Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction
Kathryn Gin Lum
Reviews and Awards
"This fascinating, original, beautifully written account deals with how ministers formulated threats of Hell and how lay people responded. We read a multitude of introspections by men and women of every race and social station, Christian and non-Christian, sometimes leading them to belief in Hell, sometimes to its rejection. Throughout, the author takes the debate over Hell seriously. Her concluding section applies her analyses to the slavery controversy and the Civil War." - Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
"Damned Nation is damned good and its contributions are legion. We enter American labyrinths where fears of hellfire singed souls and heated political discord in the early republic. We encounter abolitionists who damned the souls of black folk in order to free their bodies. We witness leaders and laity bickering as if rehearsing the conclave of fallen angels that began John Miltons Paradise Lost. And we march into a Civil War where the destruction drove new approaches to damnation. This book signals a new and evocative voice in the realm of American religious history, one that is not afraid to entertain its dark sides." - Edward J. Blum, co-author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America.
"In this brilliant reassessment, Kathryn Gin Lum shows that the idea of hell, far from withering away under the weight of Enlightenment rationalism, was a fixture of the antebellum religious marketplacea doctrine calculated to win converts both through attraction and aversion. Americans took the notion of eternal hell torments with deadly seriousness, and Gin Lum reveals just how central the doctrine was. An essential and compelling account." - Peter J. Thuesen, author of Predestination: The American Career of a Contentious Doctrine.