America's Enlightenment and Great Awakening

America’s Enlightenment
and Great Awakening
A period marking the
contrasting ideas of intellectual
reason and religious
• The American Colonies
were the most literate
society in the world
(90% of males in NE,
40% of females)
• Literacy throughout
varied from 35-50%.
England averaged about
• Despite widespread
literacy books were
fairly rare; people were
moved by persons who
had the power of the
spoken word.
New Ideas
 Great advances in
Europe (Newton)
moved the world as
people became more
dependent on reason
to unlocking the
laws of nature.
Inspired others to
search for reason.
John Locke
• Character of individuals was not fixed
could be changed through education.
• Governmental power was not derived
through god to monarchs but rather
was derived from the need to preserve
“life, liberty, and property” of the
The Father of America’s
• Franklin and the Junto a
mutual improvement society,
bent on debate.
• Poor Richards Almanack: a
collection of essays, maxims,
and proverbs.
– Early to bed and early to
rise, makes a man healthy,
wealthy, and wise
– Well done is better than
Well said.
– A penny saved is a penny
earn ed
– There will be sleeping
enough in the grave.
Franklin’s Impact
 Other impacts:
started volunteer
fire department, first
library, founded the
college of
Philadelphia (now
Penn) which founded
the first medical
school. An elected
political leader,
judge. Led
innovations in
electricity, stoves
Founded the Philadelphia Library
The Philadelphia Hospital, the
nations first—courtesy of
Philadelphia Hospital
• "to care for the sick-poor and insane who were
wandering the streets of Philadelphia."
• "a melting pot for diseases, where Europeans,
Africans and Indians engaged in free exchange of
their respective infections."
• Franklin saved the day with a clever plan to counter
the claim by challenging the Assembly that he could
prove the populace supported the hospital bill by
agreeing to raise 2000 pounds from private citizens.
If he was able to raise the funds, Franklin proposed,
the Assembly had to match the funds with an
additional 2000 pounds. The Assembly agreed to
Franklin's plan, thinking his task was impossible, but
they were ready to receive the "credit of being
charitable without the expense."
• Franklin's fundraising effort brought in more than
the required amount.
American Philosophical
• American Philosophical
Society: 1743 (Jefferson a
later president) “all
philosophical experiments
that let light into the nature
of things tend to increase
the power of man over
matter, and multiply the
conveniences and pleasures
of life”.
• Other impacts: started
volunteer fire department,
first library, founded the
college of Philadelphia (now
Penn) which founded the
first medical school.
Electricity, stoves, etc…
• Deists: rational god
who created the
universe not to
• Religion? Viewed as
valuable as it
regulated morals.
• How does this
represent the
Great Awakening
• Began in the mid
1730’s, when
Americans had
fallen “asleep”
religiously and
needed awakening.
• Religion was an
emotionally charged
• Revivals were held
to restore the faith.
New Lights vs. Old Lights
New Lights
• Part of the new “revivals”
• Felt that religious
message had run astray.
• Baptists, Methodists, and
Old Lights
Traditional “old” beliefs
within the colonies.
George Whitfield
• His tours inspired
thousands to seek
salvation, after one
Connecticut tour the
population of the church
jumped from 630 in
1740 to 3,217 one year
• Franklin “that I emptied
my pocket wholly into
the collectors dish,
gold, silver, and all!”
Jonathan Edwards
 “The god that holds you
over the pit of Hell,
much as one holds a
spider or other
loathsome insect over
the fire abhors you…his
wrath toward you burns
like a fire; he looks
upon you as worthy of
nothing else but to be
cat into the fire.”
• James Davenport of New York
once preached to his audience
for 24 straight hours.
• The attacks of Gilbert Tennent
and others clearly eroded the
relationship between the
established clergy and the new
fire branders.
• Old lights condemned the
movement as violating the
reason of the enlightenment.
“sort of madness”
Impacts of the Awakening
• Decline of “Old light”
groups such as the Quakers,
Anglicans, and
• Increase of Presbyterians,
Baptists, and Methodists, all
revival groups of the period.
(American Protestantism)
Samson Occam:
Impacts of the Great Awakening
• Foundation of new colleges:
Princeton (New Light Presbyterians)
Kings College-Columbia (Anglicans)
College of Rhode Island-Brown (Baptists)
Queen’s College-Rutgers (Dutch Reformed)
Dartmouth (NH) Congregationalists
• Appeal to African and Native Americans,
there was little racism in the movement, by
1790 most blacks were Christians
• Religious toleration, the new protestant
movements were very willing to work