“[M]ingle with Us as Americans”: Religious Pluralism after the Founding
The conclusion delineates the 19th-century boundaries of American religious pluralism. Those limits emerged most clearly in the persistence of anti-Semitism, the violence inflicted upon Mormons in western New York, Illinois, and Missouri, and the vitriolic common school debates of 1840 and 1841, which pitted New York’s Roman Catholic leaders against the Protestant-dominated Public School Society. In the case of the Mormons and the Catholics, especially, the 18th-century formula of equal rights for private worship and public inclusion failed. Anonymous living in the increasingly populous cities and the vast expanses of cheap land in the west allowed religious groups to avoid integration. Meanwhile, the continued dominance of Calvinist Protestantism made such isolation attractive. Yet, an important precedent had already been set. The success that early Americans had in maintaining civil peace and encouraging cooperative endeavors between different religious groups provided a reassuring template for future encounters with diversity.
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