History/ES 247 Reading Guide

Radical Religion and Utopian Aspirations in Maine, 1783-1920

  • Stephen Marini, “Religious Revolution in the District of Maine, 1780-1820,” in Charles E. Clark et al., Maine in the Early Republic:  From Revolution to Statehood (1988), 118-145.  (e-reserve)
  • Jason Stone, “Till Shiloh Come,” Downeast 36 (March 1990), 44-48, 56.  (e-reserve)

Further reading:

  • David Raymond, “Echoes of a Distant Thunder?: The Unitarian Controversy in Maine, 1734-1833,” Maine History 46.1 (2011), 5-23.


The undercurrent of religion has run through many of sources that we have read and discussed, and it will continue to do so. Recall that, for Timothy Dwight, a congregational church, with appropriate architecture, was one of his primary measures of progress and improvement. Recall as well the Maine settlers and squatters in Alan Taylor’s study who turned away from the religious rationalism of orthodox Congregationalism and toward a visionary and indeed radical faith.

  • How were religious individualism, evangelicalism, and perfectionism a product of an agrarian population seeking a livelihood in a hard-scrabble, conflict-ridden environment during the early republic?  How and why did the message of religious radicalism resonate for those individuals?  What did it offer them?
  • How did radical religion shape their visions of community in that environment?
  • In what ways did the rise of the Holy Ghost and Us Bible School in Durham at the end of the nineteenth century resemble the earlier radical religious revival in Maine?  In what ways was Frank Sanford’s vision of a religious communal society a product of new tensions and concerns?


Old Shaker church

Old Shaker Church Built 1794—Central Dwelling Built 1883, Sabbathday Lake, Me.  (c. 1930)

Bible School, Shiloh

Bible School, Home of the Holy Ghosts and Us Society, Shiloh, Maine.  (c. 1949)

  • Hope to see you before long. Love,  Mrs. Basford
Old Orchard Camp Meeting

[Loyalty to Christ and His Word]  Camp Meeting at Camp Ground, Old Orchard, Me.  (c.1915)

  • Dear Mrs. Mc:—Here I am located for the summer. It is rather lonesome but will get over that soon.  Love,  Francis

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