One Nation Under God: The Lasting Effects of the Second Great Awakening

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There exists a long held belief that the United States of America was founded on the principles and doctrinal views of Protestantism. Modern age Christians have scoured historical documents in an effort to provide evidence for a Judeo-Christian foundation in the nation’s republican framework. Likewise, their opponents have written lengthy dissertations and argued over various media outlets that Christian conclusions are unfounded. Yet despite their endless debate, religion, especially Christianity, has and continues to play a fundamental element of America’s cultural, societal, and political makeup. The Second Great Awakening, the religious revivalist movement of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, ignited not only a religious revolution that transformed the American landscape, but it also developed and cemented the individualistic ideologies that have driven American thought in subsequent generations. At its core, the Second Great Awakening was a religious response to the uncertainty of the period. The nation at the time was redrawing its boundaries westward to accommodate the booming population. The established Protestant denominations of the day, the Congregationalists and Anglicans, had failed to create their much desired religious utopias and discontent in their traditional beliefs set in. Through the means of renewed religious enthusiasm, a movement spread throughout the young nation seeking to reverse the spiritual apathy that had set in many of its Christian adherents. With the growing diversity of American settlers on the frontier and within the states, the charismatic leaders of the Second Great Awakening reached out to the common man. Although there is no specific date that pinpoints the inception o... ... middle of paper ... Finney, Charles Grandison. Lectures on Revivals of Religion. New York: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2009. Accessed April 21, 2014. Hatch, Nathan O. The Democratization of American Christianity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Wayland, Francis. “The Duties of an American Citizen: Two Discourses, Delivered in the First Baptist Meeting House in Boston, on Thursday, April 7, 1825, the Day of Public Fast.” Accessed April 21, 2014. Weld, Theodore Dwight. “American Slavery as it is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses.” Documenting the American South. Accessed April 22, 2014.
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