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Friends of the Unrighteous MammonNorthern Christians and Market Capitalism, 1815-1860$
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Stewart Davenport

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226137063

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226137087.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use (for details see www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 17 November 2018

Introduction: Self and Society in an American Modernity

Introduction: Self and Society in an American Modernity

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction: Self and Society in an American Modernity
Source:
Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226137087.003.0001

This book seeks to address a single question: what did Christians in America think about capitalism when capitalism was first something to be thought about? Lurking behind this question is one of the central paradoxes of American history: Americans are and always have been some of the most voluntarily religious people in the world as well as some of the most grossly materialistic. In other words, Americans simultaneously and paradoxically subscribe to both the Christian ethic of humility and selflessness, along with the American liberal-capitalist ethic of competition, success, and self-promotion. It is almost as if many Americans have gone about trying to understand themselves and their world with the Bible in one hand and John Locke in the other. Reconciling the two, however, has never been an easy task. One told them that “ye cannot serve God and mammon,” while the other unabashedly encouraged them to pursue lives of material happiness.

Keywords:   Christians, America, capitalism, Americans, humility, selflessness, Bible, John Locke, God, mammon

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