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The Second Great Awakening
Transcript of The Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening
Religion is no longer strictly Calvanist
"The Age of Reason"
by Thomas Paine states that the church wants only power.
Founding Fathers embrace Deism
One of the most momentous episodes in the history of American religion
Spread to the masses on the frontier by huge "camp meetings"
Deists were people that relied more on reason rather than revelation. These people favored science over the Bible. Deists were against the ideas of original sin and Christ's Divinity. However, they did believe that there was a Supreme Being who created a knowable universe and endowed human beings with a capacity for moral behavior.
Women in Revolt
This was the name for Western New York, a region that was caught up in the religious fervor of the Second Great Awakening. Millerites (Adventists) rose from the superheated soil of the Burned-Over Districts in the 1830s. They interpreted the Bible to tell them that Christ would return to Earth October 22, 1844. However, when this time came, Jesus didn't appear, thus dampening but not destroying the movement.
The Oneida Community
In 1830, Joseph Smith, a visionary, announced that he received some golden plates from an angel. He interpreted these plates to be the Book of Mormon. He then established the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints. Non-Mormons were against this new religion. Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois had some serious oppositions. One thing they didn't approve of was the Mormon's belief of polygamy.
The Death of Joseph Smith
In 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother were murdered and mangled by a mob in Carthage, Illinois.The movement was near collapse, but was soon taken over by Brigham Young, a man with eleven days of former schooling. He proved to be an aggressive leader, an eloquent preacher, and a gifted administrator. Avoiding further persecution, from 1846-1847 Young led the Mormons west to Utah.
Many rich women began to reform
Many more kept themselves from marrying
Woman's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848 had women demanding equal rights. Started the modern women rights campaign. Was pushed off due to slavery.
There were a small amount of tax-supported primary schools in the early years of the Republic. Many people opposed free public schools because they believed that it was an education for the poor. However, as time went, people began to see the light. If they didn't pay for these paupers education, then when the paupers grew up they would be dangerous and arrogant, especially when voting. Taxation for education was an insurance premium that the wealthy paid for stability and democracy.
Education in the South
Tax-supported public education started out slow in the South. But between 1825 and 1850 it triumphed. Hard-toiled labors influenced education and demanded instruction for their children. The most important thing to whites in Jackson's day was to gain manhood suffrage. A free vote cried aloud for free education. Thomas Jefferson declared that a civilized nation that was both ignorant and free "never was and never will be."
Higher Goals for Higher Learning
Due to the religious zeal of the Second Great Awakening, many small, denominational, liberal arts colleges were planted (mostly in the South and West). However, many of times these schools were set up more to gain local pride than to advance the cause of learning. The colleges prided education on Latin, Greek, mathematics, and moral philosophy. On the new and old campuses alike, they was little intellectual vitality and much boredom. The first state-supported colleges appeared in the South beginning in 1795. Federal land grants were helpful to the growth of these learning institutions.
Secondary levels of schooling for women gained some respectability in the 1820's, this in part being thanks to the dedicated work of Emma Willard. In 1821, she established the Troy Female Seminary. In 1837, many traditionalists in Ohio were shocked when Oberlin College started accepting women as well as men. In this same year, Mary Lyon established a women's school, Mount Holyoke Seminary (later College) in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Early Americans were more happy with the idea of practical science than pure science. Jefferson, for example, won a gold medal for inventing a new type of plow. Nathaniel Bowditch, a mathematician, was known for his writings on practical navigation and Matthew F. Maury on oceans and currents. These writers promoted safety, speed, and economy. However, as far as basic science was concerned, Americans were best know for borrowing and adapting European findings.
The 1790 to 1860 era brought a new wave of culture and reform to new-thinking America. From this wave, writers and reformers arose from American soil to world renown.
Before this time, America didn't write much of their own literature. They either borrowed or plagiarized works from Britain. America had plenty of political essays like The Federalist and Common Sense. Yet Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography (1818) was one of the few nonreligious books that achieved genuine distinction.
However, reform was not just limited to women in this time period. The Second Great Awakening brought on a wave of Christian activism. Everyone seemed to have a plan to make Utopia a reality. These movements included:
Reform of debtors laws and imprisonments
Reduction of the number of capital offenses
Attempts to free the world of cruelty, war, drinking, discrimination and slavery
Despite the numerous reforms being undertaken at this time, one reform that was overlooked was that of the mentally insane. These people were treated like animals in the jails and poor houses where they lived. Then came Dorothea Dix. Dix was a teacher who after teaching at a jail, realized the extent of the terrible treatment of 'patients.' Her reports and lobbying lead to better conditions for the mentally ill, as well as funds for reformed hospitals.
New Literature in America
The wave of nationalism that followed the War of 1812 gave Americans their first chance to begin writing serious literature.Some of the first to do this were members of the Knickerbocker Group. Members included:
First American to win international literary recognition
Wrote "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
James Feinmore Cooper
First American novelist
Wrote "The Last of the Mohicans"
Made many English people think Americans were wild men
William Cullen Bryant
First high quality American poem
Ended up editing the
New York Evening Post ,
setting future journalism standards
The Bubble of Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism was the idea that truth cannot be found by observation alone. Another main principle of transcendentalism is that each person can be in direct contact with God.
Traits of Transcendentalism
Individualists in social and religious situations
Committed to self-reliance, self-culture, and self- discipline
Hostile to authority, formal institutions, and conventional wisdom
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau
Best know transcendentalist
Former preacher turned lecturer
Most famous speech "The American Scholar"
Ideals reflected American Values making him very popular
Walden: Or Life in the Woods
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
His writings later encouraged both Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi in their peaceful resistance efforts
Hailed as an idealistic literary hero
Leaves of Grass
a poem that was at first condemned but later became a literary success
Later got informal title of "Poet Laureate of Democracy"
Other Literary Lights
Transcendentalists were not the only ones who could write. Many other writers including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes made significant contributions to literature at this time as well
Women in Literature
Women in literature at this time were few and far between. Two women who were involved at this time were Louisa May Alcott and Emily Dickinson. Both Alcott's
and Emily Dickinson's poems continue to live long into the modern age.
There were several literary individualists at this time as well. Among them are:
Edgar Allan Poe
The stories written by these writers continue to be popular in modern culture.