Burned-over District: Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-50 (Torchbooks)

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9780061312427: Burned-over District: Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-50 (Torchbooks)

"Burned-over District was a name applied to a small region, during a limited period of history, to indicate a particular phase of development. It described the religious character of western New York during the first half of the nineteenth century. Time, subject, and area have thus all combined to confine the scope of this book. The study has nevertheless seemed rewarding, mainly because its implications transcend all three limitations.

“The meaning expands in a geographical sense because this one area provides a case history in the westward transit of New England culture. Likewise, it is representative as a sample of the change from youth to maturity in a single section affected by continuing westward movement. The subject of religion has broader significance in this period and locality than might at first appear. This section was the storm center, and religious forces were the driving propellants of social movements important for the whole country in that generation. As far as time goes, this book is an illustration of the way in which the minds of one era help to form the destinies of succeeding generations. Neither the causes of the Civil War nor the origins of national prohibition, to cite only two prominent examples, can be thoroughly understood without reference to the Burned-over District."―from the Preface

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About the Author:

Whitney R. Cross (1913–1955) was born in Rochester, New York. He received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1945. Cross served as the first head of the Local and Regional History Collection at Cornell University and held teaching positions at Connecticut College, Smith College, and West Virginia University.


"The remarkable flowering of spiritual activity in the 'burned-over district' has long puzzled historians; but until this book never received full-length treatment. Cross roamed the archives and manuscript repositories of western New York; he went through the files of obscure country newspapers and forgotten religious magazines; and the result of his patient and exact research is a major contribution to American social and intellectual history. He has drawn the social background of the burned-over district in rich detail and amplitude. Moving out of this background, he can bring revivalism, Mormonism, and the other new sects into fresh and enlightening perspective. His comments on Joseph Smith, on Mormonism and the frontier, on the development of Finney's theology, on the entry of Swedenborgianism as a catch-all for the ultraist faiths, and on the vagaries of spiritualism are the product of sharp insight and steady judgment. . . . Cross has written an indispensable chapter in our intellectual history."―Arthur Schlesinger Jr., The Nation

"The title of this volume would lead the reader to believe that only a microcosmic study of nineteenth-century religion in upper New York had been covered. However, it soon becomes evident that the scope of the book is much wider. It is an intensive study of the social, cultural, economic, political, and ideological causations of the great religious upheavals of the time and their far-reaching effects upon American culture."―Pennsylvania History

"This tour through the psychological highways and byways of enthusiastic religion is richly rewarding."―Mississippi Valley Historical Review

"This is an excellent piece of social historical writing."―American Journal of Sociology

"Cross has given us by far our best record of a famous chapter in the history of American religion."―Church History

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Cross, Whitney R.
Published by Joanna Cotler Books (1966)
ISBN 10: 0061312428 ISBN 13: 9780061312427
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)

Book Description Joanna Cotler Books, 1966. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110061312428

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