Second Great Awakening

By: Fred Crumbo and Michael Becker

"The noise was like the roar of Niagara. The vast sea of human beings seemed to be agitated as if by a storm. I counted seven ministers, all preaching at one time, some on stumps, others on wagons ... Some of the people were singing, others praying, some crying for mercy. A peculiarly strange sensation came over me. My heart beat tumultuously, my knees trembled, my lips quivered, and I felt as though I must fall to the ground."

The Second Great Awakening, marked by an increased emphasis on personal beliefs over the ideas taught in schooling and theology, appeared all over the United States. In New York, new denominations arose; in Appalachia, the Awakening energized Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists.

James McGready, an early Presbyterian preacher.

McGready, along with two of his colleagues, led the first camp style religious meeting, which allowed for people of all classes and ideas to come to the sermons and hear what the people had to say for themselves. Overall, he helped the transfer between Old light and New light. Many people, of the Old light, did not want to change the way religion was being presented. But, others, the New light and the driving force behind the Second Great Awakening, did succeed in their goal of bringing religion closer and more directly related to the people.

Charles Grandson Finney, a revolutionary preacher during the early-mid

Around 1825, Charles Finney became a well known figure in spreading religion during the Second Great Awakening by revolutionizing preaching styles with his direct and very personal sermons. This style of sermon better spread religion during the Second Great Awakening because people not only felt closer to their spiritual beliefs, preachers, or other religious leaders, but also attracted more people to the sermons because of its entertaining nature. This helped to continue the already changing religious effect on society.

This photo clearly exemplifies how this new style of preaching added a social aspect to society's religious norm.

We believe that bringing religion closer to the people did help to create a stronger sense of community between those people and progress America in a positive and open manner. The energized and emotional sermons, displayed in front of generally larger groups of people in an outdoor setting, also made religion more accessible for the average American; without these changes America would not mesh as well socially.



Burbank, J. Maze. “A camp meeting, or religious revival in America, from a sketch taken on the spot.”

Royal Society of London. (October 21, 2014).

Photograph of James McGready.

/gl040_sm.jpg. (October 21, 2014).

“Portrait of Charles G. Finney.”

ney.jpg. (October 21, 2014).

“Religious Transformation and the Second Great Awakening.” US History: Pre-Columbian to the New

Milennium. (October 21, 2014). This is a secondary source but we only used a quote from a young man who attended a famous sermon in 1802.


“Charles Grandison Finney & the Second Phase of the Second Great Awakening.” Christianity History

& Biography. July 1, 1989. (October 21, 2014).

“James McGready (1763-1815).” The Restoration Movment.

/mcgready.htm. (October 21, 2014).

Photograph from a Common Sermon.

atAwake/CampMeeting7.jpg. (October 21, 2014).

“The Second Great Awakening.” United States History.

(October 21, 2014).

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