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Second Great Awakening

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Second Great Awakening

The Second Great Awakening was an 18th-century religious movement that swept across America. This movement would forever change the course of American history. It led to educational reforms, women's rights movements, and more. What caused the Second Great Awakening to Happen? What did it affect? Who were the leaders? Let's jump in and unpack the Second Great Awakening!

Second Great Awakening Causes

Second Great Awakening Definition

The Second Great Awakening was a series of revivals that lead to social changes.

The Second Great Awakening dates back to the 1790s and lasted into the 1850s. Most Americans during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were a denomination of Christianity. Congregationalists, Episcopalians, and Quakers were the most popular branches. They had many members but their churches were slow-growing.

Denomination

a subgroup of Christianity i.e. Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist

In the late 1700s, lawmakers decided that the American government would not support churches with state funds. America did not have a national church so Americans could practice whatever denomination of Christianity that they wanted to. This gave smaller denominations a chance to compete with larger ones.

With a rise in industrialization, people began to believe that their successes and failures were their faults. If someone worked hard then they would succeed but if they did not then they would fail. This idea became a core principle of the Second Great Awakening. They believed that their salvation was in their own hands, they just had to ask God for forgiveness.

Participants in the Second Great Awakening romanticized older forms of Christianity. They liked the simplicity of it. The Christianity of their time was Calvinism and Deism. Calvinists believed in pre-destiny and that God had already decided who would or wouldn't get into heaven. Deists, like Thomas Jefferson, believed that God made the world and then left it. Deist did not believe in the supernatural or miracles.

Thomas Jefferson cut the non-Deist parts out of the bible and then pasted the rest together! This is called the Jefferson Bible.

Americans began creating a shared sense of self. This idea of "self" excluded anyone different from them like Deists and Calvinists. While the "others" were still American they were looked down on by the Americans who were considered the norm. This kind of inclusion and exclusion is called nationalism.

Second Great Awakening Jefferson Bible StudySmarterJefferson Bible, Wikimedia

Second Great Awakening Summary

The Second Great Awakening began when Methodist and Baptist preachers started traveling to spread their version of the bible. These traveling preachers were called circuit preachers because they would preach for multiple church groups along their circuit.

The preachers would hold sermons at camp meetings. These meetings could last a few days or an entire week! Preachers would give exciting sermons where they used plain language and hand gestures for emphasis. They would memorize their sermons so that their full attention could be on the attendees.

Missionaries would travel even further west to hold camp meetings for settlers on the New Frontier. They would travel to South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. They also went to Native American tribes to try and convert them.

Second Great Awakening Camp Meeting StudySmarterCamp Meeting, Wikimedia

In the South, Great Awakening preachers originally gave sermons on equality, no matter the race or gender of the person. This upset the white men who oppressed these minority groups. Southern preachers began to remove those parts from their sermons. This caused a split between Northern and Southern Baptists and Presbyterians who couldn't agree on these issues.

Slave owners allowed preachers to give slaves sermons on suppression and servitude. While slaves did convert, they saw God as the warrior god who freed the Israelites. They thought if he could free them, then he could free us. Free black men and slaves began preaching to one another. This lasted until the Turner Rebellion which resulted in slaves being forbidden to preach or learn to read. Black people no longer received trials and had harsher punishments.

Nat Turner Rebellion

Nat Turner was a slave who believed he had visions from God. Turner and his men killed their master and the master's family. As they traveled they killed 55 white people. Turner had sixty slaves with him when they faced a white militia. He was captured, tried, and hanged.

Second Great Awakening Leaders

Charles Grandison Finney

Charles Finney preached in the Burned-over District. This district of New York earned its name because of the number of people that it drew to the sermons along the Erie canal. Finney was an abolitionist and gave women more freedoms in his church than they would get in others.

Abolition

A movement to end slavery

Second Great Burned Over District Meeting StudySmarterBurned-over District on Map of New York, Wikimedia

Lyman Beecher

Lyman Beecher was an abolitionist and a teetotaler. Teetotalers were a part of the Temperance Movement that was meant to criminalize the drinking and selling of alcohol. Beecher was a preacher and a professor. His son would become a preacher and abolitionist and his daughter wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin.

John Rodgers

John Rodgers was a Presbyterian minister who encouraged his followers to help the less fortunate people around them by donating and volunteering. His teachings influenced New York merchants to create the Humane Society.

Second Great Awakening Significance

The Second Great Awakening led to the Women's Suffrage Movement (women's right to vote), the Abolitionists Movement, education reforms, and the Temperance Movement. Without this religious wave, America would be very different.

Effects of the Second Great Awakening

With the division of Northern and Southern churches, a divide between the North and South continued to grow. While Northern churches taught about abolition Southern churches preached that slaves be submissive to their masters. The division that grew between the North and South would continue to grow until the Civil War.

Women were not given space in political communities nor did they have jobs. They filled this lack of community with religion. During the Second Great Awakening, white women were allowed to pray during the same meeting as men, something that had not been done before. They could also vote on church manners. When they were no longer allowed to vote they organized and created movements like the Women's Temperance Organization and the Women's Suffrage Movement.

Second Great Awakening Temperance Songs StudySmarterTemperance Songs used at the Women's Temperance Organization, Wikimedia

The Temperance Movement aimed to illegalize alcoholic drinks. The problem was that alcohol was necessary because the water was not safe to drink. Teetotalers popularized other ways to safely drink water that did not involve alcohol.

Churches founded schools to teach children to read so that they could read the bible. The schools only met three days a week but this decreased the number of people in America who could not read.

First Great Awakening Vs Second Great Awakening

The First and Second Great Awakenings were very different. Let's look at the below chart to compare the two.

First Great Awakening Second Great Awakening
Had a realistic view of religion and of America Had a romanticized view of religion and America
Believed lives were pre-destined and God decided if they would be savedBelieved in free will and that they could decide if they would be saved by asking God to save them
Fire and Brimstone preachers would scare people Used simple language, hand gestures, and memorized sermons so that they were more relatable
Focused on reforming religious people Focused on societal reform

The First Great Awakening had a realistic understanding of the world versus the Second which romanticized older forms of Christianity. The First Great Awakening was full of Calvinists who believed that God had already decided who would and would not get into Heaven. The Second believed in free will, that only you can decide if you go to Heaven or Hell.

The First Great Awakening would use fear tactics to scare people into believing how they wanted them to. The Second was more relatable to the everyday person. The First focused on reforming people who were already Christian while the Second focused on societal reform.

Second Great Awakening - Key takeaways

  • The Second Great Awakening encouraged Abolitionists, Suffragettes, Educational Reform, and the Temperance Movement
  • Focused on social reform while the First Great Awakening focused on reforming Christians
  • Believed in free will
  • Allowed Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches to grow

Frequently Asked Questions about Second Great Awakening

The Second Great Awakening was a series of revivals that lead to social changes.

   The Second Great Awakening dates back to the 1790s and lasted into the 1850s. 

The Second Great Awakening was caused by the government not funding churches, industrialization, romanticism of old forms of Christianity, and nationalism. 

One major teaching of the Second Great Awakening was that only you controlled your salvation. They believed that their salvation was in their own hands, they just had to ask God for forgiveness.  

The Second Great Awakening influenced society by creating abolitionists, suffragists, educational reforms, teetotalers, and prison reforms. 

Final Second Great Awakening Quiz

Question

When was the Second Great Awakening?

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Answer

1790s - 1850s

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Question

Which of the following was not a cause of the Second Great Awakening?

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Answer

Industrialization 

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Question

The nationalistic American identity excluded which two denominations? 

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Answer

Calvinists and Deists

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Question

What do you call a preacher who travels from church to church along a circuit? 

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Answer

Circuit Preacher

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Question

Which two denominations were known for circuit preachers?

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Answer

Baptist and Methodist 

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Question

Southern preachers received criticism for preaching about equality for which two groups of people?

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Answer

Black People and White Women

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Question

Who led a slave rebellion that resulted in authorities making life more difficult for black people? 

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Answer

Nat Turner

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Question

Which famous Second Great Awakening preacher was an abolitionists and women's rights activist? 

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Answer

Charles Grandison Finney

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Question

What was the movement to end slavery called?

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Answer

Abolition 

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Who was a Second Great Awakening preacher who was a teetotaler and abolitionist?

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Answer

Lyman Beecher

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Which Second Great Awakening preacher encouraged charity work?

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Answer

John Rodgers

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What issue caused the Northern and Southern Baptist and Methodist churches to divide?

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Answer

Slavery

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Why did women heavily participate in church?

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Answer

They had no political power

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What did the Temperance Movement popularize?

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Answer

Safe ways to drink water without alcohol 

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Which of these is not a difference between the First and Second Great Awakenings? 

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Answer

Different views of religion and America

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Question

What religious revitalization was the early temperance movement associated with? 

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Answer

The Second Great Awakening

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True or False: In the early 1800s, men, women, and children consumed alcohol. 

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Answer

True 

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Question

What was the economic reason for the popularity of liquor in the 1800s? 

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Answer

Liquor was easy to transport, making it cheap and readily available. 

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What was an environmental factor that lead to the popularity of liquor in the 1800s? 

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In many areas, liquor was safer to drink and less expensive than water. 

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Why did some evangelical Christians see the selling of whiskey as a violation of the Sabbath? 

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Answer

Men worked six days a week, and used Sunday to drink and socialize. 

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Which of the following liquors was the target of the most successful temperance campaigns? 

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Answer

Rum 

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Question

What was the per capita peak of alcohol consumption in the 1830s? 

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Answer

Approximately 5 gallons 

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Question

By the 1850s, after the spread of the American Temperance Society, what was the per capita consumption of alcohol? 

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Answer

Approximately two gallons 

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Question

Which temperance movement leader is called the Father of Prohibition? 

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Answer

Neal Dow 

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Question

In the 1880s, the temperance movement lead to the creation of which political party? 

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Answer

The Prohibition Party

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