Religion and the American Revolution

An Imperial History
Katherine Carté
Cloth price: $49.95
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Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: OIEAHC
Cloth/Hardcover Publication Date: 06/2021
Pages: 416
Cloth ISBN: 9781469662640
Ebook ISBN: 9781469662657


For most of the eighteenth century, British protestantism was driven neither by the primacy of denominations nor by fundamental discord between them. Instead, it thrived as part of a complex transatlantic system that bound religious institutions to imperial politics. As Katherine Carte argues, British imperial protestantism proved remarkably effective in advancing both the interests of empire and the cause of religion until the war for American independence disrupted it. That Revolution forced a reassessment of the role of religion in public life on both sides of the Atlantic. Religious communities struggled to reorganize within and across new national borders. Religious leaders recalibrated their relationships to government. If these shifts were more pronounced in the United States than in Britain, the loss of a shared system nonetheless mattered to both nations.

Sweeping and explicitly transatlantic, Religion and the American Revolution demonstrates that if religion helped set the terms through which Anglo-Americans encountered the imperial crisis and the violence of war, it likewise set the terms through which both nations could imagine the possibilities of a new world.

About The Author

Katherine Carte (who previously published as Katherine Carte Engel) is associate professor of history at Southern Methodist University, with affiliations in the Religious Studies department.


Albert C. Outler Prize, America Society of Church History (2022)

Finalist, Book Prize, Journal of the American Revolution (2021)


“Carte’s book is valuable to anyone who wants to understand the role of established religion in the British Empire and the reasons why established religion was abandoned after the war… carefully researched, clearly written, and interesting to read.” – Journal of the American Revolution

“Perhaps the most extensive study of public religion across the British Empire in the Revolutionary era. . . . Religion and the American Revolution will stand as an important touchstone for historians of the American Revolution and historians of eighteenth-century religion” —H-Early-America

“A timely Atlantic story [and] . . . a reorientation of how we should think about the nation’s founding.” — Society for U.S. Intellectual History

“A timely contribution to the historiography of the rise and fall of the first British Empire. . . . [F]uture scholars will be inspired by [Carte’s] findings.”—Church History

Religion and American Revolution excels as a history of protestant power in and through the American Revolution . . . [that] compellingly examines and critiques the mechanisms and architecture by which protestants asserted themselves through networks, despite their religious rhetoric never having been a necessary cause for the American Revolution or the founding of the United States.”—American Religion

“[Carte’s] recovery of imperial Protestantism is a notable research achievement and a valuable addition to the new transatlantic assessment of the Revolution.”—Journal of Church and State

“Carte’s work encourages further engagement with a topic whose consequences reach far into the present.”—Journal for the History of Theology

“This book marks the full maturity of Atlantic history brought to bear on a subject of perennial interest: the place of religion in the American War of Independence. By focusing on ‘British imperial protestantism,’ Carte illuminates institutional religious life before, during, and after the Revolution on both sides of the Atlantic. It is simply a terrific book, a scholarly landmark that should decisively shape research on the subject for a very long time to come.”–Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame

“An important contribution both to the history of religion in America and to the new literature on the imperial dimensions of the American Revolution. Carte carefully reconstructs the colonial transatlantic interconnections among protestants and reveals how the Revolution transformed protestantism in America.”–Andrew O’Shaughnessy, University of Virginia

“Was the United States founded as a ‘protestant nation’? Carte takes on one of the most enduring narratives in American history and decisively shows that Anglo-America’s protestant order did not survive the Revolution and its violent dismantling of empire. A strikingly fresh interpretation of the politics of church and state in an era of revolutionary change.”–Susan Juster, University of Michigan

OI Author Conversations with Kate Carté and Julia Gaffield

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