The Great Awakening
During a time when spiritual feelings where non-existing, the American people where searching for something to bring back the spiritual ness of Christianity. This was the start of the Great Awakenings. These big revivals had a large and lasting affect on American society. They introduced changes in social and religious practices.
The first Great Awakening started in the 1730’s and ended in the 1740’s. It brought with it a new spirit of religious fervor to the colonies. The revival appealed mostly to women and sons of the third and fourth generation because the revival emphasized the potential of every person to be able to start anew, no matter their past, with their relationship with God. People associated this with the ability to break away from their family or community and start a new life. The Great Awakening also led to the division of many existing congregations and to the founding of new ones. While changing some aspects of the church, it also affected some areas in society. Some revivalist denounced book learning saying that it was a hindrance to salvation, and some communities got rid of secular education all together. Other evangelists saw education as a way to further religion, and they founded or led schools for the training of New Light ministers.
The Second Great Awakening was held more to combat the spread of religious rationalism, and in the effort of church establishments to revitalize their organizations. All denominations where starting to evangelize more and more which caused the church membership to increase dramatically; especially in the Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches. In 1801, Americans held their first “camp meeting” which was an enormous revival that had great spiritual fervor. Instead of reviving religious beliefs, the Second Great Awakening started to deliver a new message. It was that God was an active force in the world whose grace could be obtained through faith and good works. It also increased the growth of different sects and denominations and helped create an acceptance of the idea that men and women could attend different Protestant churches, but still be essentially apart of the same Christian faith. This religious fervor was spread all over the United States and provided a sense of order and unity for communities that where still searching for an identity. One the items that stuck out most, was that women were more involved in the revival and they a lot of times made up most of the congregation in the churches. Also blacks became involved in the Second Great Awakening. Many of them accepted the Christian faith and a few black men even became preachers. These preachers became important figure heads in the black community and their message that salvation was meant for all inspired some blacks in Virginia to rebel.
Almost all of the Protestant religions today have been affected by the Great Awakenings. They each changed the way people practiced religion and saw each other as people. They were also big influences on the social practices of the 18th and 19th century which affected the development of new technology and education.