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Religion and American PoliticsFrom the Colonial Period to the Present$
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Mark A. Noll and Luke E. Harlow

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195317145

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195317145.001.0001

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Ethnoreligious Political Behavior in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: Voting, Values, Cultures

Ethnoreligious Political Behavior in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: Voting, Values, Cultures

Chapter:
(p.144) (p.145) 7 Ethnoreligious Political Behavior in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: Voting, Values, Cultures
Source:
Religion and American Politics
Author(s):

Robert P. Swierenga

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195317145.003.0008

Using the techniques of statistical analysis, this chapter presents in accessible general terms the results of exacting quantifiable research into the complex, but regular, connections among voting, party affiliation, and religious allegiance. In large part, these connections characterized American politics from 1828 through the 1896 contest between William McKinley (a devout, Bible-reading Methodist friend of business) and William Jennings Bryan (a devout, Bible-reading Presbyterian populist). The chapter summarizes the accumulated evidence in support of the thesis that religion was the salient factor in nineteenth-century voting behavior. How and why religion was at the center is extremely complex, as are the related issues of documentation and measurement. There were also regional and temporal variations in the role of religion in politics. Nevertheless, despite its limitations, a theological interpretation of voting behavior offers a refreshing new angle to the understanding of political culture in the eras of Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln.

Keywords:   party affiliation, religious allegiance, American politics, William Jennings Bryan, William McKinley, Abraham Lincoln

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