Faculty Book: Kathleen McCarthy
American Creed: Philanthropy and the Rise of Civil Society 1700-1865
(University of Chicago Press, 2003; 319 pp.)
The first historical account of the development of civil society in the United States, American Creed by Kathleen McCarthy shows how democracy was linked with philanthropy and voluntarism throughout our nation's beginnings. The volume traces the rise of such activism from its colonial precedents—including Benjamin Franklin's "Leather Apron Men," a group of civic leaders, and Franklin's own charitable giving—to the emergence of important women's charities for the sick and poor, to religious benevolent societies, to Northern black congregations—such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church—that played a crucial role in organizing abolitionist activities. Following the "creed" of civic duty through its many tests, McCarthy provides a vital reevaluation of public life during the decades leading up to the Civil War. She is professor of history at The Graduate Center and director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.
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Submitted on: MAY 15, 2003