Rude Hand of Innovation: Religion and Social Order in Albany, New York 1652-1836

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This path-breaking study analyzes the social and religious transformation of Albany, New York, from the town's colonial origins through industrialization in the early nineteenth century. Rather than see the transformation of traditional societies as a process of modernization, Hackett adopts a broader conception of religion as a cultural system and argues that culture influences social order differently in different historical periods. During most of Albany's colonial period, the Dutch townspeople absorbed British people and customs into their Calvinist way of life. Following the Revolution, large scale immigration, urbanization, and the initial spurt of an industrial economy transformed Albany into a bustling commercial center. At the same time new political and religious ideologies that disagreed among themselves yet together advocated economic growth, democracy, education, and individual rights, challenged and finally replaced Calvinism. Drawing on the resources of sociology, social history, and religion, this study illuminates not only the social history of Albany but also presents a new interpretation of the relationship between religion and social order in American history.

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