The Kingdom of Matthias A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th-Century America

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 4/2/2012
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz brilliantly recapture the forgotten story of Matthias the Prophet, imbuing their richly researched account with the dramatic force of a novel. In the hands of Johnson and Wilentz, the strange tale of Matthias opens a fascinating window into the turbulent movements of the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening--movements that swept up great numbers of evangelical Americans and gave rise to new sects like the Mormons. Into this teeming environment walked a down-and-out carpenter named Robert Matthews, who announced himself as Matthias, prophet of the God of the Jews. His hypnotic personality drew in a cast of unforgettable characters--the meekly devout businessman Elijah Pierson, who once tried to raise his late wife from the dead; the young attractive Christian couple, Benjamin Folger and his wife Ann (who seduced the woman-hating Prophet); and the shrewd ex-slave Isabella Van Wagenen, regarded by some as "the most wicked of the wicked." None was more colorful than the Prophet himself, a bearded, thundering tyrant who gathered his followers into an absolutist household, using their money to buy an elaborate, eccentric wardrobe, and reordering their marital relations. By the time the tensions within the kingdom exploded into a clash with the law, Matthias had become a national scandal. "Written with the sweep and narrative drive of a best seller.... It has sex and sexual depravity, violence, murder, a courtroom drama, a media feeding frenzy, prostitution, lunacy, theft, religion (plenty of that), politics, social commentary, subtle humor, a fascinating if weird cast of characters, and a surprise ending." --Atlantic Monthly "The Kingdom of Matthiasis about marginality, fantasy, commerce, sex, and the soul's hunger, and the classically American combustion of all of the above.... A delicious and disturbing book." --Leon Wieseltier "As exciting as a novel...a wonderful book that will keep you up all night." --Katha Pollitt

Author Biography

Paul E, Johnson is Distingusied Professor of History Emeritus at hte University of South Carolona and is the author of numerous books, including Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper and A Shopkeeper's Millennium: society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837. Sean Wilentz is George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University. He is the author of Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1950 and The Rise American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, among other titles.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Two Prophets at Kirtlandp. 3
Eijah Piersonp. 13
Robert Matthewsp. 49
The Kingdomp. 91
The Downfallp. 127
Epiloguep. 165
Afterwordp. 181
A Note on Sourcesp. 193
Notesp. 197
Acknowledgmentsp. 233
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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