Continuing our roundtable exploring the bicentennial legacy of the Era of Good Feelings, today’s post is by Emily Conroy-Krutz, assistant professor of history at Michigan State University and the author of Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic (Cornell, 2015). You can find out more about her work at her website, emilyconroykrutz.com.
At a Congregational Church in Bennington, Vermont, things were not going well for Rev. Edward Hooker. His Missionary Monthly Concert sermons were disappointing. No matter how hard he worked, the congregation did not seem to grasp his central message.
He decided to try something new. A large wooden board, painted white, with a ring at the top, by which it could be suspended. A jar of India Ink, into which he dipped a feather to trace out the bold, strong lines of continents and national borders. The completed map was raised up above the pulpit, ready for him to point to with a staff, showing his congregation the places to which he was referring, giving them food for the eyes and not just for the ears. A map, the pastor hoped, would make all the difference.