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This Far by Faith

Journeys

Timeline

People

About the Series
Discussions

1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1526-1775: from AFRICA to AMERICA
1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR
Next Journey
The Second Great Awakening: Jubilee and Social Change 1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW



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Timeline: 1776-1865 View Detailed Timeline
1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues
1866-1945: from EMANCIPATION to JIM CROW1946-1966: from CIVIL RIGHTS to BLACK POWER1967-TODAY: from CRISIS, A SEARCH FOR MEANINGTODAY: The Journey Continues



1776-1865: from BONDAGE to HOLY WAR
The Second Great Awakening: Jubilee and Social Change





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.


1801 Revival Meeting.

1801 Revival Meeting.


This revival marked the beginning of a great wave of evangelical outpouring known as the Second Great Awakening. By 1827, revivals were held so frequently that one publication noted, "Revivals, we rejoice to say, are becoming too numerous in our country to admit of being generally mentioned in our Record."

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.


Engraving of a black congregation meeting in an AME church, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1853.

Engraving of a black congregation meeting in an AME church, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1853.


The Second Great Awakening had an enormous effect on American society, changing the way Americans worshiped and preached, inspiring social reform, and converting thousands to Christianity. Its emphasis on equality of spirit, regardless of race, led to alliances between black leaders in northern cities and white abolitionists.

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.


Engraving of Black religious life, 1872.

Engraving of Black religious life, 1872.


Black churches, in turn, led the struggle to deliver enslaved brothers and sisters from bondage. That leadership ran the spectrum from those who preached non-violent reform to those who advocated rebellion. The message that moved Africans was not St. Paul on obedience, but the message of "jubilee." As C. Eric Lincoln wrote in The Black Church, "The message of the Invisible Church was, however articulated, 'God wants you free!'"




People of Faith


 Denmark Vesey
Denmark Vesey

 Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth


Did You Know?



During the Second Great Awakening, some women became missionaries and preachers.
more


In the early 1800s, many blacks became Methodists.
more


The Second Great Awakening inspired many social movements.
more

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