The kingdom of Matthias / Paul E. Johnson and Sean Wilentz.

By: Johnson, Paul E, 1942-Contributor(s): Wilentz, SeanMaterial type: TextTextPublisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 1995Edition: 1st Oxford University Press pbkDescription: xi, 222 p. : ill., maps ; 21 cmISBN: 0195098358 (pbk.); 9780195098358 (pbk.)Subject(s): Matthews, Robert, b. 1788 | Kingdom of Matthias (Cult) -- Biography | Kingdom of Matthias (Cult) -- History | Impostors and imposture -- New York (State) -- History -- 19th century | Sex customs -- New York (State) -- History -- 19th century | Cults -- New York (State) -- History -- 19th century | Truth, Sojourner, d. 1883 | Sects History | United StatesDDC classification: 277.3081092 LOC classification: BR1718.M3 | J64 1995Other classification: BE 9250 | BG 9710 | BG 9720 | HD 475 | LB 46610
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Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
BR1718.M3 J64 1995 (Browse shelf) Available 0000002186971
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
BR1718.M3 J64 1995 (Browse shelf) Available 0000001736503

Includes bibliographical references (p. 181-220).

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

In the 1830s in New York, Robert Matthews proclaimed himself to be the prophet Matthias. He became the center of a communal, patriarchal cult, in which his fanatical fervor captivated many respectable people. Economic and sexual surrender were demanded in patterns familiar to us from Jonestown and Waco. Matthias was eventually tried for the murder of a follower. Historians Johnson (Univ. of Utah) and Wilentz (Princeton Univ.) present a highly readable and well-researched examination of this forgotten figure of the Second Great Awakening in American religious history. Matthias is presented effectively against the backdrop of his social and economic times and brought vividly to life. Recommended for public and academic libraries with reader interest.-- C. Robert Nixon, MLS, Lafayette, Ind. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Sensational crimes of a bygone era offer a window into the normally obscure lives of the nonelite. In this study Johnson (Univ. of Utah) and Wilentz (Princeton Univ.) examine a New York religious cult of the 1830s whose leader, a journeyman carpenter turned prophet of God, obtained influence over several urban businessmen affected by religious perfectionism. Using their money, the prophet established an authoritarian, misogynist household recalling the patriarchy of the preindustrial world. The kingdom collapsed when the prophet was charged with poisoning one of his followers. Although the narrative reveals more about abnormal psychology than the average person's response to cultural and economic change, the authors have written an admirably lucid account, from contradictory and self-serving sources, of an event that caught the imagination of many 19th-century Americans. Still intriguing because of parallels to modern day cults and suggestions about the American psyche as well as for its revelations about its own era, the prophet's story should appeal to a wide variety of educated readers. Appropriate for both academic and public libraries. P. F. Field; Ohio University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Robert sean Wilentz was born in 1951 in New York City. He earned his first B.A. from Colunbia University in 1972 and his second from Oxford University in 1974 on a Kellett Fellowship. He continued his education at Yale University where he earned his M.A. degree in 1975 and his PhD. in 1980. His writings are focused on the importance of class and race in the early national period. He has also co-authored books on nineteenth-century religion and working class life. His book The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, won the Bancroft Prize. He has also written about modern U.S. history in his book, The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008. He has been the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of History at Princeton University since 1979. Robert Wilentz is also a contributing editor at The New Republic. He writes on music, the arts, history and politics. He received a Grammy nomination and a 2005 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for musical commentary on the musician Bob Dylan.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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