On Writing the History of the American Bible Society–Update #88

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I am still doing secondary reading for Chapter Five.  Today I spent a couple of hours with Paul Boyer’s Urban Masses and Moral Order in America and Curtis Johnson’s Redeeming America: Evangelicals and the Road to the Civil War.

Boyer reminded me that the Board of Managers of the ABS in the early nineteenth century were some were the wealthiest men in the United States.  Johnson reminded me that a combination of the Board’s wealth and its Calvinism led frontier settlers to reject its mission.  Elias Boudinot modeled the ABS on the First Bank of the United States so it is not surprising that he received resistance from common evangelicals–mostly Baptists–on the frontier who sensed a cabal of wealthy Calvinists who wanted to use their wealth and theology to create a Christian nation

After completing my reading today I was also reminded that writing history requires constant engagement with secondary sources.  We may come up with a great idea for a book or article, and spend months pondering such an idea, but the idea is only developed and refined in conversation with others, namely the historians who have thought about the same things we are thinking about.  So stop thinking about your project and get to work!