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Second Great Awakening

John Adams

Second Great Awakening: John Adams was the 2nd American President who served in office from March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801. One of the important events during his presidency was the start of the Second Great Awakening,  a religious revivalist movement.

Definition and Summary of the Second Great Awakening
Summary and definition:
The Second Great Awakening was a Christian revivalist movement that featured large revival meetings where zealous preachers expressed their ideas to the American public which sparked social reformation such as the Temperance Movement, Women's suffrage and the Anti-Slavery Abolitionist Movement.

Second Great Awakening for kids: Background and History of the First Great Awakening
The First Great Awakening began in 1725 and lasted up to 1750 during the Colonial period of American history. The Great Awakening was sparked by the tour of an English evangelical minister named George Whitefield. The Great Awakening included the participation of political factions who wanted to bring about religious, social, and political changes. The first movements for social reform began to develop during this era.

What was the Second Great Awakening?
The Second Great Awakening was prompted by falling interest in religion when people were excited about the innovations of the Industrial Revolution and the rapid expansion of U.S. territories, particularly in the west. People did not have the time or the inclination for worship. Exuberant revivalist meetings ignited the interest in religion. The camp-meetings featured zealous preachers who applied Christian teaching to the resolution of the social problems of the day. The Second Great Awakening began in 1800 and was in decline by 1850.

Where and When did the Second Great Awakening begin?
The Second Great Awakening began in 1800 in New England, New York, Kentucky and Tennessee. Most of the religious revivals in the West occurred as camp meetings and also served as social gatherings with the opportunity to trade.

Why was the Second Great Awakening different to the First Great Awakening?
The Second Great Awakening differed to the first as the focus of the revival meetings moved from traditional evangelism and conversion, to recruiting people into different denominations. The aim of reviving faith in the Christian religion was uppermost, hence the terms 'revival' and 'revivalists', but unlike the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening not only encompassed the Protestant religion but also encouraged the participation of Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists.

What was the Purpose of Second Great Awakening?
The Second Great Awakening sought to awaken the consciences of people. It sought to change the beliefs and lifestyles of people by the adoption of virtues such as temperance, frugality and the ethic of hard work. It also sought to awaken people to the plight of the less fortunate in society, such as slaves, convicts and the handicapped, and work to make their lives better. Many of the preachers believed that the Gospel not only saved people, but also it was a means to reform society. The enthusiastic preachers believed that every person could be saved through revivals.

Second Great Awakening in the North and the South
The Second Great Awakening spread across both the Northern and Southern states but there were differences in focus and in interpretation. In the North, the movement resulted in the creation of voluntary, reformist societies, which led directly to the anti-slavery abolitionist movement. In the South, white evangelicals began to preach that the Bible supported slavery, a notion that was in the interests of the Slave Plantations. Also refer to the
Fugitive Slave Act.

Second Great Awakening and the Slaves
The First Great Awakening had brought Christianity to the African slaves, the second brought the message of spiritual equality, a conviction that there would be deliverance from slavery and a rise in the number of black preachers. For additional information refer to Nat Turner's Rebellion.

What were the Effects of the Second Great Awakening?
The effects of the Second Great Awakening included:

  • The Second Great Awakening enrolled millions of new members to various religious denominations

  • An increase in Presbyterians, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists and Methodists

  • The emergence of movements to prohibit alcoholic beverages, to support rights for women and to further education

  • More women converted than men

  • The establishment of Religious schools and Bible study groups

  • A divergence of religious beliefs between the North and the South

  • Abolitionist (anti-slavery) movements emerged in the North

  • Pro-Slavery movements emerged in the South

  • An emergence in black Protestantism and the founding of African-American churches

What was the Impact of the Second Great Awakening?
What was the Impact of the Second Great Awakening? The Second Great Awakening was extremely important as it led to the establishment of reform movements to address injustices and alleviate suffering such as the Temperance Movement, the Women's suffrage Movement and the Abolitionist Movement in which people advocated for emancipation on religious grounds.

Black History for kids: Important People and Events
For visitors interested in African American History refer to Black History - People and Events. A useful resource  for teachers, kids, schools and colleges undertaking projects for the Black History Month.

US American History
1790-1800: The New Nation

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