When Was the Second Great Awakening? What Are the Higlights?
The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant fervor movement that started in about 1790 and lasted almost until 1840. For many people, its main highlight was the psychological transformation of one’s religious identity, some kind of rebirth.
The Second Great Awakening was a period of evangelical revival and fervor in the newly formed American nation. Many people who were seeking a place and opportunity to worship their Christian God free from persecution settled the British colonies. Being such a place, America became a country with a religious nation. When the Second Great Awakening was starting, with huge pleasure and excitement, the preachers delivered the message to the people in the form of wandering revivals in large cities and small towns throughout the whole country.
Those revivals were mass religious and social events where faith and belief were renewed with the emotional preaching of some evangelists. The Second Great Awakening was an expression of Arminian theology. Thanks to that theology, all people could be saved with the help of conversion, repentance, and revivals. The primary function of the Second Great Awakening was soul-winning. It stimulated a number of philanthropic and moral reforms such as the emancipation of women and temperance. The Second Great Awakening also resulted in the founding of many seminaries and colleges and the organizing mission societies all over the country.
The Second Great Awakening is usually divided into three phases, and the first one that lasted from 1795 to 1810 is associated with meetings at border camps. Those meetings were held by John McGee, Barton W. Stone, and James McGreedy, the American preachers, in the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. The second stage is considered to be more conservative; it lasted from 1810 to 1825. This phase’s crucial figures were theologians Lyman Beecher, Timothy Dwight, Asahel Nettleton, and Nathaniel W. Taylor. It was mostly concentrated in the New England’s Congregational Churches. The third phase continued from 1825 until 1835; it is known for the actions of Charles Grandison Finney, the evangelist. He started his revival in towns of the west of New York, but then also held revival meetings in big cities in Britain and America.
The Second Great Awakening passion contributed to the several Protestant denominations’ rapid growth. It included Baptist and Methodist churches and also resulted in the creation of churches for black people. Once, the owners of white plantations were afraid that baptizing slaves would also mean freeing them. So, in 1825, feeling the Second Great Awakening influence, they started to encourage their slaves to attend the meetings. Their hope was that if their slaves converted to Christianity and felt responsibility before God’s power, they would become better workers.
Many free black people and slaves have found hope in the gospel messages of spiritual equality and love. Thousands of them decided to convert to Christianity and accept God. Those of them who were parts of the Baptist and Methodist traditions finally created their own version of Christianity. Many people expressed their faith, love, sense of community, and belief in religious and spiritual songs that expressed never giving up hope in the face of the difficulties of slavery. In the first half of the twentieth century, many Protestants in the United States of America lost their interest in revivalism. However, both tent revivals and annual revivals in churches in the Midwest and South continued to be a crucial characteristic of the life of the Protestant church.