For those who like their historiographical reflections served with a dash of commemoration, this is an apt moment for considering recent scholarship on Protestantism in the colonial South. In 1562—around 450 years ago and forty-five years before the founding of Jamestown—a leading Huguenot nobleman and courtier, Gaspard de Coligny, sponsored a voyage of exploration and settlement to what became the southern United States. Looking to win France a larger share of the New World’s wealth, anxious to prove that Calvinists could be loyal and valuable servants to the French Crown, and perhaps casting a predatory eye on the rich treasure flotas that the Spanish sailed through the Bahama Channel, Coligny sent two ships under the command of his fellow Huguenot Jean Ribault to establish an outpost in the vast region the Spanish claimed under the name La Florida. On May 1, 1562, Ribault’s ships, manned primarily by Protestant sailors and soldiers from northern France and accompanied by a preacher of what Spanish sources generalized as “the doctrine of Luther,” made landfall in what is today north Florida, where they met local Timucuan people and erected a stone pillar emblazoned with the arms of the King of France.1 As readers will be aware if they know this history, and might infer if they do not, French attempts to colonize the southeast coast ultimately failed, but given the religious sympathies of those involved, it seems likely that this arrival marked the first act of Protestant worship in what would become the United States. The anniversary has recently been marked by the city of Jacksonville, the rededication of a monument to Ribault by the National Park Service, and prayer services.

This public awareness suggests how understandings of the history of the early South have changed in recent decades. As successive commentators have recognized, a major impetus for the explicit study of southern religion was the sense that the region was poorly accounted for within long-dominant narratives that began national religious history with Puritan New England and which characterized the colonial South as either irreligious or irrelevant.2 These roots have meant that historians interested in southern religion have often looked at the colonial period primarily to explain the emergence of a distinctive religious culture in the South. This typically has meant a focus on the second half of the eighteenth century and on uncovering the origins of the particular strains of evangelical Protestantism that seem so central to life in the region from the antebellum period to today.3 Recent work, however, addresses a wider range of themes. If the origins of evangelicalism remain an important part of the religious history of the colonial South, they are no longer the only things that matter.

As a whole, current scholarship tends to portray the early South as a broad region characterized by persistent and complex patterns of religious exchange and competition. This perspective, connected to wider movements in the history of the colonial South toward borderlands, continental, and hemispheric approaches, has extended the traditional geographic and temporal boundaries of both “colonial America” and “the South.” This has seen scholars give more attention to lands south and west of the Chesapeake and the Carolina Low Country and to periods before and after the eighteenth century.4 It is revealing, to take just one recent example, that Walter H. Conser, Jr.’s religious history of the Cape Fear region begins not with the arrival of English settlers, but with a consideration of Native American culture and religion and Spanish Catholicism in the region.5 Intercultural contact and exchange did not usually entail toleration; encounters in the South between Europeans and between settlers and Native Americans were often antagonistic and violent. As Karen Kupperman has observed, “transatlantic colonization was undertaken in the atmosphere of religious conflict that touched everything Europeans did.”6 Nevertheless, from early in its history the colonial South was a place where people from an array of cultural and religious traditions lived side by side.

The patterns established in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries long endured across a region where the cultures of three European empires (Spanish, French, and British) interacted with those of an array of Native American, African, African-American, and other European peoples. Randy Sparks, for example, has noted the late-seventeenth century presence of Catholic French people, Native Americans, and Africans in what became the state of Mississippi. To the consternation of local priests, German Lutherans were recruited to settle in the region by the French government, and they were followed by successive rounds of Spanish, Irish, and English migration in the eighteenth century. To add further complexity, control of land in the region changed hands between Native Americans and settlers and between the French, Spanish, English and American governments.7 Other contributors to this forum will address the historiographies of southern Catholicism, Protestant dissent, and Native American and African-American religion separately, but it is clear that none of those religious traditions developed in isolation. Dynamics like those that existed in Mississippi, the exchanges that occurred across the South between enslaved Africans and Europeans, and cooperation and competition within the British-controlled South’s Protestant community were all central to the long-term religious history of the region.

Understandings of religion in the early South have also been shaped by Atlantic history’s development into a leading paradigm for conceptualizing early American history more generally.8 As many recent accounts stress, the migrations of Anglicans, Quakers, Huguenots, Moravians, Presbyterians, and others to the South did not sever their ties to Europe or their co-religionists elsewhere in the New World. People, practices, and ideas continuously moved around well-connected and enduring religious networks. Consequently it has become clear that the religious lives of early southerners, like those of people elsewhere in the Americas, were shaped by combinations of local and broader, indeed transnational, forces. Borderlands, continental, and hemispheric approaches have drawn attention further south and west than long-dominant histories focused on colonial British America. Atlantic history has pushed southern historians to look east and highlighted, among other things, connections and similarities between the mainland South and the Caribbean, which has enriched studies of the development of black Protestantism, Quakerism, colonial Anglicanism, and other subjects. In this way, Atlantic history has served as an antidote to the excessive exceptionalism to which some southern religious history has been prone.

Somewhat paradoxically, recent attention to subjects in southern religious history other than evangelicalism may also be due to influential work on evangelicalism itself. Christine Leigh Heyrman’s Bancroft Prize winning 1998 book Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt, challenged any easy assumptions about the “naturalness” of the emergence of southern evangelicalism by arguing that many southerners were hostile to the movement and that it grew primarily in the early national and antebellum periods, rather than the colonial era. There was, Heyrman noted, nearly a century “between the 1740s, when evangelicals started actively proselytizing in the South, and the middle of the nineteenth century, when they may have won the attention if not the allegiance, of a majority of southern whites.”9 Protestant evangelicalism’s progress was even slower among African-Americans and Native Americans. If, as Heyrman’s work suggested, colonial southerners were not simply evangelicals in waiting, then, what were they? For several decades now, the once standard notion that they were just not very religious has been challenged on a number of fronts.10 One answer is that many of them were active adherents to the Church of England, and recent years have seen the emergence of a richer and more sophisticated literature on the Church of England in early America.

Much new research on Anglicanism, like older work, has focused on Virginia and South Carolina, but wider Atlantic histories and other sites have also received some attention. For the seventeenth century, recent work has tended to stress the many things that early Anglican settlers in Virginia had in common with their contemporaries in England, New England and elsewhere in the Americas and this has meant an increased awareness of the place of religion in the colony’s establishment. Douglas Bradburn has argued that militant Protestant—that is anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic—thinking and rhetoric played an important part in Virginia’s founding.11 Like the Spanish and early settlers in New England, the first Virginians saw the Christianization of Native Americans as part of their mission. While early hopes for the wholesale conversion of Virginia’s Native Americans did not result in mass conversions, Kupperman’s recent history of Jamestown has noted the “Virginia Company planned for a mission and education program on a very grand scale, and people throughout England supported it with their contributions.”12 Both “borderlands” and “Atlantic” perspectives have been useful here by situating the earliest English attempts at colonization firmly within the context of a religio-political rivalry in which the English both admired and disparaged aspects of Spain’s imperial growth. Eliga Gould, in considering early Anglo-America as a “Spanish periphery,” has noted that “English spent their first fifteen years in Virginia trying to the turn the colony into a sort of Protestant Mexico” and justified their own treatment of Native Americans by reference to Spanish practices.13

Likewise, scholars have deemphasized the contrast between Virginia and New England by recognizing that seventeenth-century Puritanism, a diverse movement that largely aimed to reform rather than destroy the Church of England, was not a phenomenon confined to one American region. April Lee Hatfield has noted that “Puritans formed an important part of Virginia’s population from the outset of its colonization” and had ties to like-minded settlers in New England.14 Surveying the circum-Atlantic religious scene in the 1640s, Carla Pestana has written that “many colonists could be classed as ‘puritan’ in their religious sensibilities” and this included not only those who had settled in New England, but also residents of “Providence Island, the Somers Islands, and Virginia.”15 Against the backdrop of politico-religious civil war in Britain, the 1640s and 1650s were tumultuous decades of intra-Protestant wrangling in the royal colony of Virginia. Governor William Berkeley expelled some prominent Puritan ministers in the 1640s and subsequently supported the banishment of active Puritans. In 1652 a Commonwealth-sponsored expedition cowed the colony’s royalists, deposed Berkeley, and installed the Puritan governor Richard Bennett.16 The restoration of the House of Stuart in Britain, and of Berkeley to the governorship, in 1660 secured the power of non-Puritan Anglicanism in the colony. While for much of the seventeenth century the Church of England was riven by internal controversy, the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 cemented its Protestant episcopalianism and its legal privileges, the latter of which were leavened by the official toleration of Protestant dissent. From the 1690s, the Church of England would grow across the South, bolstered by a trans-Atlantic network of assertive Anglican activists including the members of two new voluntary organizations, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG).

The expansion of the colonial Church of England, which had a dramatic impact on the South, was underpinned by a common belief in the importance of communal worship and a widespread, albeit never universal, acceptance of the principle of established religion. Although Anglican southerners and Puritan New Englanders disagreed about the ecclesiastical and theological details of any such establishment, they shared considerable common ground on this point. Nor were these two churches’ adherents alone in this. In 1722, for example, the South Carolina Presbyterian minister Archibald Stobo challenged the colony’s 1706 law establishing the Church of England, but rather than a severing of the church-state bond he envisioned a new joint establishment encompassing both Presbyterianism and Anglicanism.17 Wider perspectives on the early South underline this point: Catholics and Anglicans alike wrestled with how to recreate state-supported European Christianity in colonial societies. Supporters of the Church of England always lived side by side with other Protestants in the English colonial South, but as John K. Nelson has noted of eighteenth-century Virginia, church and state were intimately connected and the parish was a unit with responsibility over matters that would (only subsequently) come to be seen as both “civil” and “religious.”18

Beyond recovering the salience of the church-state nexus, J. Nelson has provided a sweeping reevaluation of the Church of England as a provider of institutional religion by attempting “to reconstruct the everyday context of colonial Virginia Anglicanism.” He has shown that the colony’s Anglican clergy was more dedicated and less scandalous than frequently claimed and that the widespread creation of chapels of ease, which allowed for the existence of multiple congregations within large parishes, made churchgoing easier and more common than previously understood. Through the regular provision of opportunities for communal worship and careful to attention to its legal privileges, the church found ways to ensure that Virginians—men and women, rich and poor, free and slaves—adhered to it. “Viewed from its parishes rather than from Williamsburg or London,” J. Nelson argues, “Virginia’s Anglican establishment appears firmly rooted and tightly woven into the daily and commonplace experiences of eighteenth-century Virginians.”19

While many metropolitan supporters of the trans-Atlantic Anglican revival aspired to fully recreate the ecclesiastical structure of the church in England, in the colonies it remained an episcopal church without local bishops. Historians continue to explore how this expanded the power of the laity in church affairs and affected local religious practice. Leslie Lindenauer, for example, has argued that in the seventeenth century, the absence of a dominant Anglican ministry helped open up space for women to exercise religious authority.20 Edward Bond has argued that while books and deacons were used to assist ordained ministers in conducting public worship in seventeenth-century England, in contemporary Virginia they were even more important as the colony struggled to attract sufficient numbers of episcopally-ordained clergymen.21 As several scholars have recognized, the Book of Common Prayer, used at home and in church, served as a loyalty-inspiring touchstone of Anglican practice for southern men and women.22 The influence of the laity did not mean, however, that popular commitment to the church was weak. J. Nelson has emphasized the extent to which “Virginia’s parishes were firmly under lay control by leading gentry families,” but argued that this system produced in non-clergymen a “remarkable sense of responsibility in ensuring that Anglican worship—in form and substance—prevailed everywhere in the colony.”23

The Church of England clearly appealed to southern elites, but it also attracted the allegiance of more common people. Evidence for the depth of lay support for Anglicanism has often been difficult for historians to gauge. In Bond’s characterization, “theirs was a low-key piety, deeply felt and involving the ‘whole individual’,” but given to order rather than to passion or ecstasy. Anglicans worked out their salvation through a well-ordered journey to God.”24 When lay Anglicans’ devotion left traces in the written record, it often did so through churchmen’s opposition to what they regarded as the excesses of other denominations. William Stephens of Georgia, the secretary to the new colony’s Trustees, was a witness to some of the earliest moments in evangelical history in the colony in the late 1730s and 1740s. Stephens became increasingly concerned with the doctrines and style of George Whitefield, who arrived in the colony as an Anglican clergyman in 1738, but nevertheless recorded in his diary that “I should still think it my duty to attend the publick Worship, whatever my Sentiments were of the Preacher.” It was his responses to the rising public influence of Whitefield and his supporters, a recent biography notes, that revealed “how much Stephens valued the principles and rituals of the Church of England.”25

Given these evidentiary challenges, students of colonial Anglicanism, like other scholars of American religion, have been drawn to examinations of religious practice and material culture as ways to better understand “lived religion.” Nelson has noted that “the evidence for Anglican spirituality and vital religious practice must largely be inferred from everyday behaviors,” and he and others have taken up this challenge.26 Lauren Winner has argued that “Virginians were not whited sepulchers just waiting for evangelical revivalists to ‘awaken’ them to the importance of Christianity,” and used analyses of objects including baptismal bowls, needlework, cookbooks, and mourning rings to illustrate the “quotidian religiosity of the eighteenth-century Virginia gentry.”27 Louis P. Nelson has focused on South Carolina Anglicans’ “material religion,” including but not limited to church architecture, to demonstrate the richness of lay religiosity in the colony and argue that Anglican devotional life migrated from the household to “the space of the church” over the course of the eighteenth century.28 Evangelicals would subsequently decry the aridness and superficiality of the established church, but in Christine Heyrman’s apt summary, such generalizations were countered by their own “recollections of the devotional regimen of Anglican mothers, the stern rectitude of Anglican fathers, and the common parental practices of teaching young Anglican children to read with the Bible as their primer, drilling them in the catechism, and stocking their households with books of sermons and other religious treatises.”29

While rejecting the notion that the Church of England’s only role was the buttressing of social and political hierarchy, most recent work does not deny that Anglican practice helped display and bolster the dominance of the Anglophone South’s slave-holding gentry. Rather it suggests, as L. Nelson has argued, “that Anglicans were fully capable of embracing the piety and prayer associated with the contemplative life and the social and political hierarchies that were an everyday reality.”30 Getting the balance right in this regard can be challenging. The ongoing rehabilitation of southern Anglicanism should not obscure the fact that its entanglement with slavery—as much as lay piety and the power of vestries—helped determine the particular features of the colonial Church of England. Atlantic perspectives are particularly valuable in this context because the fusion of legally-established Anglicanism with plantation slavery was not just a feature of the mainland South. L. Nelson, for example, has argued that Virginia and South Carolina should be considered as part of a greater British Caribbean dominated by “a cohesive planter class united by a shared political and social identity.” The emergence of this group—a process that stretched from the 1670s to the 1710s—“was marked by a profound transformation in the architecture of Anglican churches” across the region. The masonry and cruciform churches constructed in this period not only represented Anglican respect for “regularity” and order, they also marked “the appropriation of the architecture of the church by this new elite, hereditary landed class for the purposes of reifying their social and political station.”31

Similarly, in a creative and compelling account of eighteenth-century colonial Anglican ritual life, Nicholas Beasley has argued that the “British slave societies” of Barbados, Jamaica, and South Carolina saw “the gradual elaboration of a set of ritual habits in societies whose most powerful members were committed to a fundamental racial and cultural stasis.”32 Beasley stresses the similarities among these three colonies, arguing that in all of them participation in Anglican rituals was more vigorous than many older accounts claimed. A commitment to the regular practice of Anglican rites was both an exercise in “whites’ studied continuity with early modern English religious culture” and a modification of it as they developed practices, such as home rather than church baptism, that “excluded most persons of color from Christian worship throughout the colonial period.”33 This affected religious life for black and white people alike, and Beasley’s and L. Nelson’s works demonstrate that colonial Anglicanism’s interaction with slavery cannot be walled off from its wider history. As slavery moved to the center of economic and cultural life in many localities, Anglican affinities for systems of hierarchy led many supporters of the church on both sides of the Atlantic to identify its interests with those of masters.34 This desire to cultivate masters, gentry hostility to conversion, the patterns of exclusion noted by Beasley, and black people’s own awareness and rejection of such dynamics, help to explain why the great majority of enslaved people in the colonies remained outside the established church. Despite the fact that Anglicans were among the first Protestants to seek to convert slaves, it was not until well into the nineteenth century that Christianity became a sizeable presence within communities of enslaved people. Moreover, evangelicalism, rather than Anglicanism, proved to be the key vehicle for this transformation.35

If, as Beasley suggests, planters found ways to modify Anglican practices such as baptism to underline their own power, it is also the case that the church’s aspirations to be the church for the entirety of the population contributed to a surprisingly enduring interest in Christianizing the Atlantic world’s black people. In what is probably the most revisionist argument made within recent work, Annette Laing has used the scholarship of John Thornton and others on west Africa’s connections to the Atlantic world to point out that at least some of the enslaved people in South Carolina who were touched by Anglicanism already knew Christianity in Africa through Catholicism. This has led her to argue that enslaved people in South Carolina before 1750 would not necessarily have identified Christianity with trans-Atlantic slavery or as an aspect of their repression in the colonies, and that “contrary to received wisdom, neither the quantity nor the quality of the American evidence supports the belief that most Africans in the early South Carolina Low Country rejected Anglican Christianity.”36 Few other recent scholars have been willing to go as far as Laing in estimating Anglicanism’s appeal to enslaved people, but it is clear that some free and enslaved people of color did find forming connections to the established church appealing for a wide, if variable and difficult to unpack, array of spiritual, cultural, and political reasons.37 Moreover, even as most enslaved people remained aloof or excluded from the established church, the enslaved slave population of some parts of the continental South and the Caribbean was proportionally so large that black people became a sizeable part of some congregations. This has led Robert Olwell to observe that in South Carolina, while “the church may have been of small importance in the lives of most slaves, slaves played a significant part in the life of the church.”38 Together, recent work suggests that J. Nelson’s characterization of the Church of England as “by no means a ‘for whites only’ institution” in Virginia is applicable across the colonial South.39

What then of evangelicals and the religious revivalism that have long been central to the story of the religion in the South? Since Jon Butler’s challenging, now thirty years ago, of the existence of a single, interconnected Great Awakening across the thirteen colonies, many scholars of colonial religion have been wary of overestimating the power of early evangelicalism, especially in the South.40 Heyrman’s argument that “evangelicalism came late to the American South, as an exotic import rather than an indigenous development” has also proven influential in this regard.41 Recently, however, Thomas Little has argued for a deeper history of southern evangelicalism and the significance to it of the particular religious dynamics present in early eighteenth-century South Carolina. Little has noted that Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregationalist, Quaker, French Reform, and German Reform congregations all existed in the colony before George Whitefield’s arrival there, and argued that the presence of “very sizeable and pluralistic non-Anglican Protestant reform and sectarian population” was one of the “critical variables that shaped the context in which southern evangelicalism emerged.” But, in Little’s analysis, it was also important to the development of evangelicalism that the colony saw an Anglican resurgence that produced a strong but contentious legal establishment for the Church of England, an aggressive program of church building, and an influx of missionary clergymen, all of which combined to create a feeling of crisis for those dissenters who remained.42 In Little’s view, it was South Carolinians’ active and passionate commitment to their various churches, not their spiritual deadness, that set the stage for the new revivalism of the 1740s and beyond.

As historians have long known and recent work underlines, early evangelicalism’s footprint was uneven: often shallow in relatively mature coastal communities but deeper in more recently settled inland areas.43 J. Nelson observed that in Virginia, for example, while Baptists and Presbyterians became more numerous in the colony from the 1750s, “some parishes had few or no first-hand encounters with dissenters” before the 1770s.44 Jewel Spangler’s careful attention to these patterns led her to argue that dissenters’ and churchmen’s efforts to Christianize Virginia can partly be seen as complementary, with Presbyterians and Baptists helping to meet religious “supply” problems in regions underserved by the established church.45 While many historians continue to stress the distinctiveness of evangelical culture, there are also suggestions to rethink the rather too neat divides that have been used to differentiate evangelicals from southern Anglicans. Spangler has argued that first Presbyterians and then Baptists simultaneously challenged Virginia’s existing culture and found ways to appeal to aspects of it. Most Baptists, she claims, “did not leave behind their commitment to patriarchy and slavery.”46 They were able to expand their churches in part “because they did not stand in stark opposition to the dominant social and political order in ways that would have mattered the most.”47 Likewise, others have reconsidered overly-simplistic distinctions between tolerant evangelicals and intolerant Anglicans. Evangelical ministers cooperated at times, but they also competed for new adherents. Peter N. Moore has cautioned against too strong an emphasis on a shared culture of accommodation or toleration in the backcountry, noting that in the predominantly Scots-Irish upcountry South Carolina settlement of the Waxhaws “sectarian identity was strong” and that “religious outsiders—Baptists and in particular Anglicans—came in for torrents of abuse from their Presbyterian neighbors.”48

If evangelical religion was present in parts of the South at least from the 1740s, how widely influential it was in the colonial period remains a more contested issue, especially in light of the historiographical reevaluation of Anglicanism. New forms of evangelical religion profoundly affected the lives of some they touched, but did this dramatically change colonial society? As Spangler has noted in her admirably lucid and even-handed explication of the growth of the Baptists in Virginia, “in 1775 the Baptist Church was still a tiny dissenting sect in the most Anglican of North American colonies.”49 J. Nelson has cautioned that despite “contemporaneous fears, rumors, as well as estimates to the contrary,” we should remember that “evangelical dissenters were not omnipresent in Virginia in the two or three decades preceding the Revolution.” Moreover, Nelson claims, “there is a temptation to read the post-Revolutionary triumphs of evangelical Protestantism back into the pre-Revolutionary decades.”50 In Thomas Kidd’s view, however, “the Great Awakening can be acknowledged as ‘great’ because it produced the evangelical movement.” Although, he notes, “the movement’s most explosive growth remained in the future, eighteenth-century evangelicals had successfully established the religion of the new birth as a permanent fixture on the American cultural scene.”51

While these historians differ in their points of emphasis there is considerable shared terrain here. As with many other aspects of early American history, much depends on whether colonial religious history is conceived of as a self-contained field or as the beginning of a longer American story. Given the recent recovery of the richness and vitality of colonial Anglicanism, it is fitting that besides being the 450th anniversary of Jean Ribault’s Huguenot expedition, 2012 marks the 350th anniversary of the publication of the canonical 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. The southern United States would be transformed by evangelical Protestantism, but colonial southerners’ religious lives were not spent simply waiting for its arrival.

  1. John T. McGrath, The French in Early Florida: In the Eye of the Hurricane (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000).

  2. Valuable historiographical assessments of religion in the colonial South include John B. Boles, “The Discovery of Southern Religious History,” in Interpreting Southern History: Historiographical Essays in Honor of Sanford W. Higginbotham, eds. John B. Boles and Evelyn Thomas Nolen(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987), 510–48; Randy J. Sparks, “Religion in the Pre-Civil War South,” in A Companion to the American South, ed. John B. Boles(Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002), 156–175; Jon F. Sensbach, “Before the Bible Belt: Indians, Africans, and the New Synthesis of Eighteenth Century Southern Religious History,” in Religion in the American South: Protestants and Others in History and Culture, eds. Beth Barton Schweiger and Donald G. Mathews(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 5–29; and Jon F. Sensbach, “Religion and the Early South in an Age of Atlantic Empire,” Journal of Southern History, 73 (2007): 631–42.

  3. See, for example, Charles Reagan Wilson, “Introduction,” in Religion in the South, ed. Charles Reagan Wilson(Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985), 4–5.

  4. Sensbach has drawn particular attention to this development. Sensbach, “Religion and the Early South in an Age of Atlantic Empire,” 634–36.

  5. Walter H. Conser, Jr., A Coat of Many Colors: Religion and Society Along the Cape Fear River of North Carolina (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006).

  6. Karen Ordahl Kupperman, The Jamestown Project (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 15.

  7. Randy J. Sparks, Religion in Mississippi (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001), 15, 19–26.

  8. For a recent synthesis of colonial religious development from an explicitly Atlantic perspective, see Carla Gardina Pestana, Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

  9. Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 6.

  10. Particularly influential in this regard were the syntheses of colonial American religious history produced by Patricia Bonomi and Jon Butler, which decentered New England in the nation’s early religious history and stressed that colonial American culture became more, not less, influenced by institutional Protestant Christianity over time. Bonomi, Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America (1986; New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); and Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990).

  11. Douglas Bradburn, “The Eschatological Origins of the English Empire,” in Douglas Bradburn and John C. Coombs, eds., Early Modern Virginia: Reconsidering the Old Dominion (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011), 15–56.

  12. Kupperman, Jamestown Project, 298–99.

  13. Eliga H. Gould, “Entangled Histories, Entangled Worlds: The English-Speaking Atlantic as a Spanish Periphery,” American Historical Review 112, no. 3 (June 2007): 769.

  14. April Lee Hatfield, Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 115, 119.

  15. Carla Gardina Pestana, The English Atlantic in the Age of Revolution, 1640–1661 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 21.

  16. On the religious situation in Virginia in the English Civil War years, see Hatfield, Atlantic Virginia, 116–22; and Pestana, The English Atlantic in An Age of Revolution, 54–66, 82–85, 115–17.

  17. Thomas J. Little, “The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism: Revivalism in South Carolina, 1700–1740,” Church History, 75 (2006): 785.

  18. John K. Nelson, A Blessed Company: Parishes, Parsons, and Parishioners in Anglican Virginia, 1690–1776 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 16.

  19. Ibid., 7. Brent Tartar has provided a valuable overview of the scholarly reassessment of Virginian Anglicanism and situated recent works within the longer literature on the colony. Tarter, “Reflections on the Church of England in Colonial Virginia,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 112 (2004): 338–71.

  20. Leslie J. Lindenauer, Piety and Power: Gender and Religious Culture in the American Colonies, 1630–1700 (New York: Routledge, 2002), xviii–xix.

  21. Edward L. Bond, Damned Souls in a Tobacco Colony: Religion in Seventeenth-Century Virginia (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2000), 183–84. Bond’s Spreading the Gospel in Colonial Virginia: Preaching and Community: With Selected Sermons and Other Primary Documents (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005) begins with a brief account of religion in colonial Virginia and then presents a selection of sermons by Anglican clergymen.

  22. On the role of the Book of Common Prayer and other texts in Anglican piety, see Catherine Kerrison, Claiming the Pen: Women and Intellectual Life in the Early American South (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), 41; Lauren F. Winner, A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 91; Bond, Damned Souls in a Tobacco Colony, 264; and Heyrman, Southern Cross, 11.

  23. J. Nelson, A Blessed Company, 3, 32.

  24. Bond, Damned Souls in a Tobacco Colony, 245.

  25. Julie Anne Sweet, William Stephens: Georgia’s Forgotten Founder (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010), 185, 200.

  26. J. Nelson, A Blessed Company, 9.

  27. Winner, Cheerful and Comfortable Faith, 2, 3–5, 17.

  28. Louis P. Nelson, The Beauty of Holiness: Anglicanism & Architecture in Colonial South Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 214–15.

  29. Heyrman, Southern Cross, 14–15.

  30. L. Nelson, Beauty of Holiness, 367. Emphasis added.

  31. L. Nelson, Beauty of Holiness, 258, 262.

  32. Nicholas M. Beasley, Christian Ritual and the Creation of British Slave Societies (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009), 5–6.

  33. Beasley, Christian Ritual, 10. Winner has likewise interpreted eighteenth-century Virginian’s embrace of household rather than church baptism in part as a response to the leveling implications of the baptism of enslaved people. Winner, Cheerful and Comfortable Faith, 44.

  34. On the development of Anglican attitudes toward slavery, see Travis Glasson, Mastering Christianity: Missionary Anglicanism and Slavery in the Atlantic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

  35. The best account of the emergence of black Protestantism, and an excellent and early example of the benefits of considering developments in the colonial South alongside those in the Caribbean, remains Sylvia R. Frey and Betty Wood, Come Shouting to Zion: African American Protestantism In the American South and British Caribbean to 1830 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).

  36. Annette Laing, “‘Heathens and Infidels’? African Christianization and Anglicanism in the South Carolina Low Country, 1700–1750,” Religion and American Culture 12 (2002): 200.

  37. Glasson, Mastering Christianity, 105–9.

  38. Robert Olwell, Masters, Slaves, and Subjects: The Culture of Power in the South Carolina Low Country (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998), 107.

  39. J. Nelson, Blessed Company, 267. The work discussed here has centered on the eighteenth century. See also Rebecca Goetz’s The Baptism of Early Christianity: How Christianity Created Race (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) sheds much needed light on the seventeenth century.

  40. Jon Butler, “Enthusiasm Described and Decried: The Great Awakening as Interpretative Fiction,” Journal of American History 69 (1982): 305–325.

  41. Heyrman, Southern Cross, 9.

  42. Little, “The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism,” 771, 773. See also Little, “‘Adding to the Church Such as Shall be Saved’: The Growth in Influence of Evangelicalism in Colonial South Carolina, 1740–1775,” in Money, Trade and Power: The Evolution of Colonial South Carolina’s Plantation Society, eds. Jack P. Greene, Rosemary Brana-Shute, and Randy J. Sparks (Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press, 2001), 362–82.

  43. For the interconnections between American historiographies of the frontier and religion, see John Boles, “Turner, the Frontier, and the Study of Religion in America,” Journal of the Early Republic 13 (1993): 205–16.

  44. J. Nelson, A Blessed Company, 285.

  45. Jewel L. Spangler, Virginians Reborn: Anglican Monopoly, Evangelical Dissent, and the Rise of the Baptists in the Late Eighteenth Century (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 46, 77.

  46. Ibid., 165.

  47. Ibid., 4.

  48. Peter N. Moore, World of Toil and Strife: Community Transformation in the Backcountry South Carolina, 1750–1805 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2007), 3.

  49. Spangler, Virginians Reborn, 87.

  50. Nelson, A Blessed Company, 285.

  51. Thomas S. Kidd, The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007), 323.