US History/Religious Movements

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The Second Great Awakening[edit]

The Second Great Awakening occurred in the first decades of the 19th century. During it, there was increased religious fervor, with many people joining existing religions or founding new religions, such as Mormonism. During the Second Great Awakening, thousands of people gathered at large religious meetings called revivals. The people of the Second Great Awakening thought they could bring about a Golden Age in America through religion (millenialism). It was centered mostly in the "Burned-Over District" of upstate New York. Key people in it were Lyman Beecher, Henry Ward Beecher, Charles Grandison Finney, Theodore Dwight Weld, and Joseph Smith. The Second Great Awakening was tied in to several major reform movements, including temperance and abolition. It was also the first time that women played a major role in religious movement.


The Methodist society continued to develop through the Revolutionary War, although with setbacks due to the connection with the Anglican Church. The third Annual Conference took place in Philadelphia in May of 1775 at the same time as the Second Continental Congress took place. The Annual Conferences were known as the "Christmas Conferences". They were held annually on December 24. The Methodists followed the Church of England so they were in a predicament during the Revolution. Wesley believed in obedience to the divine governance of God. Many restrictions were placed on the society by various colony governments. Colony governments feared the Methodism connection to the Anglican Church. Francis Asbury, the general assistant, was the head of the Methodist movement in America. Asbury moved to Delaware to seek refuge during the war. In 1778, Judge White was arrested for being a Methodist with connections to Asbury. Weslyan influence over the society declined over the course of the war.

Independence and Separation from the Anglican Church[edit]

The Baltimore Christmas Conference in 1784 resulted in the formation of the Episcopal Church. The American Methodists were now members of their own church, rather than a society that follows the Church of England. Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke were the superintendents of the Church. In 1778, Asbury changed his title from Superintendent to Bishop of the church. John Wesley was outraged with this and wrote Asbury a letter to have him change his title back. Asbury did not and this led to the complete separation of Weslyan with the Episcopal Church. Francis Asbury was a salesman of Methodism, he traveled constantly and was deeply involved in the spread of Church. He and others whom he selected to be circuit riders traveled with the expansion of as America was expanding, so was Methodism; Asbury and circuit riders traveled along with the expansion to spread their influence. Asbury was very successful in spreading the religion across the country. Methodism appealed to the lower classes and outcasts of society. It also was quite popular on the American frontier, where circuit riders preached in rural areas.


Once the Jews from Brazil were given permission to immigrate to America, a few more followed them. They came to America from France, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and European colonies. Some of them also came from Spain and Portugal. Also, many of the Jews that came to America from Spain and Portugal were known as Conversos, or "Crypto-Jews." These people converted to Christianity in order to save their lives after the Inquisition of the late 1400s.

Between the years of 1820 and 1880, the U.S. economy was changing, the population was growing, and the immigrant Jews were helping to create goods to sell. Men, usually from their late teens and early twenties were eager to work and make a living. Many of them became peddlers, and many other Jewish men sold second-hand clothing, cheap jewelry, dishes, buttons, needles, and thread. The Jewish men were hoping to sell these items to make a profit to buy farming tools as well as nice goods to sell. Over many years, these peddlers who were making a meager living eventually saved enough to start banks, factories, and retail stores. Actually, many major department stores, such as Macy's, Altman's, Rich's, and Bloomingdale's were begun by German Jewish immigrants.

While the Jews were in America, the American Revolution had begun. One-hundred Jews fought against the British. Also, by 1800, there were about twenty-five hundred Jews in the U.S. and Charleston had about five hundred--- the largest Jewish community by that time.

(Stone, Amy. Jewish Americans. Milwaukee: World Almanac Library, 2007. Print.).

The Start of the 1800s[edit]

The 1830s was a time where millions of people poured into the old southwest and northwest, although the federal government promoted westward expansion. It was a time where Indians were being removed from their land and sent to the west which was called the trail of tears. It was also a time were slavery was common. There were over 2 million slaves in the United States. This time period was when territories were becoming states and the idea of manifest destiny was becoming a national idea.