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Assess the influence of Protestant religion (ideas and practices) on the origins, aims, and outcome of the American Revolution.

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Introduction

Assess the influence of Protestant religion (ideas and practices) on the origins, aims, and outcome of the American Revolution The origins, aims and course of the American Revolution were influenced by a number of factors. The causes of the American Revolution have been put down to economic, social and political factors, which have then continued to influence the course and finally the outcome of America's conflict with Britain. Economic factors concerning trade and slavery have been put down to being part of the cause of the American Revolution. Yet historians have often debated the influence that Protestantism had on the revolution. The majority of the population of the colonies were Puritan but there were various diverse angles of religion. The two largest churches were the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists, but the colonies were also made up of many other faiths such as Anglicans, Baptists or pacifist groups such as Quakers. Religion was a very important part of colonial life and the colonists were much more concerned with religious aspects than political controversy. Yet although religion played a major part of the colonists' lives, it actual affect on the American Revolution itself is debatable: "Religion was present in the revolution, considered in a restricted framework; it was thoroughly engaged by it and multi-faceted. It is difficult to make the case, however, that religious ingredients - even broadly defined- played a definitive or even markedly innovative role."1 John F. ...read more.

Middle

The fact Thomas Paine uses religious arguments in his pamphlet shows what an affect it had on the colonists. Many sermons were focused upon rallying the people against Britain. The Protestant church was an establishment which affected everyone; all classes in all parts of the colonies. Therefore spreading political messages through sermons in church etc meant that the revolutionary message reached and incensed more people. Robert Gross in "The Minutemen and their World," puts much emphasis on the religious concerns of ordinary people in Concord, indicating the extent to which people would listen to their ministers. All classes were involved one way or another with the church and the fact that political sermons were oral rather than written down meant that revolutionary ideas were more accessible. Women also gathered much of their political motivation from the church: "Religion and religious organisations also served as the natural route for mobilising the political opinions and activities of women... Groups of women dressed in homespun met at the home of their local minister." 7 This reiterates the notion that Protestantism was a widespread institution that made it possible for everyone to become involved in politics. It is a fair point that the Protestant religion was responsible for conveying political initiatives along with religious preaching and had a large affect on the people's involvement with the revolution. As well as helping people morally sanction the revolution, the Protestant faith also strengthen millennialist values in colonial America. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some even took up arms, leading Continental troops into battle."13 High ranking members of the church must not be discounted as vital components of the revolution and its victory. In conclusion, it is fair to say that Protestantism did influence the American Revolution. It was such a substantial part of colonial life that it would be inaccurate to assert that religion had a very little affect on the revolution. Membership of the church was selective and ministers were important and influential members of the society. The basis of the American Revolution and ultimately the Declaration of Independence were first enunciated by doctrines by the New England ministers. J. C. D. Clark dubs the American Revolution as, "the last great war of religion in the western world,"14 playing upon the differences between imperial Anglicanism and the demand for a tolerant heterodoxy. The importance of individual factors will always be contested in events such as the American Revolution; it is clear that Protestantism was important in determining incidents during and in the build up to the revolution. Yet fundamentally it is important not to overrate the affect Protestantism had on America in the eighteenth century. Although religion was entangled with political issues, it was on the other hand a separate component to the greater political occurrences in Britain and America which in due course shaped and instigated the American Revolution. ...read more.

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