A Shopkeeper's Millennium Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837

Paul E. Johnson; With a New Preface by the Author

Hill and Wang



Trade Paperback

240 Pages



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A quarter-century after its first publication, A Shopkeeper's Millennium remains a landmark work—brilliant both as a new interpretation of the intimate connections among politics, economy, and religion during the Second Great Awakening, and as a surprising portrait of a rapidly growing frontier city.

The religious revival that transformed America in the 1820s, making it the most militantly Protestant nation on earth and spawning reform movements dedicated to temperance and to the abolition of slavery, had an especially powerful effect in Rochester, New York. Johnson explores the reasons for this nationwide revival's spectacular success there, suggesting important links between its moral accounting and the city's new industrial world. In a new preface, he reassesses the evidence and conclusions of this major work.


Praise for A Shopkeeper's Millennium

"Intriguing and provocative . . . [A] clever and gracefully written book."—Joan Jacobs Brumberg, New York History

"A path-breaking work. The author has demonstrated with empirical evidence what other historians have merely asserted: that religion in general and revivals in particular served to ease the pains of capitalist expansion in early-nineteenth-century America. Through an imaginative use of both quantitative and literary material . . . Johnson has made a quantum leap in the social history of American religion."—Jama Lazerow, Journal of Social History

"Johnson's book is indispensable for any understanding of the evangelical revival and related reform movements in New York's 'burned-over district.' No less important, Professor Johnson has brilliantly fused the quantitative methods of the 'new social history' with a sparkling style and an imaginative reconstruction of social reality. Both in substantive conclusions and as a model for future regional studies, A Shopkeeper's Millennium is one of the freshest and most exciting books I have read in the past few years."—David Brion Davis, Yale University

"This is far more than a study of local history, and more even than a provocative interpretation of the social sources of religious revivalism. It is a brilliant pioneering assault upon the most important unaddressed problem in American historiography—how our society and very personalities were transformed by the rapid advance of the capitalist market in the earlier twentieth century."—Charles Sellers, University of California, Berkeley

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Read an Excerpt

A Shopkeeper's Millennium

CHARLES FINNEY came to Rochester via the Erie Canal in the autumn of 1830. The route from Albany took him through the Mohawk Valley, then onto the broad plain that forms...



  • Paul E. Johnson; With a New Preface by the Author

  • Paul E. Johnson, professor of history at the University of South Carolina, is also the author of Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper and co-author, with Sean Wilentz, of The Kingdom of Matthias.