A Visitation of God

Northern Civilians Interpret the Civil War

by

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780195395990
  • 9780199780983
  • 9780190453275
This book examines the Civil War from the perspective of the northern laity, those religious civilians whose personal faith influenced their views on politics and slavery, helped them cope with physical separation and death engendered by the war, and ultimately enabled them to discern the hand of God in the struggle to preserve the national Union.From Lincoln's election to his assassination, the book weaves together political, military, social, and intellectual history into a religious narrative of the Civil War on the northern home front. Packed with compelling human interest stories, this account draws on letters, diaries, newspapers and church records along with published sources to conclusively demonstrate that many devout civilians regarded the Civil War as a contest imbued with religious meaning. In the process of giving their loyal support to the government as individual citizens, religious Northerners politicized the church as a collective institution and used it to uphold the Union so the purified nation could promote Christianity around the world. Christian patriotism helped win the war, but the politicization of religion did not lead to the redemption of the state.
  • Oxford University Press; December 2010
  • ISBN 9780199780983
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
  • Title: A Visitation of God
  • Author: Sean A. Scott
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780195395990
  • 9780199780983
  • 9780190453275

In The Press

"An extremely well researched and forcefully written study of a badly neglected subject. Sean Scott provides readers with much fresh information on the Union home front while offering an often searing critique of northern civil religion. An important contribution to both Civil War and American religious history."--George C. Rable, University of Alabama
"This fine book shows that northern civilians thoroughly merged religious and political energies before and during the Civil War. The author draws on a wide range of relevant sources (private writings, newspapers, publications from clerics, church and denominational records, and the collected works of Abraham Lincoln) to make his case....The result is a significant advance in our understanding that the Civil War (as Chicago editor Joseph Medill put it) was experienced by many Americans as 'a religious contest...a war for Christian civilization, for God's pure truth and man's universal brotherhood, against ignorance, depravity, and slavery allied.' The author's clean prose and fresh perspective should appeal to general readers as well as scholars."--Mark Noll, Notre Dame University
"In this seminal work Sean Scott makes a signal contribution to the rapidly developing literature on religion and the Civil War by giving an almost daily narrative of churched northerners grappling with what they must do to mobilize support for the war effort, effect emancipation, and create a new kind of community through common sacrifice but also through the purging of those who sinned against God and his chosen instrument--the Union. By looking at the northern home front, Scott enters a much understudied terrain and reorients understanding of religion's central place in American culture, politics, and interest. He shows, in a word, that God counted above the Mason-Dixon Line. Students of American religion, the war, and more will find his book instructive."--Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's University
"Deeply researched and written with subtlety and skill...."--Edward J. Blum, Christian Century
"[A] valuable contribution to our understanding of the northern home front."--American Historical Review
"An excellent introduction to the overarching construct of religion and the Civil War as manifested in one northern region of a broken nation."--Journal of Religion

About The Author

Sean A. Scott is Post-doctoral Fellow in the Center for American Studies and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership and American Studies, Christopher Newport University.

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780195395990
  • 9780199780983
  • 9780190453275