This is the first book to explore the close and complex relationship between mapping and missionizing on the American frontier.
Moral Geography traces the development of a moral basis for American expansionism, as Protestant missionaries, using biblical language and metaphors, imaginatively conjoined the cultivation of souls with the cultivation of land and made space sacred. While the political implications of the mapping of American expansion have been much studied, this is the first major study of the close and complex relationship between mapping and missionizing on the American frontier. Moral Geography provides a fresh approach to understanding nineteenth-century Protestant home missions in Ohio's Western Reserve. Through the use of maps, letters, religious tracts, travel narratives, and geographical texts, Amy DeRogatis recovers the struggles of settlers, land surveyors, missionaries, and geographers as they sought to reconcile their hopes and expectations for a Promised Land with the realities of life on the early American frontier.
Introduction 1. The Benevolent Design: Mapping the Landscape 2. Models of Piety: Protestant Missionaries on the Frontier 3. The Moral Garden of the Western World: Bodies, Towns, and Families 4. Geography Made Easy: Geographies and Travel Literature 5. A Beacon in the Wilderness: Moral Inscriptions on the Landscape Conclusion: Moral Geography