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