The Church of England in the American Colonies was really not a single institution. Because no local bishop governed the church in America, falling as it did under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London, the clergy tended to have differing loyalties. Especially in the southern colonies, local vestries ruled the clergy because they controlled their stipends; therefore the clergy followed the lead of the local squirearchy and suppressed their personal views regarding independence. The New England Anglican clergy were equally in a difficult position. Midst the hostility of Puritanism and the Sons of Liberty, they seemed like an alien element. For that reason, they did not speak out either in defense of the revolution or against it. Only in the Mid-Atlantic colonies did an often vigorous debate ensure which involved Anglican clergy who either preached about the Revolution or published pamphlets—often anonymously—regarding colonial grievances. The stance they took was almost always related to how they saw themselves with regard to the colonies. This paper examines those clergymen through their sermons and writings to elucidate their response to the Revolution and the actions they subsequently took.

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