Master of Arts (M.A.)
ABSTRACT French “Idolators,” British “Heretics,” Native “Heathens”: The Seven Years’ War in North America as a Religious Conflict With France and Great Britain as its primary belligerents, the Seven Years' War was an international conflict with a decidedly religious dimension, one based on the longstanding rivalry between Catholicism and Protestantism. In North America, the conflict galvanized clergymen in both the British and French colonies to frame the war as a religious struggle with potentially apocalyptic consequences. This discourse remains understudied by historians, and efforts to address religion's role in America during the Seven Years' War is usually one-sided, focusing either on the French or British experience. This paper aims to fill this historiographic gap by analyzing both sermons produced by Protestant ministers from across the American colonies and pastoral letters issued by the Catholic Bishop of Quebec between 1755 and 1763. Moreover, this paper argues that both French and British religious leaders viewed the Seven Years' War as an extension of the Catholic-Protestant European religious wars of the previous century, and believed that the conflict's outcome would determine the survival of their respective religions in North America. This paper also describes how Native Americans figured in this discourse, employing a combination of captivity narratives written by Protestant ministers and the reports of Jesuit missionaries to further illustrate the war's perceived apocalyptic significance. ABSTRACT “The English Establishment Is, Itself, of a Beastly Nature”: Catholicizing Great Britain in Pro-War American Discourse During the War of 1812 In order to catalyze support for their cause against the British during the War of 1812, pro-war writers in the United States revived a rhetorical device that had once served their Revolutionary predecessors: the casting of Great Britain as an anti-Protestant and practically Catholic agent. Specifically, these writers were reacting to claims made by certain New England religious and political authorities shortly after the war’s inception that Great Britain was Protestantism’s “bulwark,” and as a result should be viewed as an American ally rather than as an enemy. An examination of pro-war newspaper articles and published sermons ranging in origin from Vermont to Maryland demonstrates how pro-war writers deconstructed Great Britain’s historically accepted role as Protestantism’s defender. It also reveals how this rhetorical strategy intensified in comparison to its brief employment during the Revolutionary period, thanks to the manner in which Napoleonic France was perceived as an effective check against the Papacy. Finally, these sources demonstrate the extent to which pro-war writers employed apocalyptic imagery from the biblical Book of Revelation to bolster their denunciation of Great Britain, which they argued stood alongside the Catholic Church as one of the beasts of the Apocalypse.
© The Author
Penn, Nicole Marie, "Apocalypse Now: War and Religion in Late Colonial and Early Republic America" (2016). Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. William & Mary. Paper 1477068557.