An exhaustive search for divine handiwork in the founding of the United States.
Published to counter contemporary historians’ tendencies to downplay the importance of religion in the founding of the United States, God Bless America seeks divine providence in the New World in three historical waves, from 1500 to 1830. The first wave comprises immigration fueled by the Protestant Reformation in Europe; the second wave consists of the Great Awakening in Christianity leading to the Revolutionary War; and the third wave is the Second Great Awakening during the decades following the war. The book shines when explaining how an evangelical undercurrent helped unite the 13 colonies, how faith helped the Founding Fathers to persevere against the British and how post-war religious revivalism enabled the nascent country to mature in a world dominated by much older European powers. But the tome frequently offers up what seem to be just random events, luck in battle or even unusual weather patterns, as evidence of God’s favoritism. Surely some probability analyses highlight the unlikelihood of certain events happening as they did. But does mind-boggling improbability equal divine intervention? Maybe, maybe not–perhaps only God knows. The book also makes some propositions best described as odd. One suggestion in particular–that the country must have been blessed with the Founding Fathers since provincial America was an unlikely place to find such great leaders–can’t help but leave readers wondering whether some mysteries are best left in history’s X-files.
An exploration of the importance of religion in early U.S. history finds God’s light shining on too many unexplainable historical events.