Honorable Decisions: Clerical Loyalty during the American Revolution
The American Revolution forced colonists to make important decisions about their political loyalties that influenced every aspect of their lives. This was especially true for the clergy, who often struggled to both protect their flocks from the ravages of war while upholding their religious beliefs. This thesis traces the political and religious decisions of three such clergymen--Samuel Seabury, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, and Robert Smith--from the 1760's through the close of the war and uncovers the role 'honor' played in these men's decision-making process. Honor was a constantly evolving, but also a constantly important virtue, whose increasingly political nature challenged these religious men as the war approached. Unlike historical arguments which emphasize that denomination determined political loyalty, this study seeks to show how varying perceptions of honor could create a patriotic Anglican, a hesitant Lutheran and a Loyalist Anglican from three devout colonists.