Cover for Kissel: America’s Religious Crossroads: Faith and Community in the Emerging Midwest. Click for larger image

America’s Religious Crossroads

Faith and Community in the Emerging Midwest

Religion's influence on the Old Northwest

Between 1790 and 1850, waves of Anglo-Americans, African Americans, and European immigrants flooded the Old Northwest (modern-day Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin). They brought with them a mosaic of Christian religious belief. Stephen T. Kissel draws on a wealth of primary sources to examine the foundational role that organized religion played in shaping the social, cultural, and civic infrastructure of the region. As he shows, believers from both traditional denominations and religious utopian societies found fertile ground for religious unity and fervor. Able to influence settlement from the earliest days, organized religion integrated faith into local townscapes and civic identity while facilitating many of the Old Northwest's earliest advances in literacy, charitable public outreach, formal education, and social reform. Kissel also unearths fascinating stories of how faith influenced the bonds, networks, and relationships that allowed isolated western settlements to grow and evolve a distinct regional identity.

Perceptive and broad in scope, America’s Religious Crossroads illuminates the integral relationship between communal and spiritual growth in early Midwestern history.

"An important work. Kissel demonstrates the commonalities in the processes of community organization--domestic devotion, church-building, schooling, discipline, and civic engagement--shared across the religious faiths in the first generation of Euro-American settlement of the Old Northwest."--Kyle Roberts, author of Evangelical Gotham: Religion and the Making of New York City, 1783-1860


Stephen T. Kissel is an assistant professor of history at Oakland City (Indiana) University.

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