
The Religious Views of James Madison
90
The Religious Views of James Monroe
98
The Wives and Daughters of the Founding Fathers
108
Elias Boudinot
149
John Jay
153
The Past Is a Foreign Country
160
Epilogue
164
Notes
186
Bibliography
202
Illustration Credits
210
Index
214
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

David L. Holmes is Walter G. Mason Professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary. He is the author of A Brief History of the Episcopal Church, A Nation Mourns, other books, and numerous articles.

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