Archive for the ‘Chapt. 5’ Category

Notable Rebellions in US history

NOTABLE REBELLIONS IN US HISTORY

As you review, consider what patterns emerge among these various uprisings, riots, and rebellions.

“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.”– Thomas Jefferson

Good golly, what if he had gotten his wish????

1663- Slave Uprising in Gloucester County, Virginia. in which both slaves and white indentured servants joined together to fight against their masters. Note that this occurred barely forty years after it was believed that the first Africans arrived on a Dutch ship in what would eventually be the United States.

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1676- Bacon’s Rebellion breaks out when former indentured servants on the Virginia frontier. Economic pressures  had led former servants to only be able to procure land for themselves on the frontier, where they were subject to attack at any moment from Indians upon whose lands they were often squatting. When the colonial government refused to help them defend themselves, grievance spilled over. That summer and fall, a force under Nathaniel Bacon carried out indiscriminate attacks on Indians, whether friend or foe.  But the grievances of Bacon’s men included more than Indian attacks for they also bitterly resented the privileges the elite FFVs enjoyed and their access to power, and especially criticized the governor, William Berkeley. Therefore, when Bacon’s attempt to negotiate better treatment for those on the frontier failed, he and his men marched on Jamestown itself and burned it along with several plantations. Who knows what would have happened if the rebellion hadn’t disintegrated when Bacon suddenly died of dysentery? Twenty-three of the rebels were hanged by Governor William Berkeley.  See  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1p274.html and, for a copy of Bacon’s “Declaration in the Name of the People,” see  “http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5800“.

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1689- After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 led to the overthrow of King James II, an armed uprising stormed the fort of Boston seeking the overthrow of Sir Edmond Andros in the Dominion of New England.  Andros had angered colonists by attempting to limit self-government, encouraging the adoption of the Church of England in place of the Puritan faith, strict enforcement of the Navigation Acts, and by enforcing these decrees with British soldiers who were perceived as being unruly and needlessly violent and disrespectful. Andros was arrested by the mob, and the short-lived Dominion of New England collapsed after only three years. Cotton Mather and other leading citizens issued a “Declaration of Grievances”  outlining why the colonists were justified in resenting the imposition of the Dominion.

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1689-91- Leisler’s Rebellion was led by militia captain Jacob Leisler in lower New York and was another outgrowth of the Glorious Revolution, much like the rebellion in Boston. New York was also made part of the Dominion of New England, and colonists there didn’t like it any better than those in Boston. Leisler overthrew the rule of the Lt. Governor, and created a new government based on direct representation. Leisler claimed to be maintaining power in the name of the new, Protestant rulers of England, William and Mary.  However, when William and Mary appointed a new overseer, Leisler refused to give up power, and British troops  captured him. He and his son-in law were convicted of treason, hanged, and then beheaded while still alive. Click HERE for a brief (1 minute!) video about Leisler’s Rebellion.

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1677-79- The Culpeper or Albemarle Rebellion broke out in response to stricter enforcement of the Navigation Acts after the end of salutary neglect. A group of frontiersmen led by John Culpeper and George Durant in the Albemarle region of South Carolina imprisoned the deputy governor and other royal officials, including customs inspector (collector of taxes, never a popular person) Thomas Miller.  They then elected their own legislature, elected Culpeper governor, and ran things for two years. Miller eventually escaped from jail, made it back to England, where he informed the Lords Proprietors of the events. Culpeper was arrested and tried for rebellion, but was acquitted, in part because one of the Lords Proprietors defended him and justified the rebellion due to the harshness of the colonial officials. After this rebellion, one of the Lords Proprietors himself took over as governor.

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1712- Slave Uprising in New York City in which about 25 armed slaves killed nine whites. Seven hundred were arrested. About twenty of the rebels were executed.

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1739- The Stono Rebellion was another slave uprising led by a slave named Cato from Stono, South Carolina. On September 9, 20 slaves met and planned to escape to freedom. They broke into a store, killed the two shopkeepers, and stone guns and the ingredients for ammunition. Reportedly,  60 to 100 slaves eventually ran into a white militia called out to repel them as they marched toward Spanish Florida. At least forty blacks and twenty-one whites died during the battle. As a result, South Carolina enacted a much harsher slave code that no longer allowed slave to assemble in groups or learn to read, among other things. This was the largest uprising of slaves prior to the Revolution. See  http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/jb/colonial/stono_1 or http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1p284.html

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1741- The New York Conspiracy was another slave rebellion in New York City that was feared, although it is doubtful whether any actions took place. Thirty-one slaves and four white accomplices were executed for supposedly planning an uprising.

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1763-66- Pontiac’s Rebellion broke out at the conclusion of the French and Indian War and raged throughout the Ohio Valley which had just been acquired from France for Britain. At the urging of an Indian religious leader who promised success if Indians would return to traditional ways, an Ottawa tribal chief named Pontiac soon gathered a confederation of Chippewa, Miami, Huron, Potawatomie, Delaware, and Seneca Indians to fight the establishment of British forts in the region. Ultimately, the Indians captured eight forts before the uprising lost force, and in 1766 a treaty was concluded. In response to this rebellion, however, the Proclamation of 1763 was issued by the British, enraging colonists, especially those who wished to settle in the rich Ohio River Valley. (Pontiac’s Rebellion also caused a violent uprising on the Pennsylvania frontier known as…

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1763-64- The Paxton Boys Uprising was a series of attacks by frontiersmen who  were angered by Pontiac’s Rebellion. These predominantly Scots-Irish  groups attacked any Indian settlements, regardless of whether they had attacked whites or not. When the Pennsylvania governor issued arrest warrants for the Paxton boys after they attacked a peaceful settlement of Conestoga Indians, killing six outright and later taking 14 captive (who were also later killed), the Paxton Boys then attacked a village of Indians who had been converted to Christianity by Moravian missionaries. When the Indians fled to Philadelphia and were protected by the government, the Paxton Boys then marched on Philadelphia in 1764, causing a panic in the City of Brotherly Love. Only Benjamin Franklin’s negotiations with representatives from the Paxton Boys caused the march to break up. Nonetheless, tension between hardscrabble frontiersmen (westerners) and wealthier, more politically connected citizens  (easterners)was obviously not something that was solved after Bacon’s Rebellion, as this uprising demonstrated. (see p. 90 in your text)

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1766-71- The Regulator Movement was an uprising in the Carolinas, once again between western frontier settlers and their wealthier, politically connected eastern counterparts, also known as the War of Regulation. It was felt that the laws and regulations that were enforced by the government were not fairly administered. This discontent was fed by the scarcity of money on the frontier. Eventually governor William Tyron called out the militia, and 2000 Regulators and 1,000 militia members fought at the Battle of Alamance on May 16, 1771. Although numerically superior, discipline and strategy was on the side of the better-trained militia, and after a two hour battle in which nine were killed on each side, the Regulators were defeated.  See  http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/nc/ncsites/Alamance.htm or this previous post on the blog for more info. (see p. 90 in your text)

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1764- Ethan Allen was the leader of the Green Mountain Boys, a military resistance unit that was formed  among settlers who did not want to see the takeover of what is now Vermont  and New Hampshire by New York. Using armed resistance, the Green Mountain Boys established a de facto government in lieu of the royally sanctioned authority of New York, which issued warrants for their arrest. When New York sent surveyors into the area they were forcibly detained and even beaten. When the Revolution broke out, however, the Green Mountain Boys and Ethan Allen  fought as a Vermont militia in the war, and when Vermont declared itself an independent nation in 1777, the Green Mountain Boys formed the basis for the Vermont Army.

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1773- The Boston Tea Party. Tea Tax from Champagne Charley Townsend. Dudes in the Sons of Liberty dressed like Indians (not convincingly, but points for effort). Six thousand pounds of tea floating around in Boston Harbor in just under three hours. British East India Company enraged even without Captain Jack Sparrow involved. Port of Boston closed as part of the Intolerable Acts.

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1786-87- Shays’ Rebellion broke out in western Massachusetts in the wake of a depressed national economy after the end of the Revolutionary War. Many of these farmers who had returned from the war practically penniless, and they greatly resisted the high property taxes that forced many of their number into foreclosure. Hardworking men saw their farms sold, and if that did not raise enough to pay off all their debts, they were subjected to the humiliation of court and possibly debtors’ prison. They feared that they would eventually become tenant farmers working for wealthy, well-connected landowners. Thus a strong populist flavor permeated the reasoning of the rebels.  Daniel Shays was a decorated Revolutionary War veteran who led the insurrection. He and his men marched on the debtors’ courts and forced them to close, which then alarmed creditors such as merchants and bankers, obviously. The problem was that the Confederation Congress could find no way to fund an army to restore order. The governor of Massachusetts, James Bowdoin, eventually had to use private funds to put down the insurrection. After a failed attempt to seize an arsenal, the rebellion collapsed, and many of its leaders fled to Vermont, which was not yet a state. Nonetheless, eventually 200 rebels were prosecuted for treason in 1787, and fiver were sentenced to hang. The governor lost re-election to John Hancock in the aftermath, and the five rebels sentenced to hang were paraded in front of the gallows before being given a last-minute pardon. Shays was pardoned as well, eventually, and died of old age. Shays’ Rebellion led many to conclude that the Confederation was too weak, and that radical measures would have to be taken to prevent similar uprisings in the future. The eventual consequence? The Constitutional Convention in 1787. But leftover anger from the rebellion caused Massachusetts to barely vote to ratify the new Constitution when it was put to a vote of the people in 1788. See http://www.calliope.org/shays/shays2.html.

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1794- the Whiskey Rebellion began in 1794 in Pennsylvania over a 1791 tax that was imposed upon whiskey distillers that was viewed as unjust, and especially unfair to small producers, who had to pay by the gallon, versus large distillers who paid a flat fee. Western farmers particularly resented this tax because it seemed to punish their habitual practice of turning their excess crops into whiskey to be sold. The tax was part of Hamilton’s financial plan to pay off the national debt (and promote the power of the federal government). After the protests turned into shooting and tarring and feathering of tax collectors, President Washington declared martial law and activated an army of militiamen from several states numbering almost 13,000. Washington and his former Revolutionary War aide Hamilton personally took control of the force and marched into western Pennsylvania. Once there, the main force of rebels melted away, but twenty alleged participants were arrested, and two were later sentenced to death for treason, although Washington commuted their sentences claiming one was an idiot and the other was crazy. The person who claimed leadership, a “Tom the Tinker,” was never found. This rebellion marked one of two times that a president has actually commanded troops in person, and showed that the federal government was strong enough to maintain itself, in contrast to that under the Articles of Confederation. Another consequence was that the common people came to feel that the Federalist party was out of touch with their concerns. The Whiskey Tax stayed on the book until 1803, although it was very difficult to collect, and many distillers then moved into the wilds of Kentucky and Tennessee, where they used corn instead to make bourbon.

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1800- Gabriel Prosser’s rebellion was to be led by Gabriel and his brother Martin in Virginia. They gathered 1,000 slaves and armed them with the intention of attacking the capital of Richmond. Prosser’s plan was leaked to authorities after weather caused a delay in enacting the planned attack, and Prosser and several of his followers were executed.

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1811- St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana was the location of a slave rebellion in January of this year in which 500 slaves rose up. One hundred slaves died in the ensuing mayhem.

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1816- Fort Blount, Florida was the site of a battle between US Army forces and a combined force of 300 runaway slaves and Indians.

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1822- Denmark Vesey’s Uprising was led by a free black man in Charleston, South Carolina, and was over before it began, as a slave informed his master of the plan before ti was actually enacted. The plan was believed to involve thousands of free and enslaved blacks, the mere possibility of which stunned local white officials. Vesey and thirty-six other conspirators were hanged after a very long series of trials.

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1831- Nat Turner was convinced by a solar eclipse in February of 1831 that it was a sign from God that he should kill his master to free himself. By August, he completed his plans for a hoped-for uprising, and proceeded to kill his master and his family. Only 75 slaves joined his rebellion, however, and 3,000 whites turned out to put down the insurrection. After Turner and his small force was stopped, about 100 other slaves apparently unconnected with the resurrection were killed as well as tensions and emotions ran high. Turner was executed on November 31, after hiding for six weeks.

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1859 –John Brown leads a raid with 21 other men on a federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry on October 16, Virginia, hoping to use the weapons to create a massive slave uprising. Although Brown captured the arsenal, the plot failed, and he was arrested by a force of Marines led by Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee, who had been on leave nearby. Brown was tried, for treason against the state of Virginia and executed, making him a “martyr for abolitionism.”

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1861-1865- Civil War, or as many Southerners liked to call it, “the War of Northern Aggression” (shudder) or “the Late Unpleasantness.”  Do I really need to explain this one?

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1863- The New York City Draft Riots erupted on July 11-13, 1863. The city was in the control of a powerful Democratic machine, and thus the Enrollment Act of Conscription which the Republican Lincoln passed was universally hated, including by the governor of New York. Unfortunately, the first draftees were being enlisted just as the news of the horrors of Gettysburg made the papers. Riots then broke out, predominantly among the Irish of the city , many of whom had no desire to fight to free blacks who would then compete with them for jobs at the bottom of the economic ladder. The damage from the riots was later estimated at more than one and a half million dollars, and no one knows exactly how many people died in the violence. In the end, Lincoln had to divert troops from fighting the Civil War to restore order in New York, and they had to remain in place to keep the peace. It is estimated that the hated conscription law only raised 150,00 men, most of them substitutes. See http://www.civilwarhome.com/draftriots.htm.

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1875-77- A General Labor Strike spread nationwide, centered primarily in the railroad industry. This strike had been building for several years, especially since the depression of 1873.  Workers forced to live in company towns suddenly saw their wages cut, often by at least 10%. In one instance, in 1875, the Reading Railroad cut wages to 54% of the 1869 levels, resulting in a strike that lasted 170 days. This was known as The Long Strike. The labor unrest  of the Long Strike of 1875 extended into the coal industry as well. A secret society known popularly as the Molly Maguires (its formal name was the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association) made up primarily of Irish who worked in the railroad industry, was blamed for  various actions of violence during the strike, and eventually nineteen were tried and executed for their activities. See http://www.providence.edu/polisci/students/molly_maguires/ for more info.

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1892- Homestead Strike– Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead, Pennsylvania steel plant was the site of a violent confrontation between striking workers and Pinkerton detectives after the workers armed themselves and occupied the plant. When the Pinkertons tried to attack via the Monongahla River, they were fired upon and captured. The Pennsylvania State Militia then attacked and won the release of the Pinkerton detectives, and the union was ruthlessly crushed.

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1909-12- The Black Patch War erupted over a specific rich tobacco grown in western Kentucky and Tennesse that the Duke  Tobacco tried to monopolize. Independent farmers responded to the monopolistic practices with an armed uprising that involved “Night Riders” attacking anyone or anything affiliated with the Duke Company. It took three years for the violence to end.

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Race riots: Too many to describe but here are some of the more famous ones after the turn of the 20th century:

Atlanta, GA 1906

East St. Louis, IL 1917

Tulsa, OK, 1921

Harlem, NY 1935

Detroit, MI 1943

Beaumont, TX 1943

Los Angeles, CA (the Zoot Suit Riots) 1943

Harlem, NY 1963

Watts, CA 1965

Detroit, MI, 1967

Newark, NJ 1967

Baltimore, Chicago, Louisville and Washington DC in the wake of the assassination of MLK

Los Angeles, CA 1992 (after the Rodney King incident)

Maps on French Colonization

New France before 1763

After the Seven Years’ War (the French and Indian War here…) here’s a map of how territory swapped hands…

Territorial changes after the French and Indian War

Study questions for 5-7 Test

These certainly aren’t the only things that may show up, but you should take some time to make sure you know the answers to these questions. Review your class notes as well. Make sure you have read the blog posts, and use the links for more info page if you need help!

What was the most effective method the colonists had to fight British economic policies toward the colonies?
Explain Christine Heyrman’s main point in her discussion of the 1st Great Awakening.
Why was there a massacre at Deerfield?
What exactly was the “triangular trade?”
Explain the concept of “virtual representation.”
Why were “Continentals” worthless? (insert jokes about suicide doors here, for those of you who are car fans….)
What were the main features of the 1st Great Awakening?
How did slavery affect the distribution of wealth in southern society?
What was the purpose of the Committees of Correspondence?
Compare the way American society was structured in relation to that in Europe?
What was the purpose of the Stamp Act, and why was it so resented?
Why did the colonists and the British differ so much on their understanding of the conduct and meaning of the French and Indian War?
Why did wives sometimes run away from their husbands in early colonial America, and how did their husbands respond?
Why did colonists so resent the issuance of the Proclamation of 1763? What was the reason why the British issued this proclamation?
What happened to the Puritan Church in the 18th century?
What was the reason for Americans’ attitudes toward the Navigation Laws?
What was the principle at stake in the Zenger case, and what was the outcome?
What were the reasons for the development of “benign” or “salutary neglect” and why did this period end?
Describe the Albany Plan of Union, and explain the difficulties that made its enactment unlikely.
What was the significance of General Braddock’s defeat at Fort Duquesne?
Why did France want to gain control of the Ohio Valley, according to both our discussion and your text?
Which professions were least and most respected in 19th century America, and why?
What were the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1763?
What does “established church” mean and why was this practice criticized? By whom?
Describe the main points of the theory of mercantilism.
What actions by the British helped to lead the colonies to rebel by 1775?
How did religious concerns lead to the founding of early American Colleges?
What were the responses of the colonies to the Stamp Act?
Why did the British want to try smugglers in admiralty courts?
Explain why the chart on p. 114 claims that there have been 9 world wars.
Why and in what context did the British Parliament pass the Declaratory Act?
Create a chart demonstrating the advantages and disadvantages of each side at the start of the American Revolution.
What were the main points of contention between the Old Lights and the New Lights?
What was the purpose of the Molasses Act?
How did the Enlightenment influence the 1st Great Awakening?
Explain the reasons for the start of the French and Indian War.
Outline the successes and failures of early attempts at unity by the colonists until 1775. Be thorough.
What were the Suffolk Resolves?
What was the context as well as the main idea of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances?
Who were the Regulators, and what caused their actions?
What was the basic purpose of the Navigation Acts, and how did these laws relate to the theory of mercantilism?

Quotes by Enlightenment Thinkers

“Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” – Second Treatise on Government, John Locke

“Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a “property” in his own “person.” This nobody has any right to but himself. The “labour” of his body and the “work” of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men. For this “labour” being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.” – Second Treatise on Government, John Locke

“In the state of nature, indeed, all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of the law.”- The Spirit of Laws, Baron de Montesquieu

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.” – The Spirit of Laws, Baron de Montesquieu

“Every man having been born free and master of himself, no one else may under any pretext whatever subject him without his consent. To assert that the son of a slave is born a slave is to assert that he is not born a man.” – The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing; from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all possess something and none has too much.” – The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“What, then, is the government? An intermediary body established between the subjects and the sovereign for their mutual communication, a body charged with the execution of the laws and the maintenance of freedom, both civil and political.” – The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies.” – Voltaire (on his deathbed in response to a priest asking him that he renounce Satan.)

“In default of any other proof, the thumb would convince me of the existence of a God.”– Isaac Newton

“God created everything by number, weight and measure.” – Isaac Newton

“Nature hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together the difference between man & man is not so considerable as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit to which another may not pretend as well as he. For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself.” – Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes

Runaway Wives of the 18th century

What recourse did wives have in America if they found their marriages intolerable and yet could not obtain a divorce? Here’s what sometimes happened in the 18th century. From the Pennsylvania Gazette’s classified advertising section (legal notices):

“March 25, 1742:

Whereas ELIZABETH DUNLAP, Wife of JAMES DUNLAP of Piles Grove, Salem County in the Province of New-Jersey, hath lately eloped from the said James Dunlap her Husband. These are therefore to forewarn and forbid any Person to trust said Elizabeth for any Goods or other things whatsoever for that her said Husband will pay no Debt or Debts contracted by her after the Date hereof….”

“June 17, 1742:

Whereas JAMES DUNLAP, of Piles Grove, of Piles Grove, in the County of Salem, in the Province of New-Jersey, by an advertisement lately inserted in the American Weekly Mercury and in the Pennsylvania Gazette, did publish the elopement of ELIZABETH DUNLAP his Wife, and forewarned all Persons to trust her for any goods or other things, etc.

These are therefore to certify all Persons whom it may concern, that the contents of said advertisement as to the elopement of the said Elizabeth is utterly false, for the said Elizabeth never eloped from the said James Dunlap her Husband, but was obliged in safety of her life to leave her said Husband because of his threats and cruel abuse for several years past repeatedly offered and done to her, and that she went no farther than her Father’s House in said country, where she has resided ever since her departure from her said Husband, and still continues to reside. And the same James Dunlap having a considerable estate in lands in the said county, which the said Elizabeth is informed he intends to sell as soon as he can, she therefore thought proper to give this notice to any Person or Persons that may offer to buy, that she will not join in the sale of any part of said lands, but that she intends to claim her thirds (or right of dower) of and in all the lands the said James Dunlap has been seized and possessed of since their intermarriage whosoever may purchase the same. — Elizabeth Dunlap.”

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“July 31, 1746:

Whereas MARY, the Wife of JOHN FENBY, Porter, hath eloped from her said Husband without any cause; this is to forewarn all Persons not to trust her on his Account; for he will pay no Debts she shall contract from the Date hereof.”

“August 7, 1746:

Whereas JOHN, the Husband of MARY FENBY, hath advertis’d her in this Paper, as eloped from him, &c., tho’ ’tis well known, they parted by Consent, and agreed to divide their Goods in a Manner which he has not yet been so just as fully to comply with, but detains her Bed and Wedding Ring: And as she neither has, nor desires to run him in Debt, believing her own Credit to be full as good as his; so she desires no one should trust him on her Account, for neither will she pay any Debts of his contracting.– MARY FENBY”

Excerpt: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

This is an excerpt of the famous sermon by the Rev. Jonathan Edwards. It was given in Enfield, Massachusetts (which is now in Connecticut) in 1741. This is a good example of the types of sermons used to revive religious piety during the First Great Awakening. Here is a link (http://edwards.yale.edu/major-works/sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-angry-god/) to other works of Jonathan Edwards from Yale University.

As you read, consider what Edwards is trying to do with his descriptions, and note the vivid imagery employed.

Jonathan Edwards, 1741
…The observation from the words that I would not insist upon is this. “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

1. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God’s enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God’s using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, “Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” (Luke 13:7). The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God’s mere will, that holds it back.

3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. “He that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3:18). So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is. “Ye are from beneath” (John 8:23). And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God’s word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such a one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The Scripture represents them as his goods (Luke 11:12). The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in Scripture compared to the troubled sea (Is. 62:20). For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;” but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noonday; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God’s hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

8. Natural men’s prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men’s own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? “How dieth the wise man? even as the fool” (Eccl. 2:16).

9. All wicked men’s pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it is not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of that misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, “No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself: I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief: Death outwitted me: God’s wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then suddenly destruction came upon me.”

10. God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men’s earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire bent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.

APPLICATION
The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the goodstate of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a fallen rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies. God’s creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are damned for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment….

Overview: The First Great Awakening

The roots of the Great Awakening of the early 18th century lie in several places, not the least of which was the challenge that the Enlightenment posed to religious faith. Although the revivalism of the Great Awakening influenced England and all the American colonies, we will focus here on how the religious movement unfolded in New England. There, the Puritans were at the same time experiencing internal stresses as the number of people who met the requirements for church membership dwindled. Enlightenment thought challenged common assumptions and inverted the traditional primacy of faith over reason. The Great Awakening was a reaction to these challenges.

The scientific movement known as the Enlightenment spread from Europe to America. Common names associated with this time of flowering rationalism include Sir Isaac Newton and John Locke. Newton’s theories about the laws that governed the motions of celestial bodies showed that the tracks the stars and planets traced through the sky were predictable and could be understood by humans. Likewise, Locke, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) argued that children were not born with innate knowledge planted in them by God, but were instead capable of reasoning and gaining knowledge by experience, which contradicted the prevailing view of many. Locke and other Enlightenment thinkers believed that people were capable of great progress and of improving the conditions in which they lived, especially through science and reasoning. This challenged the foundations of ideas like predestination, for the idea that one can change and improve the conditions of life implied that God had not created humans as cogs in a machine, but as active players in the universe. However, neither man challenged the existence of God. There was room for faith in a world of reason.

One attempt to reconcile faith and reason was called Christian rationalism, which stressed that humans were born with free will and through moral, rational behavior they could gain salvation. The rationalists accepted all into church membership who were trying to live Christian lives, instead of merely the “visible saints.” Thus rationalism directly challenged the core beliefs of Calvinism, especially predestination. Instead, some rationalist Puritans began espousing a belief in Arminianism, that humans had the freedom to choose salvation through good works and faith. Arminianism dovetailed very well with Enlightenment thought about how humans were free to influence their own destinies. Rationalists believed that salvation could be gained through actions, not just as a capricious gift from God. Traditionalists, of course, rejected these ideas as heretical. Arminianism became an influential theory in the early 18th century at Harvard College, which served as a training ground for Congregationalist ministers. The new generation of Puritan ministers began assuming leadership roles in the Congregationalist churches of New England. Thus, a tension between these two opposing factions caused great unrest among Christians in America.

Further complicating matters was the fact that the Puritans had experienced a serious reduction in membership. Since about 1650, membership had declined, especially among men, whom some ministers accused of being too worldly. Women definitely seemed to have an advantage in exhibiting what was called ‘regeneration’ after a believable conversion experience. In some congregations, women made up sixty to seventy-five percent of new members. In 1662, the Puritan clergy created the Half-Way Covenant, which allowed adults who had been baptized as children but not yet saved “half-way” membership. These members could not take communion, but could have their children baptized as long as they demonstrated understanding of Christian beliefs and lived in obedience to God’s laws. On a practical note, the Half-Way Covenant was also an attempt to keep influential people within the Puritan faith, for no matter how strictly the Puritans had attempted to wipe out dissenters and other denominations, the Puritans now faced competition from Baptists and Quakers, among others. But the Half-Way Covenant was not accepted by all congregations, and thus caused more dissension rather than growth.

The increasing stratification within society also affected the discontent felt by many within the second generation of Puritans. As the older generation increasingly concentrated upon attaining wealth, some churches also allowed a differentiation within the sanctuary itself, as wealthy families were given prominent pews within the church during services (during the early years of settlement in America, it was a common practice for a family to subscribe for a pew, thereby paying for the privilege of one’s seat). Naturally, some of the younger, less wealthy Puritans felt further estrangement, and soon stopped attending services. The Rev. Jonathan Edwards of Northampton, Massachusetts focused his attention upon this disaffected generation. He tried to reawaken their piety by appealing to their emotions in a series of sermons that sought to impel his congregants to examine their lives, come to grips with their fate as sinners unless saved by God. This appeal to emotionalism worked, and people felt reconnected to their faith. Soon Edward’s congregation was growing in membership. Revivals of religious feeling were also sweeping through the Methodist and Presbyterian churches in the colonies.

This effort by Edwards marked the beginning of the Great Awakening in New England. Into this time of crisis burst a new attempt to revive religious enthusiasm: the First Great Awakening, which erupted in New England between the years of 1734 and 1745. Those who supported the ideals of the Great Awakening became known as New Lights; traditionalists were called Old Lights.

There were several identifying features of this movement. New Light pastors thundered from their pulpits. Itinerant preachers roamed the countryside, sometimes speaking from the pulpits of churches they visited, but also drawing large crowds in fields or on the steps of meetinghouses. From 1739 to 1741, the youthful Rev. George Whitefield, an Anglican evangelist from England, toured around the Middle Colonies, and several of his sermons were printed by his friend Benjamin Franklin, who was known as a religious skeptic. He was invited to preach in the Connecticut River Valley by Jonathan Edwards, and from there he moved through New England preaching in various places to enthusiastic reviews. Crowds as large as 8,000 listened to him preach in Boston. Instead of dry, reasoned sermons, listeners were painted vivid pictures of the fires of hell in highly emotional language. Audiences often responded in kind, being driven to shrieks of horror, panic, and tears. People grew pale and sometimes collapsed in the arms of their loved ones; others cried out to God for mercy in the middle of a service. Those who experienced this step often moved to a state of euphoria as the last phase of their reawakening, as the feeling of God’s salvation gathered within their hearts and overwhelmed them.

Soon these different approaches to religious feeling flared into open confrontation. An implicit thread running through New Light sermons was criticism of mainline Protestantism as being spiritually dead and decadent. Clergy became subject to criticism and dismissal. Some churches broke into factions or split along doctrinal lines. In one congregation, the minister was asked to step down because he lacked the emotional fire his awakened congregants wanted. When he refused, he was pulled from the pulpit, assaulted, and thrown out the door of the church. . Ideas about education were also affected by this criticism of the “spiritual coldness” of unconverted ministers. A Presbyterian minister, William Tennent, established a school in New Jersey to train preachers in the New Light methods and theology. Originally called the “Log College,” this school was later christened the College of New Jersey and is today known as Princeton. Tennent’s son Gilbert Tennent became an influential New Light preacher.

These Presbyterian graduates of the Log College were soon making their way down the coastline to the southern colonies. By the 1740s, the revival had spread to the southern colonies, carried by William Tennent’s troops. Methodists and Baptists also reaped a windfall of converts, and during the Awakening in this era, many slaves were exposed to Christianity for the first time. Some churches even had both black and white members for a time. For the next twenty years, revivalism played a strong part in the religious experiences of many Southerners.

The Great Awakening also had political and educational consequences. Some Old Lights, particularly in New England, attempted to pass laws to quell the influence of the New Lights. This religious division had political consequences in New England, since the church and government were so tightly intertwined. The Connecticut Assembly passed a law forbidding a clergyman to preach from another’s pulpit without permission and repealed toleration laws passed in 1708. This heavy-handedness ultimately created a backlash in support of religious freedom that would resonate even to the present day. Higher education in the colonies benefitted from this religious revival. Besides Princeton, several colleges sprung up during this time, including Brown, Rutgers, and Dartmouth, for the purpose of meeting the increased need for preachers. These institutions introduced a new curriculum that emphasized mathematics, science, and modern languages in addition to the classical studies and theology which had prevailed previously in older schools. Students at Yale who were swayed by New Light theology began stirring up so much unrest that the Connecticut Assembly allowed expulsion for any student who attended New Light services. The Great Awakening pitted the New Lights’ call for a return to Calvinism against the Old Lights’ more liberal tendencies, which would eventually lead to the founding of the Unitarian and Universalist churches.

To this day, a split remains within American Protestantism, a split that was first articulated during the First Great Awakening. The Christian Charismatic movement, which emphasizes emotion, spiritual gifts such as prophecy, and shattering conversion experiences, still dominates some denominations, such as the Assembly of God based in Springfield, Missouri, as well as the work of evangelists such as Billy and Franklin Graham. The Great Awakening encouraged democratic tendencies and also promoted the separation of church and state, since New Lights were rebelling against the control Old Lights were able to wield through the administration of anti-revivalist laws. Although the religious fervor that was encouraged by the Great Awakening has experienced varying levels of influence throughout American history up to the present, the dichotomy between faith and reason has never completely subsided from the American social landscape.