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American Heathens

Religion, Race, and Reconstruction in California

Joshua Paddison (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 278 pages
ISBN: 9780873282444
June 2012
$47.95, £32.95
In the 19th-century debate over whether the United States should be an explicitly Christian nation, California emerged as a central battleground. Racial groups that were perceived as godless and uncivilized were excluded from suffrage, and evangelism among Indians and the Chinese was seen as a politically incendiary act. Joshua Paddison sheds light on Reconstruction’s impact on Indians and Asian Americans by illustrating how marginalized groups fought for a political voice, refuting racist assumptions with their lives, words, and faith. Reconstruction, he argues, was not merely a remaking of the South, but rather a multiracial and multiregional process of reimagining the nation.
Joshua Paddison is an American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellow in the American Studies Program and the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University.
“[Paddison’s] work represents a major contribution to our understanding of an era of American history. . . . [An] important contribution to the study of California, the West, and the United States.”—Daniel Lynch Southern California Quarterly
“Wonderful. . . . A refreshing new take on the postbellum years. . . . Paddison’s nuanced treatment of the entanglement of race and religion in the political questions of postbellum California is a model for the rest of us.”—Quincy D. Newell Religion In The American West
"Sharp and clear. . . . There is something here for a wide range of readers."—Jeff Wilson Church History
"Impressive and provocative. . . . [An] engrossing tapestry of complex racialized histories."—Najia Aarim-Heriot Journal of American History
"[A] deeply illuminating volume."—Robert G. Lee American Historical Review
"Solidly researched and well written, a major contribution to the historiography of racism in America."—Abraham Hoffman Journal of the West
“A must read not just for historians of race, religion, and Reconstruction, but also for anyone interested in the religious politics of multiculturalism. Widely and meticulously researched, Paddison’s study helps demolish the assumption that Reconstruction was solely an East Coast, white-black affair."--Edward J. Blum, San Diego State University

“Paddison resurrects the forgotten campaigns of Protestant reformers to bring Indians and Chinese into the tent of American citizenship, campaigns which boldly asserted the value of human universalism over the doctrine of Christian white male supremacy. California was the worse for their failure, and so—Paddison suggests—was the nation."--Josh Sides, California State University, Northridge

American Heathens . . . places California and religion at the center of the national histories of Reconstruction and citizenship in the United States. It illustrates how competing visions of Christianity shaped formulations of race, and how religion influenced federal Indian policy. Its exploration of Chinese Christians and clergy is especially significant to Asian American history.”--Lawrence Culver, Utah State University

“Comfortably using the new methodological synthesis of social, cultural, and political history, Paddison sets out to reframe the standard narrative of Reconstruction, focusing our attention on California. American Heathens is . . . also a great local history, brought to life by a series of fascinating preachers, sojourners, and rabble-rousers."--Matthew Pratt Guterl, Indiana University

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