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Anglican Church Policy, Eighteenth Century Conflict, and the American Episcopate

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Kenneth R. Elliott

Anglican Church Policy, Eighteenth Century Conflict, and the American Episcopate examines how leaders in the Church of England sought to reorganize the colonial church by installing one or two resident bishops at critical moments in the late 1740s, the early 1760s, and the mid 1770s when the British government moved to bring the colonies into closer economic and political alignment with England. Examining Anglican attempts to install bishops into the American colonies within the context of the Anglo-American world provides insight into the difficulties British political and ecclesiastical authorities had in organizing the management of the colonies more efficiently. Although the Church of England sustained wide influence over the population, the failure of the Anglicans’ proposal to install bishops into the colonies was symptomatic of the declining influence of the Church on eighteenth century politics. Differing views over political and ecclesiastical authority between the colonists and the Anglicans, and the possibility religious conflict might have on elections, concerned British authorities enough not to act on the Anglicans’ proposals for resident bishops for the colonies. The failure also highlights how eighteenth century British government increasingly focused on the political and economic administration of the expanded British Empire rather than its religious administration.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Acknowledgments ......................................................................................... vii Introduction ..................................................................................................... 1 1. The Making of a Controversy ................................................................... 13 2. Churchmen and Dissenters: Continuities and Discontinuities .................. 53 3. The Ecclesiastical Policy of Bishop Sherlock and Colonial Reaction ...... 83 4. Thomas Secker and Eighteenth Century Discourse ................................ 121 5. The Sermon Heard Round the World ..................................................... 147 6. Anglican Tactics and the British Government ........................................ 175 Conclusion .................................................................................................. 201 Bibliography ............................................................................................... 209 Index ........................................................................................................... 223

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