1775 Church Membership at the End of the Colonial Period


Map Code: Ax00569

By 1775 many pre-revolutionary British colonial American churches had embraced evangelism after a religious revival, known as the Awakening, which swept the English-speaking world in the 1740s. The early British colonists, who settled along the eastern seaboard, were Church of England Protestants or its critics, the Puritans. By mid-century, there was disillusionment with the established church clergy who were part of a wealthy and privileged elite. Preachers travelled from Great Britain to mass open-air revivals using song and prayer to enthral audiences with their vision of a ‘new birth’. The ‘new birth’ contention was that religious experience should be felt and everyone, the poor as well as the rich, were equal. Many evangelists denounced slavery, making it appeal to black Americans. A significant number of the non-adherents to the institutionalized churches of the era found the evangelical message appealing. After Independence, many became Methodists, joining the Baptist movement.

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