Religion in Early America

Timeline created by arupps603
In History
  • Marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas

    Marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas
    The governor of Virginia and native leader Powhatan agree to the marriage of Pocahontas, Powhatan’s daughter, and Englishman John Rolfe. Powhatan received weapons, and Rolfe was afforded the opportunity to clear the woodlands and plant tobacco in Virginia soil. How was marriage a diplomatic strategy for natives and colonists? In what ways was Pocahontas exceptional, and how was her experience typical of other native women who served as intermediaries or consorts/wives to colonists?
  • Signing of the Mayflower Compact

    Signing of the Mayflower Compact
    In 1620, when the Mayflower veered off course and landed in Massachusetts instead of Virginia, the passengers realized they needed to quickly draw up some sort of plan for self-governance in this unexpected land for settlement.Law-abiding, faithful settlers were needed to make the colony peaceful and sustainable. The passengers on the Mayflower constituted of men, women, and children. Is it problematic that the Mayflower Compact covenant only contained the signatures of the men aboard the ship?
  • Pilgrims Arrive in Plymouth

    Pilgrims Arrive in Plymouth
    Disaffected by the rule of James II and the inability of the crown to rid society of the vice and religious impurity, the Puritans, along with speculators and other adventurers, set out to establish a new society in America. They set out to establish a colony in VA, but landed near Cape Cod in MA.
    In what ways did these founders of Plymouth colony establish the foundation for democracy in the British colonies? Religious liberty was one impetus for their immigration, but what else?
  • The First Thanksgiving

    The First Thanksgiving
    The first year in the New World was characterized by malnutrition, disease, and death for New Englanders.A number of natives aided the ill-supplied and ill-prepared Pilgrims, including Squanto. The Thanksgiving feast was organized to celebrate the good fortune of a successful harvest. How does the memory of the First Thanksgiving in American culture reconcile with the real history of the event and its origin? Why does this matter?
  • Massachusetts Bay Colony founded

    Massachusetts Bay Colony founded
    At the time of its founding the Mass. Bay Colony was the largest colony, and was settled by Puritans, people committed to purifying and perfecting the Church in a new land. John Winthrop, first governor of the Mass. Bay Colony, was at the fore of establishing a new society, a new government committed to God and realizing his Church in America.
    What was the process for a colonist to enter the company? Was anyone excluded from membership, and how did this shape the politics and society of the MBC?
  • Founding of Maryland

    Under the grant and protection of King Charles I, Maryland was established as a refuge for Roman Catholics. The first Catholic settlers clashed over religious doctrine and cultural vindications with nearby Puritans. In light of the conflict between Puritans and Catholics in MD, why was religious freedom such a critical part of Maryland's legal and political culture. Explain the roots of anti-Catholicism in America in the mid-seventeenth century.
  • Roger Williams founds Providence, Rhode Island

    The Puritan Roger Williams was originally a Boston resident. He made waves by insisting that it was unethical to take land away from the natives without compensating them. He also advocated for religious tolerance and freedom. His unorthodox views caused him to be banished in 1636 for heresy and sedition. Afterwards he founded Providence, RI and found refuge for his "diverse, new, and dangerous opinions."
    Why was compensating or negotiating with natives for land a controversial idea?
  • Trial of Anne Hutchinson Begins

    Trial of Anne Hutchinson Begins
    Anne Hutchinson, an elite Bostonian, came under scrutiny when she preached that anyone could be sure of their salvation through a personal connection with God, and male elite vehemently disagreed.The Bible was the only way to know God and it must be interpreted through male preachers.Unwilling to confess to charges of blasphemy, Anne & her family were banished. Why might church authority & elite have thought that Anne's gender disallowed her from speaking as an authority on religion?
  • Toleration Act of 1649

    Maryland adopted this law also known as "An Act Concerning Religion" in 1649, providing for the "free exercise of religion" for all Christian followers. With its ratification, it became a crime to denigrate another's religion, not observe the Sabbath, and blaspheme God or another holy figure. This law was nullified from 1654-1661 and from 1692 to the end of the Revolutionary period. Why is this timing significant, and how "tolerant" do you believe this Act was?
  • Pueblo Revolt

    Pueblo Revolt
    In an attempt to Christianize & colonize the Pueblos, the Spanish descended upon the Southwest.Franciscan friars took the attendance of Pueblos at Mass as a sign of interest to convert; natives agreed to add the baby Jesus & the Blessed Mother to their faith, but not to abandon their own.
    1680 was the breaking point; 200 Pueblos attacked the Spanish, murdering priests, and effectively driving the Spanish out of NM.
    What did this mean for Christianity in the New World?
  • William Penn founds Pennsylvania

    William Penn founds Pennsylvania
    Granted a charter from King Charles II, William Penn & the Society of Friends were granted land & refuge from religious persecution between MD and NY.
    William Penn and the Quakers insisted on buying land claims from the natives who lived in areas of PA they were looking to settle. Did the tenets of Quaker faith influence this practice and the relationship between settlers and natives? Why or why not?
  • Glorious Revolution

    Glorious Revolution
    The Glorious Revolution, occurring between 1688 and 1689, effectively saw the overthrow of Catholic ruler King James II by his Protestant daughter Mary and husband William of Orange. The change also signaled a shift in power from the crown to Parliament, initiating a more democratic rule. What tenets of the Declaration of Rights reflected the transition toward a constitutional monarchy in England? How might this change of power affected politics and society in America?
  • Salem Witch Trials Begin

    Salem Witch Trials Begin
    In the 17th century, many people believed in the presence of the supernatural on earth. A group of young girls fell victim to the conspiracies and hysteria surrounding witchcraft in Salem, MA after using mystical means to predict their future spouses and were part of one of many such trials that occurred in Europe and America. The trial led execution of 20 innocent people. Why were women disproportionately accused of witchcraft, and implicated at trials such as this?
  • Smallpox Epidemic of 1721

    Smallpox Epidemic of 1721
    A smallpox epidemic rips through Boston, forcing the community to address the moral and religious implications of inoculation. Did God send disease to warn against sin or immorality, or to signal a society that their morals were in shambles? If inoculation would be effective, would the use of medical interventions interfere with God's Will?
  • "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"

    Preacher Jonathan Edwards delivered a fire-and-brimstone style speech, warning people against eternal damnation and growing secularism. He insisted that God needed to reach and transform the hearts of non-believers or those ignorant of the Word and teachings of God. The only way to salvation, he exclaimed, was to open one's heart to Christ.
    Why is it significant that Edwards' speech was received with raucous and enthusiastic response in both Einfield and Northampton?
  • Charles Chauncey publishes "Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England"

    Charles Chauncey publishes "Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England"
    Chauncey, a minister of Boston for more than sixty years, became one of the leading detractors of George Whitefield and the First Great Awakening. He was convinced that the Awakening was less the work of God stirring enthusiasm in hearts and souls of the faithful and moreso the work of a creative manipulator (Whitefield). Why might Chauncey and others like him have found the work of Whitefield intimidating or dangerous? What was the objective of sermons such a "Seasonable Thoughts?"
  • Junipero Serra founds Catholic Mission in San Diego

    Junipero Serra founds Catholic Mission in San Diego
    Starting in 1769, Serra founded nine missions in present-day California. He was considered an advocate of the native people, even coming under fire from Spain for his challenge to the policy of treatment of native peoples. All the same, he also supported the use of corporeal punishment among natives to enforce order. Juniperro Serra is claimed by the Catholic Church as a champion for missionary work, but could he also have been a champion of natives in America? Why or why not?
  • Quakers establish first Anti-Slavery Society

    Quakers establish first Anti-Slavery Society
    Anthony Benezet, an advocate for equal education for blacks and whites, turned his eye on anti-slavery 1758. His writings attracted international attention for this cause, including the "Some Historical Account of Guinea." How did Benezet's efforts to establish a school for free blacks and an anti-slavery society align with Quaker values?
  • Birth of Jarena Lee, Prominent black female preacher

    Birth of Jarena Lee, Prominent black female preacher
    Defying the earlier denials of prominent Methodist preacher Richard Allen to permit a woman to preach to congregations, Lee insisted that it was not improper for a woman to spread the word of God just as a man does, for Jesus died for men as well as women. Why was it significant for Lee to emerge as a leading black female preacher? How did her experience defy expectations of her gender and her race? Finally, why has her experience fallen into obscurity in public memory?
  • Richard Allen Rises to Be Prominent Black Preacher

    Richard Allen Rises to Be Prominent Black Preacher
    Born a slave, Allen became increasingly involved with religious gatherings and evangelist meetings near and in his master's home. After purchasing his freedom, he traveled to places as far flung as SC, PA, DE, NY, and MD. He would later team up with Absalom Jones to institutionalize black Christian worship and activism. Why was it significant that Allen was given speaking times at visiting parishes that could not conflict with white services? What were his objectives by giving these speeches?
  • Virginia Legislature Passes a Bill that Disestablishes Anglican Church as the Official State Religion

    After a ten-year long struggle, the Church of England was demoted as the official state church of the colony since its founding. Thomas Jefferson capitulated this Bill, advocating for the separation of church and state religious freedom.
    How did this Bill serve as a predecessor for the federal Bill of Rights, which Congress drafted in 1789, limiting Congress' ability to limit freedom of religion?
  • Founding of the Free African Society of Philadelphia

    Founding of the Free African Society of Philadelphia
    Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, prominent Methodist/Episcopalian preachers, founded this first society established by African Americans in the US. The society was designed to help free blacks navigate challenges presented by pervasive racism in the community, helping them to become full members of the church and society. How did this society help to combat racism in churches and institutions in the Philadelphia community? What obstacles might it have faced?
  • Est. of African Baptist Church of Savannah

    Est. of African Baptist Church of Savannah
    In 1773, Reverend Leile made an attempt to establish a black church in the South, but was denied, since officially, blacks could not worship publicly. The congregation was formed by 1775, and the reverend was permitted to preach by 1777. Why do you believe it was necessary for blacks to establish their own church in the South? Also, why did establishing a church, gathering a congregation, and instituting a preacher require incremental steps in this period?
  • Majority of States Approve Ratifying a Bill of Rights

    Majority of States Approve Ratifying a Bill of Rights
    The original Constitution was incredibly utilitarian, only detailing the bare mechanics for how to organize a new government. The Bill of Rights was proposed as an assurance for things such as freedom of the press, and religion.
    Why was it necessary for the Continental Congress to approve a Bill of Rights? Was the First Amendment a codification or a rejection religious influence in American society in the young republic?
  • First Catholic Community of Nuns Established in Maryland

    In the same year that John Carroll was established the first bishop of the US, the Carmelite nuns established the first monastery in North America. The foundation of their faith was grounded in religious toleration and mutual respect. The nuns first settled in Port Tobacco. Why did they decide to settle in Baltimore?
    Why was Maryland a likely place for a Catholic community of nuns to take hold?
  • John Carroll named Bishop of the Diocese of Baltimore

    John Carroll named Bishop of the Diocese of Baltimore
    On this day in 1790, Carroll became the first Catholic bishop in the United States. Carroll's rise to prominence preceded his appointment in the Church, however. He was an asset to the Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War and advocated for the Patriots in Canada. He garnered favor with Benjamin Franklin, who helped convince the Vatican to name Carroll leader of the seat of the American Catholic Church. How did the appointment of Carroll start to make Catholic inroads in the US?
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    Jesuit Missions in North America

    Starting in the 1610s, Jesuits sent out missionaries to New France in order to learn the native tongues, and begin establishing connections with the Montagnais, Algonquins, and Hurons. The French achieved economic and religious advantage by incentivizing conversion: Christianized Indians fetched higher prices than unconverted counterparts. Why was it important to convert Indians to Christianity? How would it be possible for this to assist in the Counter-Reformation started in Europe?
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    Smallpox Epidemics of 1630s

    Between 1634 and 1640, a smallpox epidemic ravaged the Northeast, killing tens of thousands of Hurons and Iroquois. The terror that death and sickness unleashed upon the natives pushed many towards conversion (Huron), and enabled less-affected tribes to wage war in order to obtain arms and captives to fortify their standing in the arms trade and bolster their protection (Iroquois). In what ways did this epidemic precipitate the Beaver Wars?
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    Antinomian Controversy

    This controversy was initiated in part by the rogue teachings and preachings of Anne Hutchinson, who rejected the works of "justified saints" or those who received contract with God to be granted salvation.Faith alone, and the purity of one's heart and soul, should be the foundation of this contract with God. The established clergy feared "Antinomianism" or a decline of moral law. Why was John Winthrop and the other leadership intent on disarming Hutchinson and her hold on the congregation?
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    First Great Awakening

    In the early-mid 18th century, revivals were central to the theatrics of the Awakening.Extemporaneous speeches and readings could make the audience cry or exclaim with emotion, outward expressions of an inner transformation. Men and women, free and bonded peoples, young and old, gathered together to receive God's word and promise of salvation with enthusiasm.
    What effect did the Awakening have on American society? What made American society so ripe for revivals and evangelicalism?
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    George Whitefield's first Tour of the American Colonies

    Whitefield, a radical but popular preacher in England, brought a message to the Americas: one could reclaim inner purity by immersing oneself in evangelical experience. His inspiration caught fire in PA, NJ, MD, SC, and VA.Although humans were born sinful, they could be made anew by a transformative experience: an Awakening. How might Whitefield's message of rebirth, individualism, and personal connection with God have challenged patriarchal and clerical authority?
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    Rise of the Establishment of Black Churches

    Finally able to be ordained by their respective religious sects (Baptist, Methodist, etc), black preachers founded their own congregations of worship and formalized religious gatherings for free and bonded African Americans.
    Consider the history of the "black church in America." In what ways did black congregations mirror white churches, and in what ways did they establish or institutionalize a unique religious tradition for African Americans?