Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Glenn T. Eskew - Chair

Second Advisor

Clifford M. Kuhn


Primarily focusing on his political career (1878-1894) and as an unofficial public figure after his retirement from formal politics (1895-1911), this study considers William J. Northen’s efforts in leading Georgia to the vague but resonant ideal of progress by analyzing his combination of religion and politics for social change, modern governance, and economic progress. After Reconstruction, urban middle-class southern Baptists like Northen began to realize the social problems of their civilization. Gradually, these reformers worked to expand their traditional mission of saving indivdual souls into a modern mission of saving the collective soul of society. Whereas personal, localized relationships customarily ordered southern society, under Northen, public policy and an increasingly coercive state informed by Christian princilpes of social outreach began to overtake the role of the individual.

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