Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  David B. Chesebrough  

Pen Name: None

Genre:

Born: 1925 in Rushville, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

David Chesebrough was a professor of History at Illinois State University.

Biographical and Professional Information

David Chesebrough was a pastor in the American Baptist Church for 25 years before becoming a professor of American History at Illinois State University. He was at Illinois State for fifteen years. While there he taught courses on American History, Philosophy, and Religious History, among other topics. He lectured across the country and wrote seven books. He specialized in religious history, specifically sermons. He was a member of the American History Society, Illinois Historical Society, the McLean County Historical Society, and the Southern Historical Society. He was researching the life and career of Bloomington newspaper editor Edward J. Lewis when he died.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

God Ordained This War: Sermons on the Sectional Crisis, 1830-1865
ISBN: 0872497534

Univ of South Carolina Pr. 1991

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No Sorrow Like Our Sorrow: Northern Protestant Ministers and the Assassination of Lincoln
ISBN: 0873384911

The Kent State University Press. 1994

Sermons as historical documents reflect the thoughts, emotions, values, prejudices, and beliefs of their time.

“The more popular a preacher, the more likely it is that she or he mirrors the hopes and fears of a significant number of people,” explains David B. Chesebrough in “No Sorrow like Our Sorrow.” His analysis of more than 300 sermons delivered in a seven-week period following Lincoln’s assassination (April 16-June 1, 1865) examines the influence of religious leaders on public opinion and policy during that turbulent period.

In the days and weeks following the assassination, Americans flocked to churches in record numbers, seeking comfort, guidance, perspective, or an adequate expression of their own grief.

Hundreds, sometimes thousands, had to be turned away.

In the sermons they heard or read Chesebrough finds five major themes:

the preachers expressed the grief they and their congregations experienced

praised the accomplishments and character of the slain president

blamed the South and the institution of slavery for the murder

demanded harsh justice upon the South, emphasizing rage, hatred, and revenge over forgiveness or conciliation

and fostered the perception of the assassination as providential.

The prevalence of these themes illustrates the vital role played by Northern Protestant ministers in immortalizing Lincoln, formulating harsh Reconstruction policies toward the South, and promoting the postwar conservatism whereby institutionalism, nationalism, and conformity replaced civil disobedience and nonconformity.

Readers interested in America’s religious history and the influence of religion on American culture and society, as well as students of the Civil War and Reconstruction, will appreciate Chesebrough’s thought-provoking analysis.

Clergy Dissent in the Old South, 1830 - 1865
ISBN: 0809320800

Southern Illinois University Press. 1996

Emphasizing the courage required and the cost of dissent before and throughout the Civil War, David B. Chesebrough identifies dissenters among the southern clergy, tells their stories, and discusses the issues that caused these Christians to split from the majority

After an opening chapter in which he provides an overview of the role of the southern clergy in the antebellum and war years, Chesebrough turns to the South’s efforts to present a united proslavery front from 1830 to 1861. Clergy who could not support the "peculiar institution" kept silent, moved to the North, or suffered various consequences for their nonconformity.

Chesebrough then deals with the war years (1861–1865), when opposition to secession and the war was regarded as much more serious than opposition to slavery had been. Some members of the clergy who formally supported and justified slavery could not support secession and war. This was a dangerous stance, sometimes carrying a death sentence.

The final chapter, "The Creative Minority" stresses the important societal role of dissenters, who, history shows, often perceive events more clearly than the majority.

The dissenters Chesebrough discusses include John H. Aughey, a Presbyterian evangelist from Mississippi who was imprisoned and sentenced to death for his opposition to secession

William G. Brownlow, a Methodist cleric and newspaper publisher who, though he later became governor of Tennessee, was imprisoned and forced to leave the state because of his opposition to secession and the Civil War

John Gregg Fee, the founder of Berea College in Kentucky, who was denounced by his family and forced to leave the state because of his abolitionist views

and Melinda Rankin, a Presbyterian missionary worker in Brownsville, Texas, who was dismissed from her teaching responsibilities because of alleged northern sympathies.

Frederick Douglass: Oratory from Slavery (Great American Orators)
ISBN: 0313302871

Greenwood. 1998

Frederick Douglass, once a slave, was one of the great 19th century American orators and the most important African American voice of his era. This book traces the development of his rhetorical skills, discusses the effect of his oratory on his contemporaries, and analyzes the specific oratorical techniques he employed.

The first part is a biographical sketch of Douglass's life, dealing with his years of slavery (1818-1837), his prewar years of freedom (1837-1861), the Civil War (1861-1865), and postwar years (1865-1895). Chesebrough emphasizes the centrality of oratory to Douglass's life, even during the years in slavery. The second part looks at his oratorical techniques and concludes with three speeches from different periods. Students and scholars of communications, U.S. history, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and African American studies will be interested in this book.

Theodore Parker: Orator of Superior Ideas (Great American Orators)
ISBN: 031330873X

Greenwood. 1999

Theodore Parker, a great orator of the mid-19th century, was a Unitarian clergyman who directed much of his oratory towards ecclesiastical and social reform. Parker challenged slavery and other social ills. As a volume in the Great American Orators series, the focus is on Parker's oratory and its effect on theology and the social structures of the mid-19th century. Biographical information pertains to those aspects of Parker's life that influenced and shaped his elocution and ideas. Parker's rhetoric and rhetorical techniques are examined. Three of Parker's important speeches are included, each with an introduction that places it in its proper context.

This study will appeal to students of rhetoric, theology, and mid-nineteenth-century American religious history. The book is divided into two sections. The first concentrates on Parker's life, his role as an abolitionist, social reformer, and public order. Part Two scrutinizes three of Parker's most famous discourses. The author establishes Parker's place among mid-19th-century preachers.

Phillips Brooks: Pulpit Eloquence (Great American Orators)
ISBN: 0313313741

Greenwood. 2001

Phillips Brooks, author of the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem, was the rector of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Boston for 22 years and the Bishop of Massachusetts for 15 months until his death in 1893. This volume in the Great American Orators series focuses on Brooks' oratorical style and the public's response to his rhetoric. Chesebrough provides a biographical sketch of Brooks' life emphasizing the development and use of his oratorical skills and placing him within the secular and ecclesiastical contexts of his times. Attention is given to Brooks' development as a public speaker and to his manner of sermon preparation and delivery. Three of Brooks' sermons are printed in their entirety: Abraham Lincoln, The Cradle of the Lord, and Help from the Hills, preceded by introductory remarks and a brief analysis of the sermon. This examination of Brooks' rhetoric will appeal to scholars of rhetoric and of American theology and American religious history, especially Episcopal history.

Charles G. Finney: Revivalistic Rhetoric (Great American Orators)
ISBN: 0313318131

Greenwood. 2001

Though much has been written about Charles Finney, The Father of Modern Revivalism, most works have concentrated on his roles as an educator and political reformer. In this new study, Chesebrough examines the rhetorical skills and techniques that made Finney the first contemporary evangelist, one whose methods are still practiced today. A major force in many social reform movements of his time, most notably abolitionism, Finney introduced techniques to revivalist preaching that he used toward politically sophisticated ends. Chesebrough explores both his rhetoric and the effect it had on Finney's audiences, as well as the controversy this major figure often provoked.

Following a survey of Finney's life, with special attention given to those aspects pertaining to the development of his oratory, Chesebrough considers the themes of Finney's sermons and lectures on both religious and political subjects. A third section details the rhetorical devices he introduced and employed, and the volume concludes with three of Finney's actual sermons, which reveal the ways in which this speaker commanded the attention of his audiences.


Awards

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