Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Arts in History
Jill Gill, Ph.D.
The Methodist Church’s support of the Mexican-American War arose from its commitment to the missionary endeavor and spreading the gospel. The self-imposed mission of the Methodists to evangelize the nations and their commitment to the United States war with Mexico cannot be understood without taking into account two other developments. Of first importance was the Church’s adoption of republicanism. By the 1840s, the Methodist Church accepted republicanism as the best form of human government and inextricably linked it to Protestant Christianity. Protestant (or biblical) Christianity was now not only necessary for salvation but was also a necessary component for political freedom, virtue, and economic prosperity. In effect, Christianity was the key to happiness in both this life and the next. The adoption of republicanism was joined by the second important factor—anti-Catholicism. Methodists portrayed Catholicism as hardly better than paganism and saw it as especially detrimental to human beings. The Catholic Church was portrayed as unbiblical and thus unable to produce the virtue needed to sustain a republican government. In addition, they claimed that Catholicism was inherently tyrannical and that its commitment to the union of church and state made it an especially powerful and dangerous enemy of biblical Christianity and political freedom. The Methodist Church came to see war as the only possible way to extend both the temporal and eternal benefits of Protestantism to the Mexican people.
Schleif, Luke Clay, "Missions, Republicanism, and Anti-Catholicism: the Ideological Origins of the Methodist Church’s Support for the Mexican-American War" (2012). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. 302.