- Series: American Political Thought
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: University Press of Kansas (October 29, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0700626964
- ISBN-13: 978-0700626960
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #873,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God against the Revolution: The Loyalist Clergy's Case against the American Revolution (American Political Thought) Hardcover – October 29, 2018
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"Thirteen" by Steve Cavanagh
"A dead bang BEAST of a book that expertly combines Cavanagh’s authority on the law with an absolutely great thrill ride. Books this ingenious don’t come along very often." ―Michael Connelly | Learn more
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"Frazer’s book offers an essential and accessible point of entry to [the Loyalist] side of the story."—Review of Politics
"What emerges is a more wholistic portrait of the competing ideologies of the Revolutionary War, a portrait that illuminates the ideological and political positions that tore at the core principles of the Revolutionary War generation."--Choice
"Frazer's book is a signal achievement. He has brought Loyalists voices back into the light, to be considered and debated on their own merits."--Christianity Today
"God against the Revolution is a well-researched account of the published writings of Protestant Christian ministers who opposed the American Revolution. Frazer helpfully organizes the arguments of clerical Loyalists into five pertinent categories: arguments from Scripture, from reason, from law, from the contemporary situation, and in response to the actions of colonial patriots who promoted the revolution. The book argues persuasively that Loyalist appeals to these various authorities and in response to contemporary developments proceeded from learned, thoughtful, and morally upright spokesmen whose voices now deserve the hearing they were for the most part denied two centuries ago."—Mark Noll, author of In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492–1783
"Because history is often a tale told by the winners, there have been many studies of Patriot clergymen who preached a blend of Protestantism and Whig republicanism to support the Revolutionary cause. There have been far fewer examinations of how they were answered from Loyalist pulpits. Frazer’s study offers the fullest and most systematic analysis of the Loyalist clergymen’s biblical, theoretical, legal, and rational arguments against the American rebellion. It is an important contribution to the religious and intellectual history of the Revolutionary era."—Christopher Grasso, professor of history, College of William and Mary
About the Author
Gregg L. Frazer is professor of history and political studies and Dean of the School of Humanities at The Master’s University. He is the author of The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution, also from Kansas.
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Frazer begins by showing just how divided the Americans were. There were large numbers of Patriots, Loyalists, and many who were neutral. In time, however, neutrality was no longer an option, and Patriots who insisted on liberty and freedom suppressed the voices of dissent. The Loyalists were initially afraid of England taking away some of their liberties and ended up being afraid of the Patriots. He notes that “Americans who would later celebrate their Bill of Rights denied to Loyalists virtually every right on the list.” The Patriot decision to rebel is pictured as primarily based on worldly self-interest, people “dissatisfied with their level of liberty.” They believed they had the right to decide whether someone was a “legitimate magistrate,” while Loyalists insisted only God has this authority. Theological justification was difficult to prove.
Frazer presents the biblical interpretation driving the debate, showing that the patriots had a nuanced view of the Bible (“creative exegesis”), allowing them to be governed more by impressions than by exegesis, and more influenced by John Locke than the Apostle Paul. Loyalists were literalists, upholding the authority of Scripture, despite their dissatisfaction with taxation without a seat in Parliament. They sought biblical answers even if they didn’t like the conclusions. They sought peaceful protest resistance and believed reform was possible. “Although disobedience might be called for, rebellion was not the proper response.”
Loyalist clergy pleaded for reconciliation with England and blamed “troublemakers” (especially the Sons of Liberty) for stirring dissent, rejecting British and fomenting revolution. Loyalists realized the futility of their efforts when British attempts to offer diplomatic solutions were rebuffed by the Continental Congress. As war loomed, they appealed to just-war theory and declared the conflict an unjust war. They also were convinced a war against England was unwinnable.
Loyalist voices were largely silenced by the closure of churches, persecution of dissenters, and the destruction of pro-British pamphlets and printed sermons (no freedom of the press). Many Loyalists had their property seized, opposition was silenced, some were tarred and feathered and forcibly deported. Frazer points out, “It is important to remember that these men (the Loyalists) committed no crime. They were not punished for espionage or sabotage but simply for maintaining loyalty to the legal established government and for disagreeing with the rebels.” This is a sad chapter of American history I suspect most Americans are unaware of.
It would be interesting to learn more about the personal stories of loyalist clergy and their followers following the war. Many returned to England, but how did those who remained manage? Did any who returned to England later visit America, and what did they think of the new nation?
We might well respond with a shrug, “So what? The rebellion established a good nation.” But was the American Revolution legitimate? When we find ourselves at odds with the governing authorities, how ought we respond? This is something we could face if and when we are subjects of an unjust ruler. There is much to ponder in this provocative book that offers a rare look at the birth of our nation from an alternative perspective.
Academic and insightful, God Against the Revolution was a fascinating read. To read this book is to read the personal viewpoints of five men who sought to fight for what they believed regardless of the opposition against them. In this book, Dr. Frazer gives free rein to the clergymen's arguments while also explaining the context behind the points that they made. The arguments of the clergymen themselves are clear and profound, offering philosophical and biblical arguments against the Patriots' arguments. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves history and wants to see the truth behind the pre-American Revolution period.