They saw themselves as having the moral responsibility of others. The Age of Protestant Enlightenment was upon the land and we have never recovered. Daniel Howe in his Unitarian Conscience explains:
"The rebellion against Calvinist theology which the Liberals of Massachusetts pioneered was gradually accepted and followed by mainstream American Protestants in general. The Unitarian denomination itself always remained small, of course, but the Harvard moralists had resigned themselves to this very early. 'Our object is not to convert men to our party, but to our principles,' they declared.....by 1857 a Unitarian could estimate, with justification, that there were ten times as many covert Liberals in other denominations as there were professed Unitarians."
Religious Affiliation of U.S. Presidents
Ratio % of Pres.
to % of Pop.
Disciples of Christ
United Church of Christ
Unitarianism was a religion of reason; it was heralded as the "Second Awakening". In an age which had little mass communication or literate congregations, oratorical Evangelical Unitarianism was the way to go. It not only inspired feeling, but moved men to action. Evangelicals today are more inspired by oratory of Unitarian fabrication than seeking and reading the truths for their own souls.
There are scant few churches today which are devoid of the moral overtones of Unitarianism as launched two centuries ago - a mix of humanism and Puritanism in Harvard's moral philosophy. Even Bill Wilson's Alcoholics Anonymous once offered God as their salvation now serves up a "higher power" as a solution for their patron's failings.
Catholics considered government schools not as an encroaching evil of bigger government, but as a Protestant assault on Catholicism.
Public schooling has proven to be a fear of both. Catholic schools have proven to be a failed attempt to preserve their orthodox teachings. Mann was also a Whig. The government school crisis upon us today is an extension of the Unitarian agenda launched over 160 years ago.
The political agenda for the Unitarians to advance their moral philosophies upon others, notably the South ("Land of Darkness") was to get a platform advanced by Whiggery.
Howe again in The Political Culture of the American Whigs, tells us:
"Business and professional men tended to be Whigs. Industrial workers did not vote against their employers; frequently, wage earners and others who felt they had a stake in the growth of manufacturing were also Whigs.....the Whig party was especially strong in southern New England...that hoped for government-aided economic-development projects - "internal improvements". People of New England extraction and members of the sects of New England Protestantism (Congregationalists, Unitarians, "New School" Presbyterians) also seem to have voted Whig in disproportionate numbers."
The spoils system had taken root and rent-seekers and those seeking special privilege or patronage saw the Whigs as their opportunity to reap un-toiled dispensation. The religious elite saw the Whigs as an opportunity to use government to advance their moral views and mold others to a template of rationalism devised in their world view.
The South, with their Calvinist beliefs was especially singled out for Enlightenment. None were to be disappointed.