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Catholicism and the Shaping of Nineteenth-Century America

Catholicism and the Shaping of Nineteenth-Century America

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S. Deborah Kang, Jon Gjerde
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  • Date Published: February 2012
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781139200486

$ 20.00 USD ( )
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About the Authors
  • Catholicism and the Shaping of Nineteenth-Century America offers a series of fresh perspectives on one of the most familiar themes – the nation's encounter with Catholicism – in nineteenth-century American history. While religious and immigration historians have construed this history in univocal terms, Jon Gjerde bridges sectarian divides by presenting Protestants and Catholics in conversation with each other. In so doing, Gjerde reveals the ways in which America's encounter with Catholicism was much more than a story about American nativism. Nineteenth-century religious debates raised questions about the fundamental underpinnings of the American state and society: the shape of the antebellum market economy, the transformation of gender roles in the American family, and the place of slavery in an ostensibly democratic polity were only a few of the issues engaged by Protestants and Catholics in a lively and enduring dialectic. While the question of the place of Catholics in America was left unresolved, the very debates surrounding this question generated multiple conceptions of American pluralism and American national identity.

    • Offers the first comparative treatment of Protestants and Catholics in the nineteenth century
    • Draws upon political, religious and literary sources to describe Protestant and Catholic views on a wide range of issues, including the nineteenth-century relationship between church and state, the economy, the West, slavery and the family
    • Explains why religion has constituted and continues to constitute a major dividing line in America
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Jon Gjerde's Catholicism and the Shaping of Nineteenth-Century America is a perfectly titled book about how bumptious dialogues among America's variegated Catholics and their frequent, mostly Protestant critics became a major component in creating the modern American nation. The genius of Gjerde's approach is to set American anti-Catholicism within a far broader context of complex, interweaving dialogues about the kind of society America could and should become, especially in economics, church-state relations, and women's and men's roles, plus the deep arguments about slavery. Few histories have been both so American and so Catholic as is [this book]. [It] is a luminous testament to Jon Gjerde's achievements as a historian and scholar."
    Jon Butler, Yale University

    "This book expands our understanding the motives of both Catholics and those Protestants who were hostile to Catholics. It demonstrates that the mid-nineteenth-century quarrel over Catholicism's place in the constitutional and cultural order of the United States deeply influenced the theory and practice of nationhood well into the twentieth century."
    David A. Hollinger, University of California, Berkeley

    "A shrewd, thoughtful examination of how religious diversity - notably Catholic immigration to the United States in the nineteenth century - prompted fundamental, often still unresolved questions about the character of religious freedom and American nationalism."
    John T. McGreevy, I. A. O'Shaughnessy Dean, College of Arts and Letters, University of Notre Dame

    "… the capstone of the remarkable career of a gifted historian."
    Robert Emmett Curran, The Journal of American History

    "… a nuanced examination of how Catholic and Protestant leaders' disagreements over a range of issues shaped antebellum society and how the lack of victory by either side shaped national identity long afterward."
    John Dichtl, Indiana Magazine of History

    "… a thoughtful reconsideration of the mutually constitutive relationship between Christian and national identities in the antebellum United States."
    Elizabeth Fenton, American Catholic Studies

    "Gjerde's final book stands as a fine achievement that enhances our understanding of a critical juncture in the history of American pluralism and religious freedom."
    Timothy D. Grundmeier, Journal of Church and State


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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2012
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139200486
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Editor's preface S. Deborah Kang
    2. Introduction Jon Gjerde
    3. The Protestant conundrum Jon Gjerde
    The Catholic conundrum Jon Gjerde
    4. Conversion and the West Jon Gjerde
    5. Schools and the state Jon Gjerde
    6. Protestant and Catholic critiques of family and women Jon Gjerde
    7. The American economy and social justice Jon Gjerde
    8. Epilogue S. Deborah Kang.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Catholics in America
    • Faith Justice & Catholic Tradition
    • History of Religion in the US
    • Survey of U.S. History, 1600 - 1877
    • U.S. Religion since 1860
  • Author

    Jon Gjerde, University of California, Berkeley
    Jon Gjerde (February 25, 1953–October 26, 2008) was an American historian and the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, he also served as chair of the History Department and Dean of the Division of Social Sciences in the College of Letters and Science. He is the author of the award-winning From Peasants to Farmers: The Migration from Balestrand, Norway, to the Upper Middle West and The Minds of the West: Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830–1917.


    S. Deborah Kang, University of California, Berkeley
    S. Deborah Kang is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a specialist in the areas of American legal, western and immigration history and the author of The Legal Construction of the Borderlands: The INS, Immigration Law, and Immigrant Rights on the U.S.-Mexico Border, which will be published in 2012.


    S. Deborah Kang, Jon Gjerde

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