Piscatorial Protestants: Angling, Religion, and Nature in Nineteenth-Century America

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Albert Brenton Lane (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Timothy Silver

Abstract: This thesis focuses on philosophies of George Washington Bethune, Henry Ward Beecher, and Henry Van Dyke, ministers who championed angling as a method to reconcile human nature with the natural world. On the heels of European Enlightenment, nineteenth-century American intellectualism dramatically changed popular opinions of the wilderness, and Puritan perspectives of sinister wilderness gave way to idyllic, transcendental experiences in nature. In both practice and literature, angling exploded in popularity among Protestant ministers throughout the nineteenth century, and the pursuit of fish in New England backwoods became a conduit to nature’s God. Angling offered the opportunity to actually become part of the natural setting. The rush of the river, intense study of fish patterns and habitat, and the stress-free nature of the “gentle art” offered spiritual renewal for the troubled soul of modern man. Despite the rise of Transcendentalism, many clergymen anglers remained dogmatically Christian and presented various biblical and moral defenses of the sport. They likewise waxed eloquent on the restorative powers of nature through angling, and effectively laid the foundation for a new Christian environmental ethic.

Additional Information

Lane, A.B. (2012). Piscatorial Protestants: Angling, Religion, and Nature in Nineteenth-Century America. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2012
Angling , Nature, G. W. Bethune, H. W. Beecher, H. Van Dyke

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