Date of Award

12-18-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Reiner Smolinski

Second Advisor

Paul Schmidt

Third Advisor

Malinda Snow

Abstract

In 1784, Ethan Allen (1738-1789), the leader of the Green Mountain Boys and legendary Revolutionary War hero, and his friend Thomas Young (1731-1777) published Reason the only Oracle of Man. In their opus, America’s premier text formally introducing Deism, Allen and Young systematically dismantle the ecclesiastical foundations of New England by specifically targeting the undemocratic principles of the Congregational Church. Allen and Young wrote Reason as a revolt against the encroaching ecclesiastical domination. The duo focused upon many topics central to the European Enlightenment: substance and matter, formation versus creation, immortality, the soul, the nature and motives of prophecy, and time and eternity. Thomas Young, a student of deism, mentored a teenage Allen and instilled in him a distinctly British ideology (one based on the writings of Charles Blount and John Locke) that, paired with Allen’s upbringing in an anti-Calvinist home, materialized into America’s premier deist text.

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