'We were very much surprised at their worship': American girls and religious tourism in the early republic, 1780-1835

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following the Revolution, the United States formally embraced the ideal and practice of religious freedom. But how was this ideal instilled and practiced? Could a form of pilgrimage have been mobilised in order to inculcate it? In this article I argue that in the early American republic, religious freedom was demonstrated and imparted to adolescents through a unique form of pilgrimage: visiting and attending the worship services of religious minorities while on tour. I demonstrate my argument by considering the travel accounts of fifteen, Protestant, American adolescent girls (aged 10 to 21) between 1782 and 1835; I trace their visits to various houses of worship while on tour and discuss their experiences. Scattered amid their descriptions are reports of attendance at the religious services of other faiths and other Christian denominations and sects. By stopping to encounter members of these religious minorities and to attend their religious worship along the tour, parents may have sought to demonstrate that enjoying civil privileges was no longer a product of one's religious affiliation or beliefs, but rather the outcome of one's shared national belonging and solidarity. This article both highlights the connections between forms of youth tourism and religious tolerance, and contributes to the scholarship concerning citizenship formation during the formative years of the modern state in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage


  • Adolescent girls
  • Citizenship education
  • Early Republic
  • Pilgrimage
  • Religious tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


Dive into the research topics of ''We were very much surprised at their worship': American girls and religious tourism in the early republic, 1780-1835'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this