Patriots. Founding Fathers. Revolutionaries. For many Americans, the colonial heroes deserve special celebratory reverence. Yet while Washington's leadership, Franklin's writings, and Revere's ride captivate us, the inspiration and influence George Whitefield instilled within the revolutionary spirits of early Americans is regrettably unknown. In this refreshing biography, Jerome Dean Mahaffey deftly moves beyond Whitefield's colonial celebrity to show how his rhetoric and ministry worked for freedom, situating Whitefield alongside the most revolutionary founders. As this Anglican revivalist traveled among the colonies, he delivered exhilarating sermons deeply saturated with political implications--freedom from oppression, civil justice, communal cooperation. Whitefield helped to encourage in his listeners a longing for a new, uniquely American nationalism. The Accidental Revolutionary tells the story of this forgotten founder, who may not have realized the repercussions of his words as he spoke them. Now, Mahaffey delicately shows that Whitefield converted colonists not just to Christianity but to a renewed sense of unification that ultimately made possible the American Revolution.
Jerome Dean Mahaffey (Ph.D. University of Memphis) is Lecturer in the School of Communication at Northern Arizona University and the author of (Baylor University Press, 2011).
1. Beginnings 2. Launching the Ministry 3. A New Birth of Freedom 4. A Revolutionary Message 5. Controversy: "I'm just getting started" 6. Bishop Bashing 7. New England: Overthrow or Unify? 8. Between Two Extremes 9. Good King, Bad King 10. Church and State 11. France, Rome, and Hell 12. Reprisal from the Church of England 13. The Deep Laid Plot 14. Preaching Himself to Death 15. Whitefield's Legacy 16. A Political Man