How did the Second Great Awakening affect temperance?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The temperance movement was born largely as a result of the Second Great Awakening. A significant element in the Second Awakening was the "Social Gospel," the belief that being a good Christian involved a certain degree of responsibility to one's fellow man and woman. The Temperance movement was a substantial factor in the social gospel.

Prior to the Second Awakening, American consumption of whiskey averaged three gallons per person per year. It was largely because of problems caused by alcohol consumption (domestic difficulties, poverty, suicide) that a group of Boston ministers formed the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance in 1826. The society members gave speeches and held essay contests on the evils of alcohol. Interestingly, although drunkenness was always considered sinful, this was the first time that consumption of alcohol in any form was considered sinful. Members of the society were asked to sign cards whereby they pledged never to consume alcohol. They were told to add a "T" after their signature signifying "total abstinence." (Hence the term "T-Teetotaller.") In 1833 the American Temperance Union was formed which opposed the consumption of "demon whiskey." By reason of the society's efforts, consumption of alcohol in the U.S. was reduced substantially.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Second Great Awakening, which took place around 1800 in the United States, was a reaction to the deist movement during the Enlightenment and sought to revive religious fervor. The movement was in part inspired by Romanticism and its emphasis on feeling over reason. Some people believed that the Second Great Awakening would usher in the Second Coming of Christ and wanted to prepare the world for this event through reform.

As a result, the Second Great Awakening was the springboard for many reform movements, including abolitionism. Temperance was one of the many efforts at reform that came from the Second Great Awakening, as reformers, most of them Protestant, believed that alcohol caused moral degeneration. Many temperance movements developed in both the United States and England, and, over time, the movements went from advocating moderation in drinking to advocating total abstinence from drink.