The First Great Awakening Questions and Answers

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What was the social and political impact of the Great Awakening?

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The impact of the Great Awakening on colonial American social and political life was immense. Traditionally, American society was hierarchical, based as it was on the structures of English society. Though colonial America was generally thought to be a good deal more egalitarian in its outlook than the mother country, there was still a recognizable hierarchy in place, with political life firmly in the hands of a recognizable social elite.

The Great Awakening made American society much more open; less vertical, more horizontal. This mass religious revival took place from the bottom up, so to speak. It was a movement of the common people, not the elite. Indeed, the social elite, almost all of whom belonged to the established Church of England, looked down on those who participated in the Great Awakening, regarding them with contempt as religious fanatics.

The long-term political consequences of the Great Awakening were no less far-reaching. The common folk of colonial America had shown that...

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