Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Lundy, Jr., McKinley Snipes Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-11222005-122027 Title Thomas Jefferson and political preaching: two case studies of free religious expression in the American pulpit Degree Master of Arts Department Religion Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Kathleen Flake Committee Member Lisa Bressman Committee Member Keywords
- Virginia religious history
- church and state
- American civil religion
- Alexander McLeod
- Revolutionary war sermons
Date of Defense 2005-12-02 Availability unrestricted AbstractRELIGION
THOMAS JEFFERSON AND POLITICAL PREACHING: TWO CASE STUDIES
OF FREE RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION IN THE AMERICAN PULPIT
McKINLEY S. LUNDY, JR.
Thesis under the direction of Professor Kathleen Flake
This work is concerned chiefly with Thomas Jefferson’s understanding of and reaction to the phenomenon of political preaching. The longstanding tradition of occasional preaching in New England, along with the viciously partisan Presidential election of 1800, both serve to contextualize Jefferson’s ideas in light of American clerical tradition and personal political struggle. Though he explicitly argues against religious politicking in an 1815 unsent letter to Congressman Peter Wendover, Jefferson’s largely ignored relationship with the Episcopal minister Charles Clay clearly provides evidence that for some period of time, he not only approved of politically charged religious rhetoric, but actively sought to utilize it as a tool of influencing public opinion. Using his relationship with Clay and the 1800 election as historical points of departure, I argue that one can better see Jefferson’s 1815 reproach of political preaching more as a deeply personal political response to the mode of his public critics’ attacks rather than as a calculated discourse on the limits free speech and free exercise.
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