The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism
Religious Revivalism in the South Carolina Lowcountry, 1670–1760
In The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism, Thomas J. Little refutes commonplace beliefs that South Carolina grew spiritually lethargic and indifferent to religion in the colonial era. Little argues that pluralism engendered religious renewal and revival, which developed further after Anglicans in the colony secured legal establishment for their church. The Carolina colony emerged at the fulcrum of an international Protestant awakening that embraced a more emotional, individualistic religious experience and helped to create a transatlantic evangelical movement in the mid-eighteenth century.
Offering new perspectives on both early American history and the religious history of the colonial South, The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism charts the regional spread of early evangelicalism in the too-often neglected South Carolina lowcountry—the economic and cultural center of the lower southern colonies. Although evangelical Christianity has long been and continues to be the dominant religion of the American South, historians have traditionally described it as a comparatively late-flowering development in British America. Reconstructing the history of religious revivalism in the lowcountry and placing the subject firmly within an Atlantic world context, Little demonstrates that evangelical Christianity had much earlier beginnings in prerevolutionary southern society than historians have traditionally recognized.
"Carefully researched and well told."—Early American Literature
"Evangelical Christianity's emergence in the lower South is surprisingly understudied, but Thomas Little's The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism goes a long way toward rectifying that neglect. His richly documented story of southern revivalism's beginnings represents a major contribution to our understanding of early American religion."—Thomas S. Kidd, Baylor University, author of The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America
"This deeply researched and clearly written book persuasively challenges the existing scholarship on the rise of evangelical Christianity in the colonial South. By shifting his focus away from Virginia, Little shows that a vibrant and lasting evangelical subculture developed much earlier than generally recognized, decades before the Revolution. As an impressive example of revisionist history, the book deserves wide readership."—John B. Boles, Rice University
"Little shows that evangelical revival and spirited dissent shaped the southern religious landscape long before the Great Awakening. His book opens an original and unexpected new chapter in early southern history."—Jon F. Sensbach, professor of history, University of Florida
"The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism breaks new historical ground in its exploration of religious activity during South Carolina's first century of settlement. The author confirms what many have long suspected: the population of the colony was far more religious than it is often portrayed. In readable prose, Thomas J. Little explains the often confusing religious terms and movements of the 17th and 18th centuries. It is a most welcome addition to my bookshelf."—Walter Edgar, University of South Carolina
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