I read History as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge where I won the Margaret Hastings Prize, Russel Gurney Scholarship, and the Ellen McArthur Scholarship. I moved to Oxford for a Master’s in US History where I received the Carwardine Prize, awarded to the year’s most outstanding student. I have stayed at Oxford to pursue my DPhil, where I am the current Edward Orsborn scholar at University College.
My doctorate focuses on the role of home missionaries in the reconstruction of the United States after the Civil War. Specifically, it looks at the home missionary efforts of the five major Northern denominations - Congregationalist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Presbyterian - and explores the ways in which they sought to consolidate the post-war nation under one uniform Yankee Protestant culture. Unlike most missionary histories, which tend to focus on the activities of the missionaries themselves, my research looks at the thousands of ordinary Americans who supported them financially. Worried that the expanding Union could collapse due to massive immigration, industrialisation, and urbanisation, metropolitan benefactors donated millions of dollars towards the evangelisation of the country, not only as a mark of piety, but of patriotism. The 'moral capital' they produced to support these missions forged powerful connections between benefactors and beneficiaries across the country, creating what I call a 'spiritual economy' that evangelicals envisioned as an instrument of national reunification.
My main research interests lie in the political, religious, and economic history of the nineteenth-century US. More broadly, however, I am interested in most aspects of American intellectual and political history, including (but not limited to) the Puritans, the Federalists, Whig politics, and the Republican Party.
I encourage anyone who’s thinking of applying for a DPhil in American History to get in touch.
Jones, Gwion Wyn. Between Scylla and Charybdis: religion and the meaning of Union in the border states, 1861–1865, American Nineteenth Century History, Vol. 23, No. 1, 40-61, (2022)