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Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Topic: Predicaments of Early Republican LifeTopic: ReligionTopic: PoliticsTopic: ExpansionTopic: Equality
Topic: Religion
Overview of Living the Revolution
Resource Menu: Religion
Text 1. Online Exhibition
Text 2. Jefferson/Madison
Text 3. Adams/Jefferson
Text 4. American Bible Society
Text 5. Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church
» Reading Guide
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Text 6. Rev. Peter Cartwright
Text 7. Richard Allen
Text 8. Background
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Reading Guide
5.  Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church, Kentucky; Minutes, 1800-1817, excerpts    Forks of Elkhorn Babtish Church

If church secretaries knew how illuminating their minutes would be for later historians! For there is perhaps no better introduction to frontier religion than these excerpts spanning seventeen years of an evangelical Baptist church in Kentucky. Within these four pages you will read of disputes over slavery, doctrinal self-questioning, rapid in- and out-migration of members, exclusion of members for immoral conduct, attitudes toward African American members, interdenominational rivalry, and the mundane matters of a growing church. From land disputes to crises of conscience to the housekeeper's pay, these minutes reveal a frontier community "living the revolution." That this church serves as the center of the community is apparent in ways that few 21st-century churchgoers experience. Would fascinate students. 4 pages.

Discussion questions
  ·  How is this church community a microcosm of young America creating itself?
  ·  How does the frontier church serve secular as well as religious functions?
  ·  How does the church reflect the aspects of religion that Adams and Jefferson revere?
  ·  What aspects of frontier life are missing from these minutes? Why might this be?

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Topic Framing Questions
  •  How was religious freedom defined in the new republic?
  •  How did rationalists and evangelicals differ on the place of religion in a republic? How did they agree?
  •  How did diverse religious communities contribute to a shared national identity?
  •  How could church-state separation co-exist with the conviction that religion is critical to a nation's strength?

Toolbox: Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Predicaments | Religion | Politics | Expansion | Equality

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