ABSTRACT

There is such a place as the United States. It has a history. It is situated in North America, between two oceans, bordered by other nations, in a part of the world that includes another large land mass, South America, to which it is connected by a region known as Central America. The trajectories of United States history—the pathways by which past events shape the present—are both long and short, some well-known for generations, others recently identified, others still to be discovered. As we study the nation’s religious past, we should bear in mind that historical investigation is an ongoing project, and that we are always in the process of interpreting the manner in which events have shaped the course of history. Just as the nation itself has changed over time, so have our conceptions of it.