In June of 1800, on the fourth day of a Presbyterian revival meeting held in south central Kentucky, two traveling Methodist ministers concluded their day of preaching with an emotional exhortation. The crowd responded so enthusiastically that many collapsed, and word spread that the Holy Spirit had visited the meeting.
One of the Awakening's most charismatic evangelists was Charles G. Finney, a lawyer-turned-itinerant preacher who held a series of revivals between 1824 and 1837 in New York. Finney brought innovations to the religious revival that became hallmarks of meetings. He addressed God in familiar, informal language, encouraged music and choirs, created the "inquiry room" for seekers and the "anxious bench" for those wrestling with conversion, and advertised his revivals well in advance. This new approach to evangelizing was extremely effective. In 1831 alone, churches recorded 100,000 converts across the nation.
African-Americans felt empowered by the egalitarian message of the Awakening and the spirit of the Declaration of Independence to form their own black denominations and churches. The African Methodist Episcopal Church and many independent black Baptist churches were formed during this period.