Often, religious thought in early America is simply equated with the severe Puritanism of Cotton Mather, or it is assumed to be some other product of European church life imported to North America. Yet, by the middle of the nineteenth century, theology in the United States had shifted dramatically away from European traditions associated with the Reformation and had become distinctively American. In this book, Mark Noll has provided a masterly account of this translation and what it signified for the meaning of Christian theology itself. In the decades preceding the outbreak of the Civil War, American theologians mastered the conceptual languages of republican political thought and commonsense moral reasoning. Because religious thinkers learned to speak these languages so well, Christian theology came to play an extraordinarily important role in American public life. Theology contributed profoundly to the new nation's self-definition and in turn, American ideologies exerted a profound impact on religion. Public thought and religious thought moved together, with a stress on individual freedom, a new confidence in intuitive reasoning capacity, and attention to the market realities of the opening American economy. By setting the era's leading religious figures in their broader political, intellectual, and social contexts, Noll is able to offer fresh interpretations of the era's most significant theologians like Jonathan Edwards, Nathaniel W. Taylor, William Ellery Channing, and Charles Hodge, as well as important lay religious thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catherine Beecher, and Abraham Lincoln.