Charles Finney and the Great Awakening 1790–1875

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Map Code: Ax02421

Following the American Revolution (1757–87) the new republic’s rapidly expanding population moved westward, outrunning the structures of the old hierarchical churches. The Baptists and Methodists flourished in this new climate. The newly independent American states were committed to a policy of open religious toleration while denying special privileges or official establishment to any denomination. The revivalists eagerly seized the opportunities that this new world offered. The result was a new wave of revivals known as the second Great Awakening, traditionally traced to the Cane Ridge revival in Kentucky in 1801. “Second awakening” missions often focused on “camp meetings”, a kind of outdoor religious firm, which attracted large crowds, and lasted several days. These gatherings involved singing, dancing and emotional testifying. The evangelist Charles Grandison Finney (1792–1875) was a former lawyer, who underwent religious conversion and conducted emotional revivals throughout the state of New York, especially in cities such as New York. He eventually moved to Ohio where he founded a new religious school.

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