Abstract

In 1787, Jacob Norton became pastor of a somewhat moribund Congregational parish in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Like other parishes of the region in the postrevolutionary era, it lacked for new members. By 1804, Norton and his parishioners found themselves awash in revival activity that produced an abundance of new members. This essay uses Norton's situation in Weymouth during these years, as well as his reading diaries, to examine how the print revolution of the 1790s in New England related to the shift in sensibility scholars have come to call "the Second Great Awakening." I argue that the expansion of the world of print that Norton and those like him experienced had a direct impact on their willingness to see local events as part of a much larger spiritual and political movement. The wide dissemination of new types of printed materials, especially regionally published periodicals, created a shared sensibility among New England evangelicals led to the construction of a shared "social imaginary." Norton and his Weymouth parish provide a case study in the role print played in the initial reconstruction of the ideological world of the earliest cohort of Congregational evangelicals, whose efforts within a generation gave rise to the Benevolent Empire.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1553-0620
Print ISSN
0275-1275
Pages
pp. 221-248
Launched on MUSE
2006-05-08
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.