Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Fenton


In this thesis, I examine the work of William Apess, a Methodist minister who was perhaps the most noteworthy Native American public intellectual of the nineteenth century. Specifically, I look at Apess’s only surviving sermon, The Increase of the Kingdom of Christ, and his sermon’s appendix, “The Indians: The Ten Lost Tribes.” By arguing that Apess’s devout Methodism closely aligns with his anti-colonial convictions, I demonstrate that his political positions cannot be understood outside of his religious beliefs. I believe it is Methodism’s heretical status during the early republic that allows Apess to articulate his anti-colonial position. Scholarship on this period often treats political theory as a secular concern. However, Apess’s writing demonstrates the influence religious beliefs can have on political ideas in the nineteenth-century United States, and Apess’s work is an example of how theology can have liberatory political potential. By drawing on research that addresses seemingly diverse topics such as sentiment, indigenous temporalities, and the Apocalypse, this thesis works through Apess’s attempt to articulate the incomprehensible impact of American colonialism.



Number of Pages

73 p.