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The Last PuritansMainline Protestants and the Power of the Past$
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Margaret Bendroth

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469624006

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469624006.001.0001

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The End of One Epoch and the Beginning of Another

The End of One Epoch and the Beginning of Another

(p.133) Chapter Seven The End of One Epoch and the Beginning of Another
The Last Puritans

Margaret Bendroth

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter looks at the 1930s and 1940s, which were a turning point in the Congregational churches' long engagement with their past. It shows how a century of sentimental pride over the Pilgrim and Puritan legacy ended and history became a tool of angry people locked in a sectarian dispute. In the broader culture of the 1930s and 1940s, history was durably popular, a ready source of unifying symbols to an America proud of its past and grounded in the heroism of minutemen and founding fathers. The historical profession was also enjoying a new heyday, thriving in a time of greater specialization and emphasis on research. Church institutions, however, did not directly benefit from this new interest in the past—which turned out to serve secular interests more than spiritual ones.

Keywords:   1930s, 1940s, Pilgrim legacy, Puritan legacy, American history, historical profession, church institutions, new past

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