The Second Great Awakening

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During the first half of the 19th century the effects of the Second Great Awakening and various reform movements swept the nation. This is shown by religious movements, and abolition. The Second Great Awakening was the religious movement in which individual responsibility for seeking salvation was emphasized, along with the need for personal and social improvement. Charles Grandison Finney, the most famous preacher of the era inspired emotional religious faith. He rejected the 18th-centurty belief that God predetermined whether a person went to heaven or hell. In order to test his “soul’s salvation,” Finney moved into the woods to be alone and returned undergoing a forceful emotional moment experience. (Doc.1) This led to the religious form of revivalism, an emotional preaching and prayer. Charles Revivalism had a strong impact on the nation leading to Church attendance doubling by 1850. Many individuals sought an alternate way to express their religious beliefs in a less public form unlike revivalism. Americans were taking new pride in their changing culture. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a writer, shared his pride by leading a group practicing transcendentalism. Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement emphasizing a simple life and the wonders of nature. Transcendentalism led to a literary movement that expressed American ideas of optimism, freedom, and self-reliance. Henry David Thoreau tested the idea of self-reliance by abandoning his life and moving to a cabin in the woods, where he lived alone for two years. He believed that if you had too many morals you could cheat yourself out of life. (Doc.2) He urged people to reject the greed and materialism in their lives. Henry David also inspired civil disobedience. He did not agree with the government so he refused to pay taxes causing him to go to jail. Civil disobedience was a way of protesting against the
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