Cosmos Crumbling

Cosmos Crumbling : American Reform and the Religious Imagination

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In the forty years before the Civil War, America rang with the cry of reform. Abolitionists stormed against the cruelties of slavery. Temperance zealots hounded producers and consumers of strong drink. Sabbatarians fought to make Sunday an officially recognized sacred day. Women's rights activists proclaimed the case for sexual equality. Others offered programs of physiological and spiritual self-reform: phrenology, vegetarianism, the water-cure, spiritualism, and miscellaneous others. "Even the insect world was to be defended, " Emerson mused, "and a society for the protection of ground-worms, slugs, and mosquitoes was to be incorporated without delay." Cosmos Crumbling brilliantly reassesses the religious roots of these antebellum reform movements through a series of penetrating profiles of key men and women who sought to remake their worlds in sacred terms. Filled with vivid anecdotes and penetrating analysis, the book presents a genealogy of reform cosmology that begins with the American Revolution and ends with "the woman question, " the issue that drove a wedge between traditional evangelical reformers and the more radical reformers who questioned the very foundations of the conventional Christian cosmos. Here is the story of Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush and his lifelong odyssey to bring together his unorthodox Christian ideals and his revolutionary republicanism. Other portraits highlight the guiding role of religion in the careers of the tireless abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, the evangelical minister Lyman Beecher and his daughter, influential educational reformer Catharine Beecher, as well as of Angelina and Sarah Crimke, and Lydia Maria Child, fearles women who made enormous strides in reimagining the spiritual and moral power of women and their place in society. There is also an intriguing chapter on leaders of the body reforms, including phrenologist Orson Squire Fowler, who began his career reading the heads of his fellowshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 296 pages
  • 157.48 x 238.76 x 33.02mm | 566.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195037529
  • 9780195037524

About Robert H. Abzug

About the Author: Robert H. Abzug is Professor of History and Director of the American Studies Program at the University of Texas. His books include Inside the Vicious Heart: Americans and the Liberation of Nazi Concentration Camps, and Passionate Liberator: Theodore Dwight Weld and the Dilemma of more

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66 ratings
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5 8% (5)
4 45% (30)
3 36% (24)
2 9% (6)
1 2% (1)
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