A Measure of Success

Protestants and Public Culture in Antebellum Cleveland

By Michael J. McTighe

Subjects: Social And Cultural History
Paperback : 9780791418260, 283 pages, March 1994
Hardcover : 9780791418253, 283 pages, March 1994

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Table of contents

List of Tables


Supplemental Acknowledgments

Part One. Protestants and Public Culture

1. Reverend Pickands, the Bridge War, and the Public Culture

2. The Emerald City of the Lakes

3. The Contests Within the Contest: Defining and Mobilizing the Protestant Community

Part Two. Vying for Power

4. Anointing the Commercial Economy

5. Benevolence and the Establishment of an Ethos of Obligation

6. Temperance: The Cold Water Army Tastes Defeat

7. Cowardly Castles?: Protestant Involvement in Antislavery Debates

8. Rituals of Community Life

Part Three. A Measure of Success

9. A Substantial but Eroding Presence






This book examines the role Protestants played in the formation of the public culture of antebellum Cleveland, a developing commercial city typical of many cities throughout the Midwest. The author analyzes the extent to which, and the way in which, Protestants were able to exercise power in the city, concluding that they achieved a measure of success during the years 1836 to 1860, after which their power began to erode. As a framework for this analysis, he develops a methodology for measuring the success, or influence, of religion in a particular society.

By focusing on the public culture, this book encompasses both the formal and informal uses of power and the public, quasi-public, and private activities of Protestants. This allows for a discussion of a broader spectrum of culture-shaping activity than is usually included in studies of religion and society, including an examination of contests within the Protestant community over identity and commitments and attitudes toward economic development, benevolent work, temperance agitation, antislavery campaigns, participation in civic rituals, and the social bases of Protestant influence.

Michael J. McTighe was Associate Professor in the Religion Department at Gettysburg College.


"A Measure of Success addresses topics relevant to a broad range of academic interests—urban history, women's studies, political history, ethnic history, social history, religious history. The author is at his best when noting the tensions and ambiguities within Protestants' thoughts toward issues such as commercial development, temperance, and antislavery." — Robert J. Kolesar, John Carroll University

"This book is well-researched, intelligently argued, and clearly written. It offers a broad interpretation of power and authority by using the concept of 'public culture,' a concept that allows the author to explore in a rich and nuanced fashion the overlap between the public and private spheres." — Kenneth Fones-Wolf, West Virginia University