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The Second Great Awakening

The Second Great Awakening

  • Religious revival movement
    • Begins in the 1790’s
    • Led to evangelical crusades – second half of 19thcentury
    • Began in New England
  • White women become involved in religious revivals and gain a new role outside of the home


Evangelical Crusades

  • Ministers support the idea that women are morally superior to men.
    • Ministers and women created a mutually dependent relationship
    • Ministers need women to bring membership into the church
    • Women need ministers to support them in participating in the church
    • A woman’s conversion would lead to family conversion
  • Camp Meetings spread and attracted crowds – women gather in groups



  • Christian virtue could outweigh original sin
  • Mothers were responsible for her children’s souls
  • Women take this new responsibility and will in time step outside of the home to help correct the behavior of others


Experiences Gained

  • Provided:
    • a community outside of the home among like-minded women
    • potential and opportunity for women (specifically white Christian women)
  • However, minister’s support also meant control
    • Women were warned to avoid leadership roles


The Next Step

  • As time passed, women took the role of being the moral compass for the family
    • In time they will do the same for the community
    • This led to benevolent societies (charities)
    • Learned new skills, network, help their communities and it is a big step in becoming active participants outside of the home.


Benevolent Societies and Moral Reform

  • Female societies for pious (religious) purposes opened doors for women’s entrance into public life
    • First 3 decades of the 19th century
    • All emerged out of religious revivals
  • To care for the destitute
  • To work against poverty and vice – especially in urban areas
  • Provide employment for the poor


What They Gained

  • Created social and civic networks
  • Developed experience in organization and tactics
  • Made contributions to benevolence and reform
  • Extended their skills they already had
  • Provided a steppingstone from domestic life to public life
  • The skills gained are the same that will be used for abolition and women’s rights in later years






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