The Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening was a religious movement that occurred in the early 1800s in the USA and was both a follow up and a revival of The First Great Awakening. The movement was developed as a direct response to the weakening of Puritan traditions of religious doctrine and asserted that people should search for salvation throughout their everyday lives. Furthermore the movement was focused upon all members of society, with or without sin and claimed that everyone could achieve salvation if they rejected evil.
Despite its religious background, The Second Great Awakening extended far beyond the church and was more “more than a series of religious ‘crazes’ and camp meetings” (Mathews 31). Rather the movement had far reaching social consequences. One major focuses of The Second Great Awakening was placed upon educating members of society on equality of opportunity and with the underlying message supporting the possibility that all members of society were capable of achieving great things;
“[The Second Great Awakening concerned the]…principle that accepted the inequality of income and other circumstances of life as natural, but held that persons of low social rank could raise themselves up –by industry, perseverance, talent and righteous behavior to the top of the economic and social order” (Fogel, 2)
This philosophy had a major impact on society in the United States and led to a large number of social reforms. Various issues arose relating to women’s rights, slavery, prison conditions, temperance and the penitentiary system and eventually a social unrest was created that ultimately led to the American Revolution and contributed significantly towards democratic reform. What was initially a religious movement transpired act as a vehicle through which the America population could be taught morals and rid society of many practices that promoted inequality and ill treatment of specific groups.
Donald Mathews, “The Second Great Awakening as an Organizing Process, 1780-1830: An Hypothesis,” pp. 31, 27, 30
Fogel, Robert William. “Fogel, The Phases of the Four Great Awakenings.” 2000. The University of Chicago Press. 10 November 2004, pp.2