Talk:Second Great Awakening

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I'm not sure I'd agree with merging Old/New Lights with this article - they are usually associated with the First, not the Second Great Awakening. Perhaps some disucussion of Old and New School Presbyterians would be helpful, though.


And the terms are more general than the use here. I've expanded Old Lights as an example; if there are no objections, I'll eventually merge New Light into Old Lights, and remove all the merge tags.
-- TimNelson 10:16, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Done -- TimNelson 12:01, 24 April 2007 (UTC)


Blocks of this text show up in Google, at:

Does it have copyright problems?

This article is copied in several places on the internet, and with each new copy I believe that an historical inaccuracy is perpetuated. It claims that observers of the Second Awakening revivals in the East were "awed by the respectful silence" of those bearing witness to their faith. This does not appear to be true — however, I'll leave it there until I can find solid proof. I used to have a quote, which I believed was the original source of this misquote, which I took to say almost precisely the opposite. I'll see if I can find it. Otherwise, the article is dense with good information, IMO. — Mkmcconn

Contrary to the paragraph:

There was dancing, running and singing - all of which Stone said were manifestations of God's presence. The noise of the meetings was so great that some said "the noise was like the roar of Niagara."

Supporting the paragraph:

"In the east, Yale University experienced a revival of Biblical Christianity under President Timothy Dwight, Jonathan Edwards' grandson. Christianity was almost nonexistent then at Yale, the campus church almost extinct. For four years Dwight preached a series of weekly sermons on Christian belief; when he finished the series, he started over again. Finally, in 1801, after seven years of preaching, revival came to Yale. At least half of the student body was converted to Christianity under Dwight's Presidency. One college tutor wrote home to his mom, "Yale College is a little temple; prayer and praise seem to be the delight of the greater part of the students while those who are still unfeeling are awed with respectful silence." [1]

The contrast here is between the experience-centered revivals of Cane Ridge, and the college-centered revivals in the eastern states. But even in this, does the quote really say what the entry has taken it to say? Are the unbelieving students in awe of the respectful silence kept by those who testify to their faith? Or isn't the reporter, in plainer English, writing to tell his mother that even those who are not part of the revival of religion at the college are not speaking out against it or mocking it, but respectfully keep their mouths shut. I'm considering how to change the entry. — Mkmcconn

I've deleted the paragraph. Mkmcconn 19:39 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

Second Great Awakening[edit]

Can we put some dates on this? Is ca, 1790- 1840 realistic?

It depends on who's doing the telling. The Cumberland Presbyterians date the revival from around 1795 (numerous presbyteries passed several resolutions to pray for revival, beginning around 1790, or so). The Stone-Campbell people date it from 1800/1801 (Cane Ridge). The end is harder to point to. Mkmcconn (Talk) 04:44, 11 July 2005 (UTC)
Would it be reasonable to put the endpoint at 1844 with the Great Disappointment?? Ansell 08:51, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
yes but that only affected a small group of Millerites. the next awakening has to start 1857 so we better end this one in 1840s Rjensen 09:34, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

This article needs dates.

Suggested Revision: The first sentence of this article states the dates as 1790-1840 and then claims that it "was a period of great religious revival that extended into the antebellum period." If you follow the link of antebellum period ("the time period in America from after the birth of the United States to the start of the American Civil War") and use the provided definition, the Second Great Awakening didn't extend into the antebellum period, it took place entirely within that period. Just a thought.


Does anyone know why this happened? It would be hard to believe it's just a big coincidence... --euyyn 07:47, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

I've just found something about this here --euyyn 07:50, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

And this in History of the LDS:

This "awakening" was a Christian response to the secularism of the Age of Enlightenment, and extended throughout the United States, particularly the frontier areas of the west.

I hope to find something more scattered in other articles before I try to add it to the article. --euyyn 00:44, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Louis P. Masur, 1831: Year of Eclipse.

"But with this growth [referring to the expansion of the United States, Westward development, etc.]came discord. The middle class divided on political and religious issues and united against the labouring classes on moral questions such as the consumprion of alcohol. The story repeated itself in scores of other towns and cities. With expansion and wealth came dissension and strife. Only a revival of religion, many believed, could preserve the nation "from our vast extent of territory, our numerous and increasing population, from diversity of local interests, the power of selfishness, and the fury of sectional jealousy and hate." page 66. quoting from Lyman Beecher "Necessity of Revivals."

You should also look at Joyce Appleby's "Inheriting the Revolution" which talks about how the 2nd Great Awakening interacted with republican ideas of progress and self-development. Both civic and religious reformers saw mankind as flawed, capable of being reformeed, and that that reform must start from the self. This fit well with republican virtues, even if religious involvement with the state did not. Cherbert18 20:17, 15 January 2007 (UTC) Aimzzz (talk) 21:18, 1 August 2009 (UTC) Also, there are *no* citations in the last 3 sections: Appalachian, Prominent figures, Political implications —Preceding unsigned comment added by Aimzzz (talkcontribs) 21:16, 1 August 2009 (UTC) I agree and have edited the Political Implications of the article. This article seems to be unfocused because it does not place the revival movement within a larger framework social experimentation. It completely ignores the great importance of marriage, conception and sexual control , that were more important practical matters, in all of these groups. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:41, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Asahel Nettleton[edit]

Just observed that as yet there is no Wikipedia page for Asahel Nettleton (17831844) who was one of the most influential figures during the Second Great Awakening. This is a plea for someone to take up the task. [2] gives a cameo. [3] is a brief biographical sketch. To prepare such an article, the user is directed to the invaluable book by Andrew A. Bonar and Bennet Tyler. DFH 19:18, 20 July 2006 (UTC)


Does anyone have information on whether Swedenborgianism was involved in the SGA? The English church had missionaries in the United States about this time. WBardwin 06:53, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

Controversy and Generations[edit]

I have a couple of questions/comments about this article

1. Why is no mention made of the fact that the Second Great Awakening is a controversial term among historians? Many feel lumping various 19th century religious movements under that term (and implicitly making a connection to the original "Great Awakening") is a huge mistake. I think this should be discussed, and I might try to work on this in the future.

2. What is up with the "generations" box on the right? I know the Strauss and Howe book and found it interesting, but implicitly tying the Second Great Awakening to some made-up list of American generations is completely bizarre and practically constitutes original research, since this was apparently not one of the "generations" which Strauss and Howe used. Can we delete this from the article? Historians of this period would, I think, shudder at its inclusion.--Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 19:55, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

No replies, and I have gone ahead and removed the generations template. I find the entire template to be bizarre and probably worthy of deletion, but it certainly does not belong here. The Second Great Awakening is not a "generation" and is not even referred to as such by Strauss and Howe, nor anyone else as far as I am aware. As I mentioned above, the very term "Second Great Awakening" is so controversial among historians that referring to it as a "generation" is even more ridiculous. We're making stuff up out of whole cloth here. I'm theoretically open to arguments for including this template in the article, and I think such arguments need to be offered before the template is reinstated. Arguments like "it's a useful template" or "the Second Great Awakening is included in the template" will obviously not be convincing.--Bigtimepeace | talk | contribs 19:20, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
The Strauss and Howe fan club is really out of control. They behave as if anyone reads their books. It's spread like a virus onto many pages on wikipedia and needs to be monitored.
More importantly, WHO CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF A SECOND GREAT AWAKENING????? This seems like a very biased, point of view, article, with little basis in reality. I know of no US Historians who take the term seriously. This article needs citations or it needs to die. I'm sorry, but it's not fair to promote the idea of a "Second Great Awakening" as if it's a fact. SAYS WHO? Very unhappy with this article. I'd like to see this article's fans come up with some firm backing. --Dylanfly 16:45, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
P.S. The citations which mention "Great Awakening" include articles from 1970, 1980. The Hankins book sold so poorly that it never came out in paperback. So does this "great awakening" exist?


This page has been vandalised but I don't know enough about the topic to repair it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wayne Stewart (talkcontribs) 04:06, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Alexander Campbell[edit]

Alexander Campbell never affiliated with the Baptists, so I changed his denomination to Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) which is the denomination that he founded. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Copywriter2001 (talkcontribs) 01:32, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

Ellen White[edit]

Ellen White was described as a false prophet, which I have changed to not cause offense to Seventh-day Adventists ( including myself )! Verisate (talk) 10:47, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Mormonism and Seventh Day Adventist should be seperated out.[edit]

Firstly, since there was no Mormonism or Seventh Day Adventist belief during the first great awakening it stands to reason they were CREATED during the 2nd great awakening rather then part of the CAUSE.

Secondly, The great awakening is a reference to the return to basic traditional Christianity not new streams. That could be included in it's own topic. Mormonism includes "new" revelation only contained in The Book of Mormon and is rejected by tradition Christianity. Seventh Day Adventist also have beliefs that are not considered mainstream Christianity which is what the great awakenings were about; a return to not a divergence from.

Davf (talk) 05:09, 25 February 2009 (UTC)Davf

= Creedance Clearwater Revival Church?[edit]

The current article contains a reference to a "Creedence Clearwater Revival" Church. That name coincides with the name of a famous rock band. One might guess that maybe the band was named after the church, but the band's article says its name was invented in 1967 by combining "Creedence" from a person's name, "Clearwater" from a beer commercial, and "Revival" to symbolize the members' commitment. No church of this name can be found via Google. It seems quite surprising that a band name independently invented in 1967 would just happen to coincide with the name of a church from the 1800s, so I wonder if the presence of this name in the article might be the result of vandalism. (talk) 03:02, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I also just noticed this change and reverted it. The change was made in [[4] edit from April 24, 2006. I reverted it back to the original which was Gasper River church. --Scottmsg (talk) 03:06, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
The "Creedence Clearwater Revival" church was referenced in Timothy Beal's "Religion in America: A Very Short Introduction" (Oxford University Press, p. 75). However the book was published in 2008, and he likely found this bit of info from this vandalized article between 2006 and 2009. Bryanjjones (talk) 19:43, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

Benevolent Empire[edit]

I'm currently trying to edit a page called Benevolent Empire. Just wanted to list it here in case there is someone interested in developing that page. I came to it to 'wikify', but it is in need of a lot of editing. More facts required, and a more neutral tone. I've added a photo and rewritten the intro for neutrality. However, I don't know enough about the subject to bring any more factual detail to it. It seems to be focused on the social reforms developed or increased during the Second Awakening, but it's not written clearly, mostly just reiterating how wonderful it all was. Nihola (talk) 04:22, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

Do Mormons "proclaim their roots in the Second Great Awakening"??[edit]

The current text of the "Church membership soars" section of the article lists The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as being "Among the new denominations that were formed, and which in the first decade of the 21st century still proclaim their roots in the Second Great Awakening". I doubt many people (either Mormon or not) would agree with this; Mormons (of whom I happen to be one) would generally say that the LDS Church's links to the Second Great Awakening are of a distinctly secondary nature, and many non-Mormons would also object to the suggestion. Is this really what the cited source says? Richwales (talk · contribs) 21:42, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

the Mormons were not revivalists, but they did emerge from the same Burned-Over district of religious ferment and experimentation that supported other revivalists. Many recent scholars root the Mormons in the ferment of the 2nd Great Awak. (Remini 2002; Hankins, 2004; Slaughter 2005; Nielson 2009, etc) Rjensen (talk) 22:47, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't question that the origin and rise of Mormonism was intertwined with the Second Great Awakening. I was just objecting to the idea that Mormons consider themselves to be a product of the S.G.A. in the same sense that revivalist denominations do. I think the new text (with "Among the new denominations that were rooted in the religious ferment of the Second Great Awakening") is a definite improvement over the earlier version. Richwales (talk · contribs) 16:26, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

Misleading graph[edit]

The graph here is possibly misleading, as it shows church membership in absolute numbers, and without reference to the general population, which I presume was also growing for the period in question. This could be remedied by changing the data to show membership as a percentage of the population, or else adding the total general population as another data series. —Psychonaut (talk) 08:17, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, the graph is very lacking. It's completely uncited and very dubious. The vertical scale is unlabeled and ambiguous. Is it the number of denominations or the number or people?. (If it's "denominations" it seems like too much. If it's "people" it seems like too little.) It only shows three data points over time, making it's claim of a sharp rise inadequately demonstrated. The proportions of each sect remains equal throughout the period while one would expect the proportions to change. The graph ignores ordinary population growth. Over that 80 years, the U.S. population went from 2,780,000 to 31,443,000 (see Demographic_history_of_the_United_States). That's a factor of 11.8! Assuming the vertical axis is number of people, the graph shows about 3000 at the beginning of the period and about 40,000 at the end of the period. That's a factor of 13.3. The growth supposedly shown by the graph is almost entirely accounted for by population growth. The remaining difference is in the noise and unnotable. Population grows exponentially accounting for the "sharp increase".
According to the graph, in 1860, 40000 people were members of a denomination. Out of a population of 31,443,000, that's only 0.13%. So maybe the vertical axis doesn't represent number of people. Since 40,000 seems crazy high for the number of denominations, maybe it means the number of "parishes". That makes more sense, but the vertical axis is still ambiguous (unlabeled). There are only three data points in time. The denomination proportions dubiously don't change. Number of parishes would be expected to grow as the country grows in land area which is unaccounted for. The whole thing is someone's "own work" which is completely uncited.
I'm removing the graph for the above reasons. It's way below standards. The "2nd great awakening" may have been a real phenomenon, but this graph doesn't illustrate it. (talk) 14:51, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
I fixed it. The graph shows number of local congregations and is based on the data at James A. Henretta; et al. (2010). America's History, Combined Volume. Bedford/St. Martin's. p. 259.  . The average membership of congregations also increased--we know from Baptist and Methodist data-- but no one has compiled national data for that. Rjensen (talk) 17:08, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
I did a brief summary analysis, basically just adjusting denominations per capita (from the graph currently in use) with US population figures from Demographics_of_the_United_States. See my (Data table) and (Graph). Granted, I'm no statistician, but the growth in denominations doesn't really look that significant -- look at "Denominations per Capita (x1000)". Thoughts? RideABicycle (talk) 01:30, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes. Rjensen fixed its lack of a source and better clarified what it's the number of (which is all very good), but the the main deficiencies remain unchanged. Thank you, RideABicycle. Your adjusted chart illustrates the point perfectly. The "sharp rise" purported by the caption is still almost completely accounted for by population growth. This graph, as presented, is a perfect example of "How to lie with statistics". The actual reliable information presented here when properly adjusted is completely unnotable for inclusion.
If someone wants to illustrate the 2nd GA with data, then it should be done right. This graph as it is is bunk. Maybe the source has better explanation for the graph, maybe the graph is just badly reproduced from the source. If so, it should be improved before reinstating. Extremely dubious, unnotable when properly adjusted. If the source is actually reliable, and if the source data is illustrative of the point trying to be made, then it should be easy to fix before reinstating. WP policy puts burden of proof on reinstatement in such cases, but again that should be easy -- so fix it instead of simply replacing such a graph.  :-)
If the source doesn't correct for population, then the source too may be addled by inability to properly process and present data. If the source also tries to make the same point (with the same unadjusted data), then the source should be disregarded as unreliable. If that's the case, the graph should be removed and not be replaced. (talk) 22:32, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Role of Women and other revisions[edit]

I have a few edits I would like to make to this article, as a result of research on current scholarship on the second great awakening done for a college course. I just wanted to run my ideas by the talk page before I changed anything.

Most importantly, I want to add a section on women’s roles in the Second Great Awakening. Although most were not formally indoctrinated and acted in their status quo role as wives and mothers, women's role in the Awakening is an influential one. Women represented the majority of the converts, and, although they didn’t have formal roles, informally through family structure and their maternal roles, they became very important in the conversion process and religious upbringing of their children. I also want to add information about women’s roles in the reform movements talked about in the culture and society section.

I would also flesh out and clarify the section on implications, and add more background in the beginning on causes of the Awakening and place it in a larger context. In addition, I propose moving the second part of the prominent figures section (“The great revival quickly spread…The Awakening influenced numerous reform movements, especially abolitionists.”) either in whole or in part to the introduction. Akh829 (talk) 16:40, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Missing lede[edit]

Is it possible this topic can be defined somehow? Kortoso (talk) 22:34, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Thank you! Kortoso (talk)

LDS section[edit]

I removed the following (which was below the See Also section and was placed by LDSboy)

The LDS Church
Joseph Smith asked questions during this period about which church to join, after reading the verse from James 1:5 which says "IF any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.[1] He then went into the sacred grove and prayed asking of God which church to join. He was answered to join none of them, but to continue until directed further. He was then visited by an angel, Moroni, who helped to further the work of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and restored the priesthood.

The ref just goes to the Bible so it is unreferenced by our standards If the LDS church is linked by reliable sources to the 2nd awakening and this was referenced, then this might be included (above the See also section). Smallbones(smalltalk) 14:11, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Krakauer, John. Under the Banner of Heaven. New York: Penguin Random House, 2011. Refers explicitly to the founding of Mormonism as an outgrowth of the "Second Great Awakening." Krakauer is a hostile author to the general subject of his book and an extremely skeptical author toward Mormonism, if not religion. (The book is about fundamentalist LDS churches that have splintered off from, and been tacitly tolerated by, the main church.) So there's a reference. I don't really feel like doing the re-reading at this time for this reference, but it's quite early in the book. Of course, any dewy eyed POV account of the saintly founder founding in saintliness in inappropriate for Wikipedia, but citing the founding of Mormonism to the Second Great Awakening, and contemporary use of the lemma, is easy. Hithladaeus (talk) 14:32, 19 May 2015 (UTC)


The last sentence of the intro is grammatically incorrect, and I don't know how to fix it. deisenbe (talk) 21:03, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

New York[edit]

The Burned-over district section refers to "New York". To the undersigned Brit, "New York" means the city, and we call the state "New York State". Unless Americans generally assume that "New York" refers to the state, I think this should be changed. Maproom (talk) 21:52, 1 September 2015 (UTC)


Not a regular editor, so I'd appreciate it if someone with more experience could handle this.

Excerpt from the top of the page: "The movement began around 1790, gained momentum by 1978 and, after 1820..."

Looks to me like 1978 is a transposition of the date 1798 - can someone correct this?

  1. ^