A Shopkeeper's Millennium: The Second Great Awakening (GA)


I. Introduction and overview  

1. Around 1800, another great wave of revivals swept over America.  It occurred in several regions:


In the South it occurred mostly in the frontier regions of SC, KY, TN, & OH, in camp meetings, using itinerant preachers.  

But the Second Great Awakening that began in Rochester, N.Y. and spread along the newly constructed Erie Canal routes had the most  significant impact on American society as a whole.


2. The main doctrinal contribution of these revivals was Perfectionist Theology—the idea that humans were not inherently sinful, but they could become perfect here on earth by making right moral choices. (Historians call this free moral agency.)


3. Revivalists believed that they could bring the millennium right here and now if they worked to improve society by pushing people to make these right moral choices.


4. This belief sparked a great outpouring of reform movements in America in the 1820s & 30s. These attempts to “stamp out sin” ultimately created tremendous upheaval in the political realm.


5. Conflict over reform led to the rise and fall of the Whig party--which transforms into the Republican Party as it disintegrates.  The Republican's victory in the Presidential election of 1860 sparks the secession of the Southern states largely because of the legacy of these reform movements.


6. But we must also understand the Second Great Awakening as a response to industrialization. In the newly industrializing northwest, the revival was linked to the upheavals of industrialization; a case study of the area in which the revivals began explains the connection.  


II. The Second Great Awakening (2nd GA) in the South and New England


A. 2nd GA begins in the South @ turn of Century--1800


1. The 1st wave: the frontier regions of South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio in emotional camp meetings using itinerant preachers (copied the tactics of Whitefield in the 1st GA)






Church structures








Changes in religious affiliations:



B. In New England, Congregationalist churches reacted against this emotionalism by placing greater emphasis on reason.


1. In this movement, these theologians rejected the doctrine of the Trinity and worshipped a united God—He was one person in this theology.

Thus, this movement was called Unitarianism.


  2. But they embraced one idea of the 2nd GA—Unitarians also believed that humans could be made perfect, although they thought the method to reach perfection would be their own reason.  

We will see their actions in the lecture on social movements.

      3. Other revivals in the North, however, were linked to emerging capitalism:


To the attempts of the new industrialists to transform the labor force to work in the factories


Farm boys and pre-industrial artisans needed a major adjustment to the monotony and discipline of modern factory work


Battles against drunkenness, spontaneous holidays, & inattention to work were work-place issues


But industrialists fought these battles with religious societies, which then became political in an attempt to control the new labor force.


III. A Shopkeeper's Millennium: an economic interpretation of revival

A. In the north, the 2nd GA arose in the west in up-state NY about 1800 and continued into the 1840s


1. The 1821-31 revivals of Charles Finney in New York among the middle classes were the main thrust of the awakening.


2. These revivals began in Rochester, New York; understanding the problems of this town with industrialization helps us understand why the revival broke out there and what it meant for certain segments of reform.


 B. The economy of Rochester. It was the 1st of the inland boom cities created by commercialization of agriculture and the opening of new transportation routes after 1815 http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/wxyz/images/woodengr.rochestr.1830.lg.jpg


1. Strategic location   




2. Genesee River




3. Flour production


4. Was also a manufacturing & marketing center; one of the first places to employ the new factory system of manufacturing.


5. Experienced population boom with the opening of the Erie Canal  

1820- 1,000 people


1834, more than 12,000  


C. The city of Rochester experienced extreme problems with industrialization


1. Skilled master artisans (journeymen)


Home production 





Work/home linked; Paternalism






The daily dram





2. As industry expanded, this changes:


New work place



In Rochester, by 1837 less than 1 journeyman in 4 lived w/ his employer


---in one trade (shoes), it was 1 in 20 


Family-centered work relations & wage labor were now separated—social controls broke down


3. By 1835, the middle class and the working class inhabited distinct social worlds


Neighborhood sociability





Boom in public in saloons--in 1827 alone over 100 liquor licenses granted  





Violence and anomie







Needs of Factory work place






Class conflict over drinking



How to stop this?  




D. Rochester politics: Temperance


   1. The village council  





2. The Rochester Society for the Promotion of Temperance, 1828


Type of social controls  









The dram










E. Another problem that occurred with industrialization—Sabbath breaking & Sabbatarianism


1. Blue laws  





2. Commerce and the Erie Canal on the Sabbath  





3. Boycotts and rejection of boycotts  





4. A divided elite and incivility  




 What could help the city of Rochester cope w/ stresses of industrialization?


F. Pentecost: September, 1830; Revival! 1st step--call in Charles Finney, popular preacher http://awmchurch.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Charles_Finney.180112816_std.jpg


  1. Finney was spell-binding, but was educated: had trained to be a lawyer but then gotten saved


Used court-room tactics not cheap theatrics


Used folksy speech & colloquial examples


People got emotional at his meetings ('tho not as much as in meetings in the South)


But he had enough class to attract Rochester's elites


  2. Revivals organized by businessmen and their wives who were involved in new factories and commerce


Who converted?  




 3. For 6 months Finney preached nearly every night and three times on Sunday; all day he held prayer meetings


Simultaneous meetings occurred all over town in homes & churches http://www1.assumption.edu/users/mcClymer/his260/Eastham_campmeeting.jpg


  4. Social healing resulted from this effort


A common cause  




5. Perfectability and middle-class gender roles



Industrialization and home production





“Elevation" of the home


The “private” family  



Separate “spheres” 






Mothers and free moral agency





Women, revivals, and drinking; one man wrote Finney unhappy with this. here is how he described a meeting his wife went to:


[The preacher] stuffed my wife w/ tracts & alarmed her w/ fears, and nothing short of meetings, night & day could atone for the many-fold sins my poor simple spouse had committed. And she made the miraculous discovery that she had been 'unevenly yoked.' From this unhappy period, peace, quiet & happiness have fled my dwelling, never, I fear, to return."  


 G. A shopkeeper's Millennium  


1. The Burned-Over district 





2. The millennium in 3 months?





3. Perfectionist theology was communal in its orientation






This was an attack on working class leisure activities & it also served the interests of factory owners needing a sober and reliable work force. Yet it was not against the working class per se or done for purely selfish reasons—it was done to bring the millennium 



 H. Working Class response:


1. Working class rebuttal to the middle class critique of their lives





2. Still, many of  these campaigns were successful--42% of those joining revival churches were working class in 1831  

Why? chart


Genuine conversion  











I. A new political party born of this in 1834--the Whigs


1. Former bitter political factions were now pulled into 1 party by revivals 




2. A party of evangelical elites  






3. The Democratic Rebuttal 




4. But the Whigs won elections in Rochester by a small margin in 1834 and passed laws to shut down grog houses


working class saloons now had to shut down or operate outside the law


Summary: Revivals occurred mostly in towns where the Industrial Revolution was the most prominent. It was mostly led by men and women who were the leader of the new manufacturing systems.  These people were faced with disorders in the new industrializing world.  The revival gave solutions to social disorder and moral confusion that surrounded creation of a free-labor economy.  The Whigs carried the solution into politics.  Thus, nascent capitalism became wedded to visions of a perfect moral order.