Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Visions of a Peaceful World: Locating Peace in Early Nineteenth-Century New England, 1805–1850
by Blythe, Patrick G., Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2012, 285; 3533972
Abstract (Summary)

Early nineteenth-century America witnessed a crusade to end all war and establish a peaceful culture. The energy behind the movement came from New England, not from mid-Atlantic Quakers. Made up of military veterans, liberal and conservative Christians, entrepreneurs and merchants, mothers and moralists, these reformers argued that all war, even the American Revolution, was contrary to Gospel ethics. I examine the lives and writings of four prominent peace advocates: Congregational minister Noah Worcester; Yankee entrepreneur and Presbyterian David Low Dodge; merchant, gentleman farmer, and orthodox Congregationalist convert William Ladd; and popular author and Episcopalian Lydia Huntley Sigourney. Drawing on their experiences with personal and local conflicts, they developed alternative pathways to peace, thereby emphasizing a variety of methods and outcomes. Dodge shunned government and renounced all forms of violence (even in self-defense). Worcester and Ladd placed their hope in government—local, state, national, and international. Sigourney argued that peace depended on the education of women who would teach young men how to live in harmony. Despite their differences, all four argued that wars and violence were not natural but personal and collective choices. Peace was not merely the absence of violence or war. It was the creation and maintenance of social hierarchies and cultural systems at the local level—in families, churches, towns, and reform organizations—that promoted nonviolent conflict resolution.

Previous studies of peace activism often present early reformers as participants in an unbroken chain of "pacifists." While it may be tempting to emphasize parallels between future pacifists and early peace advocates, we can comprehend activists' motivations and appreciate their diverse visions only by understanding their social and political milieus. Using a biographical lens, I analyze the interplay between personal experiences and ideological formation, explore the array of strategies offered by the leading peace advocates, and identify new contexts in which to understand peace advocacy, reform, and abolition. Conflicts and developments in early nineteenth-century New England—such as the Unitarian controversy, the decline of the Federalist Party, the remaking of gender norms, and the growth of benevolent institutions—are key to understanding the leading reformers' inspirations and ideology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dayton, Cornelia Hughes
Commitee: Clark, Christopher, Dayton, Cornelia Hughes, Gross, Robert A.
School: University of Connecticut
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, American history, Peace Studies
Keywords: American Peace Society, Antebellum, Early Republic, New England, Peace movements, Social reform
Publication Number: 3533972
ISBN: 978-1-267-79552-6
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