Religion e-books at Cornell University
Revivalism social conscience, and community in the Burned-over District : the trial of Rhoda Bement
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This book attempts to build a world, the world of a rural village in antebellum New York State, around a single document: the trial of Rhoda Bement by the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Seneca Falls, New York. Bement was accused of "unchristian and unladylike" conduct in challenging the authority of her minister for his refusal to announce abolitionist lectures from the pulpit. Her trial took place in 1843, a moment when both her church and her com- munity were particularly vulnerable. While still buffeted by the economic uncertainty that followed the Panic of 1837, the people of Seneca Falls (indeed, of much of America) were caught up in a wave of religious enthusiasm and reform activity which posed new threats to an often fragile sense of commu- nity. The transcript of the Bement trial provides an extraordi- nary glimpse of the complex relationship between revivalism, which often pricked the social consciences of converts, and such antebellum reform movements as abolitionism, the temperance crusade, and the call for women's rights.