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Perfection and the Antebellum Urban Evangelical Woman

Perfection and the Antebellum Urban Evangelical Woman

(p.181) Chapter Six Perfection and the Antebellum Urban Evangelical Woman
Evangelical Gotham
Kyle B. Roberts
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on Phoebe Worrall Palmer, one of one of Evangelical Gotham's most influential theologians, writers, and revivalists in the mid-nineteenth century. Palmer was studiously plain in all aspects of appearance and life. She was quiet and reserved; proffered a rational and biblical theology of perfection; advocated reform as an instrument for the betterment of the self; and crafted a ministry in response to the conventions, currents, and institutions of antebellum urban evangelicalism. Although Palmer has been largely forgotten today, her theology of perfection, intimately shaped by her experience of antebellum New York, shifted urban evangelicals' focus from their communities back to their individual spiritual selves. Her ideas changed the tide of evangelicalism in the tumultuous years between the recovery from the Panic of 1837 and the onset of the Civil War.

Keywords:   Phoebe Worrall Palmer, evangelical women, New York City, urban evangelicalism, evangelicals

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