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Cosmos crumbling : American reform and the religious imagination

Author: Robert H Abzug
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 1994.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
In the forty years before the Civil War, America rang with the cry of reform. Abolitionists stormed against the cruelties of slavery. Temperance zealots hounded producers and consumers of strong drink. Sabbatarians fought to make Sunday an officially recognized sacred day. Women's rights activists proclaimed the case for sexual equality. Others offered programs of physiological and spiritual self-reform: phrenology,  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Church history
History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Abzug, Robert H.
Cosmos crumbling.
New York : Oxford University Press, 1994
(OCoLC)622664927
Material Type: Biography, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Robert H Abzug
ISBN: 0195037529 9780195037524 0195045688 9780195045680
OCLC Number: 28212465
Description: ix, 285 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: Prologue: Ultraists, Seekers, and the Soldiery of Dissent --
pt. 1. Foundations of the Reform Cosmology. I. Benjamin Rush and Revolutionary Christian Reform. II. Lyman Beecher and the Cosmic Theater. III. War in the West: The Radical Revival --
pt. 2. Evangelical Reform. IV. The Temperance Reformation. V. Sabbatarianism and Manual Labor --
pt. 3. Radical Transformation. VI. William Lloyd Garrison and the Birth of Abolitionism. VII. The Body Reforms. VIII. The Woman Question. IX. Woman's Rights and Schism.
Other Titles: American reform and the religious imagination.
Responsibility: Robert H. Abzug.
More information:

Abstract:

In the forty years before the Civil War, America rang with the cry of reform. Abolitionists stormed against the cruelties of slavery. Temperance zealots hounded producers and consumers of strong drink. Sabbatarians fought to make Sunday an officially recognized sacred day. Women's rights activists proclaimed the case for sexual equality. Others offered programs of physiological and spiritual self-reform: phrenology, vegetarianism, the water-cure, spiritualism, and miscellaneous others. "Even the insect world was to be defended," Emerson mused, "and a society for the protection of ground-worms, slugs, and mosquitoes was to be incorporated without delay." Cosmos Crumbling brilliantly reassesses the religious roots of these antebellum reform movements through a series of penetrating profiles of key men and women who sought to remake their worlds in sacred terms. Filled with vivid anecdotes and penetrating analysis, the book presents a genealogy of reform cosmology that begins with the American Revolution and ends with "the woman question," the issue that drove a wedge between traditional evangelical reformers and the more radical reformers who questioned the very foundations of the conventional Christian cosmos. Here is the story of Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush and his lifelong odyssey to bring together his unorthodox Christian ideals and his revolutionary republicanism. Other portraits highlight the guiding role of religion in the careers of the tireless abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, the evangelical minister Lyman Beecher and his daughter, influential educational reformer Catharine Beecher, as well as of Angelina and Sarah Crimke, and Lydia Maria Child, fearless women who made enormous strides in reimagining the spiritual and moral power of women and their place in society. There is also an intriguing chapter on leaders of the body reforms, including phrenologist Orson Squire Fowler, who began his career reading the heads of his fellow students at Amherst College for small change, and William Andrus Alcott, who advocated a bland vegetarian diet, cold water bathing, and a profusion of daily rituals to guide his followers through their every waking moment. Arguing that we cannot understand American reform movements unless we understand the sacred significance reformers bestowed on the worldly arenas of politics, society, and the economy, Abzug presents these men and women in their own words, placing their cherished ideals and their often heated squabbles within the context of their millennial and sometimes apocalyptic sense of America's role in the cosmic drama. Tracing the lasting impact of what began as a peculiarly Protestant, largely New England, style of social action on the uniquely American traditions of activism that flourish today, Cosmos Crumbling is a signal contribution to our understanding of the myriad ways in which the quest for enlightenment and salvation continues to shape American politics.

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A fascinating read and a wonderful window on an important phenomenon. Daniel P. Murphy, Hanover College [A]ll students of American culture in the nineteenth century...will now rely on Cosmos Read more...

 
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