A Divinity for All Persuasions: Almanacs and Early American Religious Life

Hardcover | October 15, 2014

byT. J. Tomlin

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The almanac was early America's most affordable and widespread form of print. At its core, it was a calendar and an astrologically-based medical handbook punctuated by poetry, moral axioms, and amusing anecdotes. A Divinity for All Persuasions investigates the religious significance of earlyAmerica's most ubiquitous popular genre. Other than a Bible and perhaps a few sermons and schoolbooks, an almanac was the only printed item most people owned before 1820 and almanac-makers became astute arbiters of popular opinion. Catering to consumer demand by drawing on the religious works of their day, early American almanac-makersplaced a distilled Protestant vernacular at the center of their publications. By disseminating a recognizable collection of Protestant concepts regarding God's existence, divine revelation, the human condition, and the afterlife, almanacs played an unparalleled role in reinforcing British NorthAmerica's "shared religious culture."Employing a wealth of archival material, T.J. Tomlin analyzes the pan-Protestant sensibility distributed through the almanacs' pages between 1730 and 1820. Influenced by readers' opinions and printers' pragmatism, the religious content of popular print supports a fresh interpretation of earlyAmerican cultural and religious history. In sharp contrast to a historiography centered on intra-Protestant competition, Tomlin shows that most early Americans relied on a handful of Protestant "essentials" (the Bible, the afterlife, and a recognizably moral life) rather than denominationalspecifics to define and organize their religious lives.A Divinity for All Persuasions uncovers the prevailing religious sensibility at the center of early America's most popular form of print.

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The almanac was early America's most affordable and widespread form of print. At its core, it was a calendar and an astrologically-based medical handbook punctuated by poetry, moral axioms, and amusing anecdotes. A Divinity for All Persuasions investigates the religious significance of earlyAmerica's most ubiquitous popular genre. Othe...

T. J. Tomlin is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:October 15, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199373655

ISBN - 13:9780199373659

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: An Annual Friend1. Almanacs2. AstrologyPart II: The Liturgy of Popular Culture3. Death4. Authority5. ReligionPart III: Non-Protestants6. Catholics7. OthersConclusion