This introductory chapter briefly explores the emergence of the Primitive Baptist movement between the 1820s and 1850s. Primitive Baptists in the antebellum South struggled not only with missionary adversaries but with a set of beliefs that placed them at odds both with their fellow evangelicals and with their own fraught consciences. These beliefs distanced them from the optimistic strains of evangelical Protestantism. The chapter also explains how the study of the Primitive Baptist movement reflects a concurrent emotional turn in scholarship across the humanities and social sciences. In the case of nineteenth-century American evangelicalism, the Protestant construction of the emotional profile of other groups functioned as a primary means by which to distinguish themselves from such groups. Emotionality, just as importantly as skin color, national origin, language, or social class, served as a marker of difference for the Protestant middle class.
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