The Middle Colonies

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What was religion like in the middle colonies?

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The middle colonies consisted of New York (previously New Netherlands), Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

They were one of the most religiously diverse regions in 17th and 18th century America. In fact, the First Great Awakening began in the Middle Colonies.

New York: New York played host to immigrants from the Scandinavian countries, France, Germany, Belgium, and England. In light of that, religious persuasions (in terms of Christian denominations) were diverse. There were Dutch Reformers, Congregationalists, Lutherans, and French Huguenots.

New Jersey: Like New York, New Jersey was home to a diverse immigrant population. So, there were Presbyterians, Quakers, Anglicans, Calvinists, and Seventh-Day Baptists.

Delaware: Delaware played host to Dutch Reformers, Quakers, Lutherans, and Baptists. George Whitefield (an Anglican minister) began his first evangelical tour in Lewes, Delaware, effectively spearheading the First Great Awakening in America. Whitefield (like many other preachers during this time) preached about an experiential faith and a strong personal connection to God. He was part of the New Lights faction (as opposed to the Old Lights).

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn and was the haven of Quakers of diverse persuasions. Within the Quaker denomination, there were evangelical, universalist, liberal, and conservative factions. The colony also welcomed smaller sects that experienced persecution for their beliefs, such as the Amish, Mennonites, Moravians, Roman Catholics, Jews, and the Dunkers. Meanwhile, larger congregations of Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Lutherans also formed a major portion of the faith structure in this colony.

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