Pearl, Christopher. "Pulpits of Revolution: Presbyterian Political Thought in the Era of the American Revolution." Journal of Presbyterian History Vol. 95, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2017): 5-17.
Source thumbnail image: Paxtang (Paxton) Presbyterian Church, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, undated postcard (PHS, Pearl Digital Collections)
Christopher Pearl is a professor of early American history at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He is the author of several articles including “Our God, and Our Guns”: Religion and Politics on the Revolutionary Frontier,” and had a research fellowship at the Presbyterian Historical Society in 2014.
1. Who is the author of this source, and who is the intended audience? Is this a reliable source?
2. Why does Pearl compare Presbyterian ministers’ oratorical style to that of Patrick Henry (page 5)? How does this advance his argument?
3. Why was it unusual and uniquely “American” for Rev. Francis Alison to suggest that people look out for “God, their neighbors & themselves,” in that order (page 10)? How does this concept relate to the basic principles of the American Revolution?
4. How did Rev. William Marshall’s idea of government lead him to view the practice of chattel slavery (page 11)?
5. What pastoral warnings about the failures of ancient governments, as evidenced mostly in the Bible, held true for the contemporary colonial government (page 14)? What effect did these warnings have on the congregations?
6. Why is it significant that Presbyterians were the largest religious group represented at Pennsylvania’s Constitutional Convention in 1776, making up 40% of delegates (page 15)?