America's Missions: The Home Missions Movement and the Story of the Early Republic
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This dissertation seeks to enhance our understanding of the early American republic by providing a study of the home missions movement from 1787 to 1845. The home missions movement was a nationwide, multi-denominational religious movement, led by mission societies, and aimed at bringing the Protestant gospel to the various peoples of the states and territories. A history of this movement not only fills a gap in the historiography of early American religious history, but also enlightens our understanding of the broader socio-political world of the early republic. The founding years of the home missions movement, from 1787 to 1815, were led by Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and Baptists. Despite interdenominational competition at home and diplomatic tension with Britain, Protestants tended to cooperate both interdenominationally and transatlantically in order to achieve broader, evangelical goals in their missions. Home missions societies also shed light on a third form of cooperation: cooperation between church and state. We can better understand the relationship between church and state in the early republic by rejecting the idea that these two entities functioned separately. Instead, they functioned within a complex system of cooperation, evidenced by consistent government subsidization of and participation in missions to both white settlers and Indians, as well as by a broad culture of cooperation with Protestant projects in American society. During the early antebellum period, the home missions movement underwent a significant transformation, from functioning as a nationwide group of loosely-affiliated societies, which focused on nearby peoples, to a highly-centralized affair, dominated by a handful of national mission societies, which focused on the salvation of the entire nation. The growing importance of the population of the Mississippi Valley and the national trend toward a more centralized government and economic system played the two key roles in this transformation. This centralization - religious, economic, and political - helped give rise to the antimission movement, a nationwide Protestant protest against mission societies. This movement sheds light on the religious and ideological underpinnings of antebellum sectionalism.
Church and State
Franklin, Brian 1983- (2012). America's Missions: The Home Missions Movement and the Story of the Early Republic. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from