Abstract: Apess's early work with Methodist reformers indicates that his relationship to Methodism is more complicated, and more central to his anticolonial critique, than most critics suggest. Focusing on the value of temperance in reformist Methodist organizing and publicity, this article establishes the importance of reformist Methodist temperance for Apess's development of an Indian male public subject grounded in bodily self-control. I read Apess's two editions of A Son of the Forest (1829 and 1831) alongside reformist Methodist periodicals from Baltimore and New York, where reformers participated in the development of African American and labor publics before following the Methodist Episcopal Church in their adoption of the polite style of the evangelic mainstream. Apess used reformist Methodist rhetoric and organizing to create an Indian subject capable of full participation in the early republic's urban and print public spheres, modifying the tactics of eighteenth-century Christian Indian writing and anticipating the more militant nineteenth-century rhetoric of Indian resistance.
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Apr 28, 2010