Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


How the College Movement Changed the 19th Century Methodist clergy




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



I argue that one of the most important reason for the changing nature of American Methodism from a relatively anti-intellectual, emotional, primarly oral religious culture to one that was more refined, less emotional and much more based on the written word was because of the increasing number of college professors entering the clergy in the 1830s and 1840s. These professor/preachers exerted considerable influence on Methodism, especially in the West (current Midwest) where colleges and college educated people were rare. In my paper I will look at both Indiana University (Now DePauww) and Ohio Wesleyan and how they affected their respective Methodist Conferences. The professors were expected to be evangelists/preachers, but only a few were effective in that role. Despite some resistance from some of the older preachers who were skeptical of the value of a college education, the professor/preachers often rose in the ranks of the Methodist episcopacy and even became important figures in American political and intellecutal life, beyond the denominational community. I base my paper on the writings and contemporary biographies of these Methodist leaders, who include Matthew Simpson, John Evans, and William Larabee among their ranks.

Conference Name

Tennessee Conference of Historians

Conference Location

Lebanaon, Tennessee

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