Second Great Awakening


-The economy was boosted, especially in New York due to the Erie Canal

-The Second Great Awakening was the religious response to attempts to combine religion and rationalism in the first half of the 19th century

Problems and Goals

-There was confusion over faith due to economic changes.

-The goal was to eliminate rationalism due to skepticism which caused people to question religious beliefs.

-Individuals could better themselves by bringing G-d and Christ back into their lives.

-A main idea was that each person can achieve salvation through spiritual rebirth.


-The ideas were spread through word-of-mouth and sermons

-First "camp meeting" was in Cane Ridge, KY in 1801 and connected nearly 25, 000 people and spread the ideas of the Second Great Awakening

-The Revivalists used conversion, especially among the minority groups, to enlighten others and spread their ideas

Leaders and Followers

-Many denominations, especially Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians supported the Second Great Awakening

-Charles Grandison Finney, an Evangelical minister, focused his efforts in NY and gave many sermons. He said that "Religion is the work of man. It is something for a man to do."

-Finney had an epiphany that he would reach salvation if he opened his mind to Christ and preached about his renewed belief.

-Many preachers focused their efforts on women, African Americans, and minority groups


-It eradicated the Calvinist ideas of predestination

-Since people believed that they could shape their destinies, there was more intensity for an individual's search for salvation and connection with G-d

-Sects and denominations of Christianity grew and multiplied

-New religious fervency brought stability and order to social groups which previously lacked it

-The impact of the Second Great Awakening changed the social structure of Native American societies, mostly due to missionaries who came

-Those who didn't follow the Second great Awakening emerged as rational "free thinkers"

-Since the original push was solely to bring back religion into people's lives in place of rationalism, it began as a conservative effort. Over time, it grew to be liberal/moderate due to the ideas of forming a personal connection with G-d. The revivalist ideas spread to so many people that they were interpreted differently, causing a range of personal relationships with G-d.



Burbank, J. Maze. "Religious Camp Meeting," watercolor, c. 1839 (Old Dartmouth Historical Society-New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA). (accessed October 22, 2014).

Charles Finney. (accessed October 23, 2014).

Charles G. Finney Defines Revivalism, 1834. Classroom Resource.

Charles Grandison Finney Experiences Conversion (1821). Classroom Resource.


Brinkley, Alan. American History. 13th ed. Ed. Michael Ryan. McGraw-Hell: New York, 2009.

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