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John Calvin's American Legacy$
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Thomas Davis

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195390971

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390971.001.0001

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Geneva’s Crystalline Clarity: Harriet Beecher Stowe and Max Weber on Calvinism and the American Character

Geneva’s Crystalline Clarity: Harriet Beecher Stowe and Max Weber on Calvinism and the American Character

Chapter:
(p.219) 9 Geneva’s Crystalline Clarity: Harriet Beecher Stowe and Max Weber on Calvinism and the American Character
Source:
John Calvin's American Legacy
Author(s):

Peter J. Thuesen (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390971.003.0009

In June 1853, Harriet Beecher Stowe, exhausted from a triumphant publicity tour in England for her antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, crossed the English Channel for a few weeks of leisure travel on the Continent. One of her first stops was Geneva, which afforded her the chance to reflect on Calvin and his legacy in Western culture. Gazing on the view of Mont Blanc from the city, she wrote: "Calvinism, in its essential features, will never cease from the earth, because the great fundamental facts of nature are Calvinistic, and men with strong minds and wills always discover it." It was a striking statement, given her otherwise tortured relationship to her New England Puritan heritage, but it signaled a theme she would later develop in her fiction in ways that anticipated the arguments of Max Weber a half century later in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. This chapter will explore this incident and its ramifications.

Keywords:   John Calvin, Calvinism, Puritanism, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Max Weber, tradition, Protestant ethic, capitalism

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