Reverend Joseph Tarkington, Methodist Circuit Rider: From Frontier Evangelism to Refined Religion

David L. Kimbrough




Univ of Tennessee Pr

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Tracing the rise in fortunes of a Methodist minister in nineteenth-century Indiana, this book presents a vivid and revealing picture of the political, social, and religious culture of that place and era. Born in Nashville in 1800, Tarkington experienced an early life of harshness and deprivation, the common lot of pioneer farming families. Disdainful of slavery, the Tarkingtons eventually left Tennessee for Indiana, where they settled in Monroe County in 1817. Joseph underwent a religious conversion at a camp meeting in 1820 and joined the Methodists shortly thereafter. He became a circuit-riding preacher whose pay, in his first year, for ministering to congregations in five counties consisted of nine dollars and a new pair of trousers. Despite the hardships he endured, Tarkington found the ministry to be a pathway to respectability and, ultimately, relative affluence. His rise in the Methodist Church paralleled that of the denomination itself: from an "old-time", evangelistic religion appealing largely to the untutored, Methodism readily accommodated itself to the society's transformations, thereby achieving "respectability" and expanding its membership and influence. Joseph Tarkington's story offers invaluable insights into the history of Methodism - much neglected in the study of American religion - as well as into many of the key issues that faced the nineteenth-century United States: slavery, social reform, education, and political leadership.

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Other editions: Softcover - 2002, Softcover - 1995, Hardcover - 1995

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