Dividing the Faith: The Rise of Racially Segregated Northern Churches, 1730-1850 Open Access
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This dissertation uses the study of interracial church worship to argue that the American North experienced a high level of racial integration in the early to mid-eighteenth century and became more racially segregated following the Revolution. Churches, as both religious and social institutions, were on the frontlines of this change. This work argues that most northern Protestants experienced formal religion in interracial contexts between 1730 and 1820, but it is also attentive to differences among denominations and to change over time. It argues that scholars should have a complex view of the religious agency of oppressed peoples because significant numbers of blacks and American Indians chose to participate not only in the evangelical and revivalist denominations but also in the more hierarchical and traditional forms of Christianity. By scrutinizing the similar and dissimilar experiences of African Americans and Indians in the North, this dissertation also contributes to the growing historiography on the construction of racial identities and helps to fill the need in the American historiography to "triangulate" racial dynamics during the colonial and early national eras.