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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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BIBLIOGRAPHY MANUSCRIPT SOURCES AND ARCHIVES London: Guildhall Library: Minutes of the Dissenting Deputies NEWSPAPERS Boston Evening-Post Boston Gazette. 1775–1787. Boston, Ma. Boston News-Letter London Chronicle Massachusetts Spy New-York Mercury Pennsylvania Gazette St. James’s Chronicle Virginia Gazette PRIMARY SOURCES Adams, John. The Works of John Adams, Vol. X, edited by Charles Francis Adams. Boston: Little and Brown, 1856. Albright, Raymond W. A History of the Protestant Episcopal Church. New York, Macmillan, 1964. Allen, William Osborne Bird. and Edmund McClure. Two Hundred Years: The History of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge 1698–1898 (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970. Auchmuty, Samuel. Dr. Samuel Auchmuty to Captain J. Montresor; Chief Engineer, at Boston. Broadside: Library of Congress, 1775. Baxter, Richard. Five Disputations of Church Government, and Worship. London: Printed by R. W., 1659. ———. Religuiae Baxteriae: or Mr. Richard Baxter’s narrative of the most memorable passages of his own life and times. Faithfully publish’d from his own manuscript, by Matthew Sylvester. London: Printed for T. Parkhurst, J. Robinson, J. Lawrence, and J. Dunton, 1696. Beach, John, James Wetmore, Samuel Johnson and Henry Caner. A calm and dispassionate vindication of the professors of the Church of England, against the abusive misrepresentations and salacious ‘argumentations of Mr. Noah Hobart, in his late address to them Humbly offered to the consideration of the good people of New-England, with a preface by Dr. Johnson, and an appendix containing Mr. Wetmore’s and Mr. Caner’s vindication of the own cause and characters from the aspersions of the same author....

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