Wandering Souls in Pre-Civil War America



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Paul Harvey

Earlier I had posted a notice about a new book by Scott Rohrer, Wandering Souls: Protestant Migrations in America, 1630-1865. Sometime later we're going to feature a fuller and more extensive look at this work here at the blog, but in the meantime, to continue our early America series of posts this week, here's a review just up at Choice. The author's blog post about his work, which reflects on the material in the book and his family's own migration history, is here.

Rohrer, S. Scott Wandering souls: Protestant migrations in America, 1630-1865. North Carolina, 2010. 312p bibl index afp; ISBN
9780807833728, $39.95. Reviewed in 2010aug CHOICE

Rohrer (independent scholar) presents a persuasive case that the religious motivations for migration in American Protestantism have not been adequately studied, and proceeds to argue that a clearly symbiotic relationship exists between religion and migration. The wider American cultural environment of wanderlust was an open invitation for Protestant seekers to pick up and leave in their search for spiritual fulfillment, their quest for Christian community, or their thirst for social reform. Rohrer examines motivations for migration (including the role of internal dissent, persecution, and utopianism) and patterns of migrations (westward from New England, southward from Pennsylvania, and northwesterly from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia). Specific migrations include the 17th-century migration of Puritans under Thomas Hooker, the 18th-century migration of Virginia Anglicans under Devereux Jarratt, and the 19th-century migrations of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, Moravians, Methodists, dissenting Baptists, Inspirationists, and Mormons. The result is a book that both widens and deepens readers' understanding of American Protestantism and the motivations of migration in shaping it.Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty. --B. M. Stephens, emeritus, Pennsylvania State University, Delaware County Campus

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