Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Preface to the Paperback Edition

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pp. ix-xi

Thirty years ago I entered graduate school at the University of Virginia, and that first semester I wrote a seminar paper on James McGready and the Great Revival. The previous spring, an undergraduate anthropology course at Rice University entitled "Primitive Religion" had introduced me...

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xix

The genesis of the great revival of religion which swept across the South in the opening years of the nineteenth century has been explained primarily in terms of geography and emotion. Too often students have focused only on the immediate beginnings of the revival in the Cumberland region of...

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1. The Setting

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pp. 1-11

The two decades following the American Revolution were years of transition for the major religious denominations in the South. The Anglican Church, enervated before the Revolution largely by a debilitating blindness to popular needs, emerged from the conflict in a precarious position.1 Long...

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2. The Feeling of Crisis

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pp. 12-24

For most American clergymen, the final years of the eighteenth century were freighted with despair. These were the suspicious times when orthodox New Englanders saw a Tom Paine deist behind every door and a French infidel lurking in the shadows. Lyman Beecher found the Yale of I793 "in...

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3. The Theory of Providential Deliverance

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pp. 25-35

For the southern clergymen apprehensive about the future of Christianity, their fears had a significance much larger than mere personal worry. This perception was integrated into their overall belief system. Their understanding of how God worked in this world and how man erred in life...

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4. Portents of Revival

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pp. 36-50

The climate of ideas, beliefs, and hopes out of which the Great Revival in the South developed is more important than the location or circumstances of its actual beginning. Yet from a small start in Logan County, Kentucky, the revival gained momentum and symbolic meaning until it was...

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5. Kentucky Ablaze

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pp. 51-69

At the close of the eighteenth century, Kentucky, with the rest of the South, had reached the point where dozens of ministers and thousands of church members were convinced that God would some day send his glorious deliverance.1 Prayer societies, fasts, intense and urgent sermons, all were...

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6. The South Conquered

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pp. 70-89

For too long "the Great Revival" has meant, to most historians, only those hysterical "holy fairs" associated with Kentucky, Cane Ridge, and simple frontiersmen who wanted their whiskey straight and their religion red-hot. It should be obvious by now that there was present a pervasive, strongly believed...

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7. The Changing Revival Image

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pp. 90-110

When after a long decade of religious decline the camp meetings first came to the fore, they were almost universally greeted as the welcome vanguard of God's returning mercy. Within several years, however, some of the more orthodox clergy began to withdraw their approval, while others, still more...

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8. Homiletics & Hymnology

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pp. 111-124

"As to the Idea of sermonizing," scribbled a Methodist itinerant in 1803, "I thought but little about it, It concerned me but little, the Idea was to go out and call Sinners to come to Christ, that they might be saved from Sin here, and saved in heaven for ever here-after."1 Calling sinners to Jesus...

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9. A Theology of Individualism

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pp. 125-142

In practically every aspect, the fundamental emphasis of the popular churches in the South was individualistic. For neither Baptist, Methodist, nor Presbyterian did the idea of the church mean a universal institutionalized body. Instead, whenever they spoke of the church, they meant the local...

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10. Unity & Schism

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pp. 143-164

The three major denominations shared their most important doctrines. Each accepted the idea of a perfect God who was the moral governor of the universe. Man was inherently and infinitely sinful, unable by himself to effect reconciliation with God. Being merciful, God sent a deliverer, his...

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11. The Economic & Political Thought of Southern Revivalism

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pp. 165-182

It is difficult to believe that the common man of the South, who possessed few slaves, little education, and a provincial outlook, could have held even the rudiments of a conscious economic and political theory. His was largely a world of planting, reaping, and hunting; of the ax and plow; of...

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12. Revivalism & the Southern Evangelical Mind

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pp. 183-204

The revival movement declined rapidly after 1805. By that time practically everyone who could be reached and moved by the evangelical message had enjoyed the opportunity. Unlike upstate New York two decades later, the South had not reached the stage of agrarian maturity that could sustain...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 205-222

Index

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pp. 223-236

Image plates

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