Pulpit, Press, and Politics: Methodists and the Market for Books in Upper Canada
When American Methodist preachers first arrived in Upper Canada in the 1790s, they brought with them more than an alluring religious faith. They also brought saddlebags stuffed with books published by the New York Methodist Book Concern – North America’s first denominational publisher – to sell along their preaching circuits. Pulpit, Press, and Politics traces the expansion of this remarkable transnational market from its earliest days to the mid-nineteenth century, a period of intense religious struggle in Upper Canada marked by fiery revivals, political betrayals, and bitter church schisms.
The Methodist Book Concern occupied a central place in all this conflict as it powerfully shaped and subverted the religious and political identities of Canadian Methodists, particularly in the wake of the American Revolution. The Concern bankrolled the bulk of Canadian Methodist preaching and missionary activities, enabled and constrained evangelistic efforts among the colony’s Native groups, and clouded Methodist dealings with the British Wesleyans and other religious competitors north of the border. Even more importantly, as Methodists went on to assume a preeminent place in Upper Canada’s religious, cultural, and educational life, their ongoing reliance on the Methodist Book Concern played a crucial role in opening the way for the lasting acceptance and widespread use of American books and periodicals across the region.
- Series: Studies in Book and Print Culture
- World Rights
- Page Count: 264 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.1in
Reviews“Through an innovative emphasis on print culture, Pulpit, Press, and Politics demonstrates that American influences had a far more substantial and enduring impact on the history of Upper Canadian Methodism than scholars have previously acknowledged. Scott McLaren is to be commended for his contribution to the study of this particular denomination and, indeed, the larger Protestant tradition of which it is an important part.”
Canadian Historical Review
“Scott McLaren brings to life the often-vexed relationship among the Canadian, American, and British Methodists. He also does a fine job of exploring the roles of the largely Anglican Upper Canadian political establishment and their reformer opponents in shaping the larger provincial context of the story he is telling. McLaren’s pen portraits of figures like Egerton Ryerson, John Strachan, and William Lyon Mackenzie will be enjoyed by academics and non-academics alike.”
Todd Webb, Department of History, Laurentian University
"McLaren’s work is an important contribution to Canadian religious book history. It offers important insights into the role of books and print culture in defining and strengthening Upper Canadian Methodism. McLaren’s careful analysis of the contested transnational and transatlantic worlds of book publishing and sales reveals the significant ways that literary culture shaped religious and political identities and gave rise to a unique space for Canadian publishing."
Robynne Rogers Healey, Department of History, Trinity Western University
Author InformationScott McLaren is a faculty member in the graduate programs in Humanities and History and an associate librarian at York University.
Table of contents
Introduction: “Reading the Most Useful Books”
1. “What a Boon Were These Publications”: Buying and Selling Methodist Books in Early Upper Canada
2. “Rekindling the Canada Fire”: Books, Periodicals, and the Revival of Methodism after the War of 1812
3. “Rancorous Calumnies and Abuse”: Contending for Methodism in Print
4. “Schemes and Evils of Divisions”: Denominational Identities and the Public Market for Books
5. “We Saw That All Was Gone”: A Failed Claim and a Failing Union
6. “Their Own Book Concern”: A Methodist Book Market for All Upper Canadians
Conclusion: “Making our Methodist Book Room a Cultural Mecca for Canada”
Subjects and Courses