The 2nd great awakening and transcendentalism

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  1. Religious Revolution

    • There is a third revolution in the early 1800s besides politics and the economy

    • It was a commitment to reform the character of Americans into more upstanding, God fearing, and literate

    • Many drew their crusading zeal from religion

    • The Second Great Awakening changed the place of religious believers; sending them out on missions to perfect the world

  1. Deism and the Age of Reason

    • Church attendance still a regular ritual for Americans

    • ¾ of 23 million people attend church in 1850

    • Alexis de Tocqueville declared there was “no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.”

    • The nature of American religion was changing though, the French Revolution had softened the orthodoxy

    • In Thomas Paine’s widely circulated book The Age of Reason (1794) he declared all churches were “set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”Many Founding Fathers, including Jefferson and Franklin, and anticlerics embraced the liberal doctrines of Deism

      • Relied on reason rather than revelation, on science rather than the Bible

      • They rejected the concept of original sin, denied Christ’s divinity

      • Believed in a supreme being who had created the universe and endowed humans with a capacity for moral behavior

    • Deism helped inspire a New England spinoff from its severe Puritan past at the end of the 1700s: the Unitarians

      • Believed God existed only in one person and not the trinity

      • denied divinity of Jesus

      • pictured God as a loving father, not stern and jealous

      • belief in free will and salvation through good works

      • appealed to intellectuals whose optimism contrasted sharply with hellfire doctrines of Calvinism

  1. The Second Great Awakening

    • The reactive 1800s movement against this growing liberalism in faith was known as the Second Great Awakening:

      • Fresh wave of revivals beginning in the south and moving north

      • Reaching more people than the first Awakening, one of the largest movements in American religious history

      • Shattered old demoninations and created new ones

      • Also began a new spirit of evangelicalism that spread into prison reform, the temperance cause, and the abolition movement

    • Started with large “camp meetings

      • As many as 25,000 people would gather for several days

      • It was obvious the country was spiritually starved and these meetings were emotionally intense

      • “fire and brimstone” atmosphere with attendees dancing, rolling, and shouting

    • These revivals spread across the nation

      • The largest affected denominations were Baptist and Methodists

      • Revivals boosted church membership

      • Democratic control of churches

      • Rousing emotionalism

      • Stressed personal conversion instead of predestination

    • Peter Cartwright

      • 1785 – 1872

      • Methodist

      • Was a “circuit rider” or traveling frontier preacher

      • With strong emotional sermons called for sinners to repent

    • Charles Finney

      • Greatest revivalist preacher

        • Trained as a lawyer

        • Tall and athletic

        • He held large captive audiences with powerful oratory and a smooth voice

        • Focused on the NE in the early 1830’s

        • Encouraged women to pray aloud in public

        • Denounced alcohol and slavery

      • Finney’s Evangelicalism

        • In the 1830s Charles Finney came to symbolize middle class evangelicalism

        • Many began to ignore conservative old Puritan beliefs in their daily lives

        • Benefits of the Market Revolution were the result of human effort

        • So the middle class would soon become “moral free agents” allowed by God

        • Valued individual holiness over permanent social order

        • People could make the world better by choosing right over wrong

        • You only had ability to choose right after submitting their rebellious wills to the will of God

    • Effects

      • Feminization of religion

        • In terms of membership and theology

        • Middle class women were the most fervent revival enthusiasts

        • Were the wives and daughters of businessmen

        • Evangelicals preached a gospel that appealed to them: female spiritual worth and the role of bringing their husbands back to God

        • With that message many women turned their effort into saving the rest of society

        • They formed charitable organizations and spearheaded many of the era’s reform movements

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