The First Great Awakening (during the 1730s and 40s): many camp style sermons were presented where huge crowds were converted. It involved a new emotionalized style of preaching. 

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📖 Context & Causes

  • Strict Protestant values seeing a decline. For example, the Halfway Covenant declared that in order to be baptized, new members of the Puritan church no longer had to experience a “conversion” (a direct experience with God), but could just be baptized. This worried devout Puritans by disrupting traditions.
  • The Enlightenment was the spread of a focus on reason and science rather than emotion that took place during most of the 1700s. The fervor and emotional preaching of the Great Awakening can be seen as a response to this focus on strict logic.

🔎 Effects

  • It can be considered as the “first mass movement” of the colonies since it was one of the first shared experiences that the majority of colonists participated in and were affected by. In this context, the movement can be seen as creating a unified American identity, and can therefore even be considered as a factor leading to the American Revolution.
  • This also changed religion in the colonies as the new lights continued emotional preaching, while those strongly believed in keeping old traditions, the old lights, continued to oppose it.

🔑 Key People

  • Jonathon Edwards
  • George Whitefield

The Second Great Awakening (during the early and middle 1800s): Similar to the 1st one, this movement spread religious zeal, but focused more on an individual's connection to God.

📖 Context & Causes

  • Market Revolution caused major societal changes. More people were leaving their traditional ways as a part of a community and a farmer, and going to work every day for a wage. Religion could be a way to bring morals into this new, market-based society, and it could also be a way to keep workers in line.
  • Other inequalities and ills of society such as excessive drinking could be a cause of this movement
  • Check out this period 4 article for more context 

🔎 Effects

 The idea of being able to perfect humans lead to many movements and utopian societies. The 2nd Great Awakening helped inspire...

  • Brook Farm 👪
  • Oneida Community
  • Temperance movement
  • Women’s rights movement and Seneca Falls 💁
  • Abolitionist movement
  • Asylum reform
  • Education reform 📚
  • Lead to the creation of new denominations and churches, including the Mormons

🔑 Key People 

  • Charles G. Finney

Exam Prep! Here are past APUSH exams’ FRQs concerning these two movements. Practicing with actual exam prompts from recent years is a great way to check your comprehension and get ready for exam day.

Bonus Resource: Here’s Jonathon Edward’s famous sermon, which is a great document to be familiar with!

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