The Era of the Great Awakenings in Colonial America (1720–75)

Robert T. Handy

in A History of the Churches in the United States and Canada

Published in print January 1976 | ISBN: 9780198269106
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191683572 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

The Era of the Great Awakenings in Colonial America (1720–75)

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The Great Awakenings were dramatic and formative events in the history of Christianity in the thirteen English colonies which were to become the United States. These happenings, which began in the 1720s and continued in certain areas into the era of the Revolution, had an unequal effect on the many strands of American religion; some groups were profoundly affected while others were lightly or even negatively influenced. An important part of the story of the colonial revivals concerns their opponents, and the controversies which arose between them and the defenders of the Awakenings. The distinctive development of Christianity in the American colonies is the theme of this chapter. It specifically discusses the Awakening in the middle colonies, Awakening in New England, Awakening in the southern colonies, religious life outside the main currents of Awakening, and theological tensions. In general, the era of the Great Awakenings was marked by decisive changes in both church and national life.

Keywords: Great Awakenings; colonial America; Christianity; Revolution; American religion; American colonies; New England

Chapter.  17413 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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