Many Americans believed that the future of this exceptional nation rested ultimately on a virtuous citizenry. Inspired by a religious revival of evangelical Protestantism that had swept across upstate New York through the Middle States into the South – the Second Great Awakening – reformers organized moral reform movements around temperance in alcohol consumption, anti-slavery, and women’s rights.
This reform impulse activated Americans across the country and from all social orders to become involved in their communities. Civic participation, involvement in public life, was central to the vibrancy of American democracy in this era. Americans wanted to make their communities better through reform. …
- While prior “awakenings” arose out of American Protestantism, starting in the 1960s, there have been a number of other moral movements with more secular roots (e.g. anti-war, environmentalism, etc.). Are these also “awakenings”? In what ways are they the same and in what ways are such secular “awakenings” different from religious ones?
- In recent years, there has been a shift within American Christianity toward evangelical churches. Is this evidence of another possible “awakening”?
This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense American History eBook. Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for students and teachers. Click here to download the Common Sense American History materials.
1819, Camp meeting of Methodists in N. America [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from <loc.gov/pictures/item/98508274/>.