JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Spring 2017) letters of Bishop Francis Asbury are a rich source, but must be used with care. Haselby nearly equates Asbury with the thousands who joined his church or were deeply influenced by it, but Asbury was perhaps the least representative Methodist of his time. More often than not, Asbury's comments on politics and economics reflected frustration at his membership's wayward engagement with the world. Seeking Methodists' indifference to the nation (which Haselby boldly asserts) through Asbury gives skewed results. Nor is it easy to measure Asbury's own commitment to the nation since his understanding of "empire" at times explicitly excluded areas of North America that were not part of the United States. To flesh out the social history of frontier Methodism, Haselby draws heavily on a twentieth-century memoir--an odd, unnecessary case of upstreaming. Though Haselby recognizes that "frontier revivalism formed a large and diverse movement," he pays scant attention to the diversity within and among groups like the Shakers, Primitive Baptists, and Methodists (267). The author concludes, "there is almost no chance, to my mind, that the absence of national consciousness among the Methodist leadership was either confined to the Church leadership
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Feb 23, 2017
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