The Nation's Mission: Social Movements and Nation-Building in the United States
AbstractLong after the American revolution, social movements played important roles in the development of the United States as a nation, helping to define and express identities that were both larger and smaller than the nation itself. Movements that were founded to advance certain goals — temperance, religious conversion, or the abolition of slavery — consciously helped to shape and define “Americanness” and therefore played an important role in constituting the nation itself. Movements inspired by Protestantism have been a particular force. To outsiders — immigrants, the irreligious, non-Protestants, or foreigners — American social movements sought to impose American civilization on peoples, lands, and nations outside their cultural or political domain, all justified as a mission sanctioned and supervised by God.