The Second Great Awakening

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What role did the second great awakening have in forming American Nationalism in the 19th century?

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The Second Great Awakening was a period of increased religious and social activities during the 19th century in America. This period saw the emergence of new denominations and fervent activities in existing ones. It was a period of revival with people gathering in camp meetings to hear sermons by the evangelists. Apart from preaching the gospels the evangelists, passionately preached about the need for a strong work ethic, economical living, and self-control among the growing middle class.

They also preached about the need to alleviate suffering and advocated for issues such as the end of slavery, prison reforms, and suffrage among other socially pressing issues.

These issues formed the rallying point for Americans and evolved into strong social activism groups. Participation in advocacy and religious revival enhanced the peoples’ sense of nationalism and unity. This helped achieve major social reforms and democratization of the nation because the process was people driven for the well-being of the country.

The noise was like the roar of Niagara. The vast sea of human beings seemed to be agitated as if by a storm. I counted seven ministers, all preaching at one time, some on stumps, others on wagons ... Some of the people were singing, others praying, some crying for mercy. A peculiarly strange sensation came over me. My heart beat tumultuously, my knees trembled, my lips quivered, and I felt as though I must fall to the ground. (Description of a camp meeting by a young man in attendance, Kentucky 1802)

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