Susanna Linsley

  • Fellowship year:2012-2013
  • University: University of Michigan
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: United States
  • Dissertation Title: The American Reformation: The Politics of Religious Liberty, Charleston and New York, 1770-1830
  •  This dissertation argues that churches were important sites in which early Americans invented and participated in politics.  Revolutionary Charlestonians and New Yorkers- Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish alike- self-consciously engaged in a reformation of their religious societies and, as a result, forged new patterns of religious conflict and accommodation that shaped how they understood government, partisanship, toleration, and pluralism.  Practical politics took place every week  in religious societies (not just on Election Day), making them more important sites to help us understand the mechanics, culture, and lived experiences of early national politics.  This work draws on church records, personal papers, court cases, controversial literature, pamphlets, and periodicals, and brings together diverse historiographies such as Atlantic history, Early Modern European history, and political theory.  Through these literatures and sources, this study provides important insights into the practice of politics, the boundaries between church and state, and the uses and abuses of religious difference in the founding of a liberal democracy.