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In the years prior to the American Revolution, George Whitefield was the most famous man in the colonies. Thomas Kidd's fascinating new biography explores the extraordinary career of the most influential figure in the first generation of Anglo-American evangelical Christianity, examining his sometimes troubling stands on the pressing issues of the day, both secular and spiritual, and his relationships with such famous contemporaries as Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, and John Wesley. Based on the author's comprehensive studies of Whitefield's original sermons, journals, and letters, this excellent history chronicles the phenomenal rise of the trailblazer of the Great Awakening. Whitefield's leadership role among the new evangelicals of the eighteenth century and his many religious disputes are meticulously covered, as are his major legacies and the permanent marks he left on evangelical Christian faith. It is arguably the most balanced biography to date of a controversial religious leader who, though relatively unknown three hundred years after his birth, was a true giant in his day and remains an important figure in America's history.
Before the Revolutionary War, America was a nation divided by different faiths. But when the war for independence sparked in 1776, colonists united under the banner of religious freedom. Evangelical frontiersmen and Deist intellectuals set aside their differences to defend a belief they shared, the right to worship freely. Inspiring an unlikely but powerful alliance, it was the idea of religious liberty that brought the colonists together in the battle against British tyranny.In God of Liberty, historian Thomas S. Kidd argues that the improbable partnership of evangelicals and Deists saw America through the Revolutionary War, the ratification of the Constitution, and the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800. A thought-provoking reminder of the crucial role religion played in the Revolutionary era, God of Liberty represents both a timely appeal for spiritual diversity and a groundbreaking excavation of how faith powered the American Revolution.
A detailed examination of the First Great Awakening, this volume presents a valuable study of the spiritual movement that profoundly shaped colonial American cultural and religious life. Thomas Kidd's comprehensive introduction relies on recent scholarship to describe three contemporary views of the revivals: those of radicals in favor of them, moderates supporting them, and antirevivalists attacking them. The views and experiences of these participants and critics emerge through nearly 40 documents organized into topical sections. By expanding coverage of the radicals and the ordinary people, including women, African Americans, and Native Americans, who joined the revival movement, Kidd gives students an opportunity to hear a broader collection of voices from colonial American society. The volume also includes illustrations, headnotes to the documents, a chronology of the Great Awakening, a selected bibliography, questions to consider, and an index.
Most Americans know Patrick Henry as a fiery speaker whose pronouncement "Give me liberty or give me death!" rallied American defiance to the British Crown. But Henry's skills as an orator-sharpened in the small towns and courtrooms of colonial Virginia-are only one part of his vast, but largely forgotten, legacy. As historian Thomas S. Kidd shows, Henry cherished a vision of America as a virtuous republic with a clearly circumscribed central government. These ideals brought him into bitter conflict with other Founders and were crystallized in his vociferous opposition to the U.S. Constitution. In Patrick Henry, Kidd pulls back the curtain on one of our most radical, passionate Founders, showing that until we understand Henry himself, we will neglect many of the Revolution's animating values.