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The Second Great Awakening

            The Second Great Awakening was a religious impulse that swept through the nation post-1790s. The churches of the nation began to reject the Calvinistic belief of, "Pre-Destination," – the belief that one's salvation or damnation was predetermined at birth. Rather than preach "Pre-Destination" they emphasized individual responsibility for salvation and they preached that people could improve themselves and society. This led to a pursuit for perfection. The Second Great Awakening placed religion in the forefront of politics. Alexis de Tocqueville said that, "I found that Religion was the foremost of the political institutions of the United States." .
             The mediums that the preachers used to spread their messages were mostly large gatherings, where audiences counting into the 20,000s made camp to listen. The gatherings were called revivals. The revivals were emotional meetings that intended to awaken religious faith through passionate preaching and prayer. During these revivals, the participants would study the Bible, examine their souls, and hear emotionally charged teachings that would make them, "cry out, burst into tears, or tremble with fear," (Religion Sparks Reform Handout). Some of the most intense revivals would take place in western New York which became known as the, "Burned-Over," district because of the frequency of their religious fires. Catherine Brekus, in her overview of religious history in the nineteenth century, asserts that revivals were, "a crucial part of American nation-building, [as] a religious response to the political upheavals of the early national period." .
             The Second Great Awakening sparked an era of change, an era of spirituality, an Era of Reform. The Second Great Awakening led many to explore and experiment with a wide array of social reforms as ways to accomplish reform, whether it be through environmentalism, temperance, body reforms, transcendentalism, social utopias, or abolition.

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