The Businessmen's Revival

John Corrigan

in Business of the Heart

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780520221963
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924321 | DOI:
The Businessmen's Revival

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The Businessmen's Revival took place against a historical backdrop not only of previous revivals, but revivals in which young men and male heads of households played a central role. This chapter locates the revival within a long series of revivals in Boston, of “seasons of refreshment” that had visited the city over the preceding four decades. The centrality of the prayer meeting, the substantially diminished role of the clergy, the participation of young men, and the role of the press in promoting the excitement were characteristic features of the revival in Boston. Participants wept and petitioned God for favors in noon hour prayer meetings (and in other ones, too) where a code of emotional expression, of feeling rules, organized the nature of the assembly. Promoted as a symbol of unity, the revival was at least as much a platform for the assertion of specific group identities, including women, laity, whites, firemen, newsboys, the North, sailors—and the “young men.” In the several decades leading up to the great events of 1858, revivals were a more or less standard feature of Protestant life in Massachusetts, and especially in the Boston area. It had brought lay leadership and prayer to the forefront of religious life in Boston, and had afforded the opportunity for specific groups to publicly assert themselves, at the same time that it set into motion a rhetoric that valued equality, freedom, and unity.

Keywords: Businessmen's Revival; revivals in Boston; protestant identity; economic crisis; multidimensional ritual enactment

Chapter.  13318 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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