Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family

Oxford Univ. Feb. 2019. 288p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190882587. $34.95. HIST
Georgini (series editor, The Papers of John Adams) researched seven generations of the Adams family for this religious history—from John Adams's great-grandparents who emigrated from England in 1638 to his youngest great-grandson, Brooks Adams (d. 1927). She reveals how American Protestant Christianity was integral to the founding and preservation of the republic and defines the family's lives as public servants struggling to reconcile the purposes of religion and government. Family characteristics included nonconformity, skepticism, religious experimentation, and an emphasis on practice above dogma. Their religious beliefs evolved during the socially and politically unsettled 1800s, both mirroring and influencing trends in American religious and national identity. Divine Providence helped Unitarians John Adams and Charles Quincy explain and cope with personal and national events. Great-grandson Henry, however, shunned religion, and his skeptical brother Brooks returned to Unitarianism but later converted to Catholicism.
VERDICT This concise, well-written history helps address the role that Protestant Christianity played in guiding and shaping the Adams family and the country they served.

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