History 578 Lecture # 1
Christianity in the American 19
When Alexis de Tocqueville published
Democracy in America
in 1835, a book that had grown from
his lengthy tour of the U.S., he said, “there is no country in the world where the Christian religion
retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.”
“In France, I had almost always seen the spirit of religon and the spirit of freedom marching in
opposite directions. Bit in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in
common over the same country.”
By 1870 there were about 40 million people in the U.S.
2,000,000 were Baptists or Disciples
German Reformed 90,000 – 100,000
10. Quakers 90,000 – 100, 000
11. Dutch Reformed 70,000
12. Unitarians 30,000
13. Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, Winebrennarians, Swedenborgians, and Shakers about
10,000 adherents each.
In 1860 the census counted 38,183 church buildings, which averaged out to 1 house of worship for
every 608 Americans
These churches were served by 26,000 professional ministers and priests, and over 10,000 local part-
The Methodists alone had 19,883 churches in 1860
Regular church attendance was around 40% all along the East Coast. Further West the rates dropped to
about 25%, but then increased to about 40% again in the far West.
Comparison with Europe
In the 1830’s Andrew Reed, a Congregationalist from England couldn’t believe the vitality of the faith
he witnessed in America
He kept detailed notes comparing church attendance in American cities with roughly the same
population as English cities.
The Americans were ahead in every account.
Nottingham, an English city of about 50,000 people, had 23 churches and 4,864 parishoners.