Shopkeeper's Millennium: The Second Great Awakening (GA)
Introduction and overview
Around 1800, another great wave of revivals swept over
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.
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.)
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
This belief sparked a great outpouring of reform movements in
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.
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.
The Second Great Awakening (2nd GA) in the South and
2nd GA begins in the South @ turn of Century--1800
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
Changes in religious affiliations:
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.
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
1821-31 revivals of Charles Finney in New York among the middle classes were the main
thrust of the awakening.
revivals began in
The economy of
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
5. Experienced population boom with the opening of the
more than 12,000
The city of Rochester
experienced extreme problems with industrialization
1. Skilled master artisans (journeymen)
industry expanded, this changes:
New work place
one trade (shoes), it was 1 in 20
work relations & wage labor were now separated—social controls broke down
1835, the middle class and the working class inhabited distinct social worlds
in public in saloons--in
1827 alone over 100 liquor licenses granted
Violence and anomie
Needs of Factory work place
Class conflict over drinking
to stop this?
2. The Rochester Society for the Promotion of Temperance, 1828
Type of social controls
Another problem that occurred with industrialization—Sabbath breaking &
and rejection of boycotts
divided elite and incivility
could help the city of
Pentecost: September, 1830; Revival!
1st step--call in Charles Finney, popular preacher
was spell-binding, but was educated: had trained to be a lawyer but then gotten
court-room tactics not cheap theatrics
folksy speech & colloquial examples
got emotional at his meetings ('tho not as much as in meetings in the South)
he had enough class to attract Rochester's
organized by businessmen and their wives who were involved in new factories and
6 months Finney preached nearly every night and three times on Sunday; all day he held
meetings occurred all over town in homes & churches
resulted from this effort
resulted from this effort
5. Perfectability and middle-class gender roles
Industrialization and home production
of the home
Mothers and free moral agency
revivals, and drinking; one man wrote Finney unhappy with this. here is how he
described a meeting his wife went to:
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."
A shopkeeper's Millennium
1. The Burned-Over district
millennium in 3 months?
theology was communal in its orientation
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
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
1. Former bitter political factions were now pulled into 1 party by revivals
party of evangelical elites
3. The Democratic Rebuttal
the Whigs won elections in
class saloons now had to shut down or operate outside the law
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.