These opening pages introduce the reader to the figure of William Bentley, to the physical and ecclesiastical structure of Salem, and to the central place of religiosity within the bustling economic life of the town. They also gesture at the importance of Bentley—and thus this book—in understanding the social implications of the American Revolution, the ideological consequences not only of liberal Christianity but also of its other versions, the complicated interactions between religion and politics in late 18th‐century New England, and most importantly the means by which men and women tried to reconcile their faith to the new imperatives of the Enlightenment.
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