Skepticism and American Faith: From the Revolution to the Civil War


ACLS Fellowship Program




The American dialogue about religious skepticism and faith was crucial to the development of American culture between the American Revolution and the Civil War. It shaped and was shaped by struggles over the place of religion in politics in the Revolutionary era; by different visions of knowledge and education in an “enlightened” society; by reformers’ reconsiderations of the relation of the individual to society in an era of economic transformation, territorial expansion, and social change; and by the making and eventual unmaking of nationalisms in the United States. Although the standard historical narratives stress the dominance of evangelicalism in the period, the debate between skepticism and faith affected more lives than might be expected.