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Class Year

2002

Abstract

This study of public reaction to the Battle of Gettysburg in the context of the wider experience of the American Civil War focuses on the view of Providence in history and war. To that end, this study primarily utilizes documents which were part of the public discourse during the war. This includes two major groups of writings: newspaper editorials and articles and published sermons. This allows a view of the intersecting of religion with the secular world as well as patriotism within in the religious community. Collections from both the Union and the Confederacy have been accessed in an attempt to provide a balanced picture of the wartime public religious discourse. Published sermons have been selected for two reasons. First, they make up the vast majority of the historical record which we have today. Second, published sermons had the ability to reach a wider audience than one congregation on one specific Sunday morning. It is important to note that published sermons generally reflect a specific socio-economic and political group. Only pastors who had access to a publishing house, or who had members with such connections, would have been able to publish their sermons to would have been asked to publish their sermons. This would suggest that pastors whose sermons were published were not of the lower economic classes. Further, since most of these published sermons were requested by groups, they likely represent views held by a wider section of the surrounding society. This fact contributes to their import as evidence of the tide of religious discussion on each side, but also limits any dissenting voices. Thus, this study is interested in the commonly expressed religious views of each side, but does not examine in depth questions of the totality of such views.

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