tv Lectures in History Salem Witch Trials and the Great Awakening CSPAN December 26, 2018 4:18pm-5:35pm EST
student bodies. and jennifer wexton was elected to virginia's tenth congressional district. she served as a public prosecutor and attorney in private practice. she was elected to the virginia senate in 2013. new congress, new leaders, watch it all on cspan. >> the great awakening took place in mid 18th century america and was a christian revitalization that swept through the colonies. thomas kidd spoke about this time in history and how the salem witch trials lead to an era of traveling preachers such as george whitefield and an emphasis on evangelism. this is one hour 15 minutes. >> we have been talking about the founding of the american colonies and we're getting now into the 1700s. today and this week i want to focus mostly on religion in the
colonial period and the great awakening in the 1740s and 30s. this has been on your mind since you have a paper coming up about that. so we'll give the background to religion in the colonial period and then the lead up to the great awakening. some of the overview of what happens. and hopefully that will set you up for your papers. we have an image of george whitefield preaching in london in the 1730s, 1740s. he is the sensation of the age. we'll talk about him when we get there. we'll talk about what's happening with regard to religion and we talked about some of this already before in class about the scope of religion and religious
commitment across the colonies. if you look first at the southern colonies from maryland and georgia and mostly what we have a is a formal commitment to the church of england and the church of england is the national official church of england and britain and most of those colonies adopt a former establishment of the church of england but the southern colonies overall are probably the least religious of all the colonial regions. if you think about that for a second you'll see why that's a little weird but in the colonial period it's different. there's a formal establishment of the church of england but
once you get out past the colonial cities, places like williamsburg and charleston and savannah the commitment is pretty limited and part of the reason for that, 1607, these colonies are being founded for business purposes and it's a little difficult to set up churches in the backcountry where settlement is so scattered. so people living in the rural south, in the early 1700s, they might have been christians for sure, if they were literate they probably read the bible. maybe they had family devotions but many of them did not go to church. maybe the nearest church is 50 miles away. if that's the case, if you're going on a wagon, you're not going to go to church, right?
so people in the north, in the northern colonies recognize people in new england would talk about their worry for the south that there weren't that many people going to church there. there weren't enough churches and pastors. so the south was regarded as the least religious part of the colonies. the middle colonies and we're talking about new jersey, pennsylvania, new york and it's a mix of different christian denominations. they're often connected to a particular ethnicity. so you have scottish presbyterians, dutch reformed people. this is the group that founded new netherlands in the 1620s.
german lutherans. there are quakers. there's different baptist groups in the middle colonies. so it's representative of the do ver -- diversity you see in modern america. sometimes they don't get along with each other and it's kind of hard to tell the one single linear story of the south and slavery and new england and puritanism. the middle colonies is just more like that. in new england, when you get into the early 1700s and when you're talking about the 18th century, the 1700s, new england sees the decline of puritanism and they had been founded, massachusetts and puritanism is
in decline, now 78 years past the time of the founding. and the puritan movement has started to fade away. some of this may just be taught because, you know that pastors, especially, but lots of christians will talk about, oh, you know, our founders were much more committed than we are. i don't know if you've ever heard that in a church service. it used to be so much better, but now we have fallen away. that's a very common rhetorical move that you get in churches and you started to see that in the new england churches too.
and it breeds a sermon that you get that historicals call the jeremiads. now if you know your bible well enough you'll hear a name called jeremiah that was a gloomy profit. he was the sort of profit that said to israel, you have fallen away from god. you need to straighten up or judgment is coming. and that was common in new england too. the pastors would say, you have fallen away from your first l . love. you have fallen away from the general mission and you need to turn around, turn back to god and renew your devotion to the
lord. now had the people really turned away from god? it's hard to know how to measure that. it's hard to judge people's hearts, but there is some evidence that at least new england is becoming more diverse, not just exclusively puritan. in 1690s england started tolerating other kinds of pr prodestant groups. there are intriguing pieces of evidence about rising access to sort of immorality and so forth in the 1680s it looks like boston probably gets it's first brothel. characteristic of colonial cities, london and so forth at the time, but puritan boston
gets a brothel, a house of prostitution. this is horrifying for a lot of people. there's occasionally dancing classes being offered in boston. so, you know, the puritans were not keen of dancing. so there's some pieces of evidence where you can say maybe this is becoming a nondiverse kind of society. maybe there is something to that theme. probably the most horrific episode for the pastors in new england is the salem witch crisis. and we read a document on this today if you want to pull your book out and look at that. the salem witchcraft crisis is
horrific for the leaders in new england. first and foremost, for them, because they see it as a great attack of satan on their society. the puritans believed they had this very high calling from god so they thought what would you expect? satan is going to break out in these attacks against us. that's how they saw what happened in 1692 is that satan had raised up a cohort of witches to come and attack their people and try to disrupt new england society. so that's how they first and foremost interpreted what was going on in salem. so dozens of people start being accused of being witches. there was a group of mostly teenage girls that probably had gotten involved in at least some
kind of white magic type of practice trying to tell the future and so forth and then those girls started to have signs of what the puritans would have considered to be sort of demonic attacks, demonic oppression and having convulsions and being tormented, and they would say that it was this woman, that woman, who was coming in, especially in the spirit realm to attack them spiritually and to physically harm them. and so, ultimately, but now, by the way, it's mostly younger women accusing older women of being witches. so almost all the accused are women and all the accusers are women too.
was this an episode with a woman hating gender episode of loathing of women, especially the older women that were difficult to deal with. maybe had gotten into altercations with their neighbors and so forth. and that's an interesting thesis but one problem with it is is it always women accusing it would be more convenient to read it as an episode if men were accusing women. but there are some men that get accused but ut maltly some very elite people get accused and that's when the judges and other officials start thinking about
closing the thing down because they can see the accusations are started to go viral, haywire and they say wait a minute. it's too many people and they start to doubt some aspects of the trials. now everybody thinks witches exist. so even the critics of the trials are saying, well, now we know that witches exist but there are problems that we have with the way the trials are being run. and that's a really important aspect to understand. this is not the puritans that believe in the existence of witches and then standing outside of that, you have these skeptics that are saying you
fools -- no, everybody realizes or believes at the time that the super natural is real and that people can make a covenant with the devil in order to have spiritual power and to be able to cast spells on people and torment them in the spirit realm at least. it's debatable who she was. she seems to have been a servant or slave in the household of one of the pastors that's involved. when they say indian, we think
it might mean native american but it's more likely she's from the caribbean. sometimes when they said an indian, that meant somebody from the caribbean. so we don't know a whole lot about her other than these testimonies but she is being interrogated and they start off on page 44 and the judge says to her what evil spirit have you familiarity with. none. why do you hurt these children? >> i do not hurt them. >> who it is then? >> the devil for all i know. >> when you lead in like that in this trial, what does that tell you about the way that judicial proceedings went in the 1600s?
>> it's very face value. there's no evidence to back it up. it's just straight up asking and seeing if it happened. >> yeah. it's very matter of fact, including about the spiritual. they're very willing to take testimony. what else does it tell you about judicial proceedings in the 1600. >> there's no presumption of innocence. in the english legal system at this time, there's no guarantee
that you're going to be assumed to be innocent, for sure. so the way they interrogate these people is if you have been accused, you're assumed to be guilty. and what they're trying to do is get her to admit if she is guilty and she initially says, as i saw here, i didn't hurt them but it's not too long into the interrogations that she admits that she is a witch. now whether she is doing this because she wants to be let off because it becomes clear that the people who won't admit that they're witches are the most likely to get executed. so you're in a catch 22 here about well should i go ahead and admit it? but it could be in some of these cases, some of these people may
have actually been engaged in what they thought of as at least magical practices. and there may be a few of them that actually did regard themselves as witches. so that makes it a real conundrum about how to run these things. if you have people that consider themselves to be witches, in a society where everybody believes in witches, then that becomes a law enforcement matter, doesn't it? do you see what i mean? it's tough for us to know how do you deal with these issues? so you look on further, they say, well, what is this appearance you see? and she says, sometimes it's like a hog and sometimes it's like a great dog. >> well, what did this animal, being say to you? she says the black dog said
serve me. but i said i am afraid and he said if i did not, he would do worse to me. okay. now who is the black dog? who do you think the black dog is? >> is it supposed to be satan? >> i think so. maybe a demon, but probably the devil that's taken on this animal specter. when she's testifying about it and lots of people testified along these lines, either this animal, spirit attacked me, talked to me, or at the bottom of the page, she is talking about, what else have you seen? two rats, a red rat and a black rat. >> do you see who it is that torments these children now? yes, it's good wife good. she hurts them in her own shape.
so she has come to them in the spirit and she is tormenting them in the spirit realm but it can have physical consequences. so what do you think is going on here when she testifies to seeing these things sort of in the spirit realm -- what do you think -- does she believe this? what do you think? this is speculative. there's no wrong answer? do you have something? >> i don't think she actually believes in what they believe in. i think she's just manipulating them because she doesn't want to be a slave anymore. >> okay. >> so maybe telling them what she thinks they want to hear. >> yeah. >> and also, i mean, it's bad news if you're goody good to get accused like this. so maybe there's people that they're trying to settle scores with.
do you think that most of these accusations are people that are thinking consciously i'm going to lie about the accusations? and again, there's no right answer on this. it's just speculative. or do you think that there are people that are so deeply convinced that witchcraft and -- i mean, this is a traditional christian belief, at least in demons, right? demons are in the bible. you know. so remember their mentality. 1600s. medieval mentality in effect. do you think there's people that really do believe in these kinds of things? or is it a big sham? what do you think? >> there's probably people that generally do believe in it but the people being accused of it at that point in time they probably don't go into it
thinking i'm going to lie about this but when put on the spot they probably get so desperate that they don't want to get in trouble for something that didn't happen. they would probably just end up pushing the blame on to someone else. >> i think we can verify that. i think that -- there are cases where late in the trials, some people start recanting their testimony. and some of them would say i even start imagining that things were happening to me but now that i think about it, i'm not sure i actually saw it. but some people definitely say they were put under so much psychological duress that they admitted to things that they knew weren't really true. and there are a couple of cases where we know that people were physically tortured. they're also not supposed to be doing that in english law. you're not supposed to extract confessions from people by
torture. but a couple of people were. so, you know, one of the things with torture is you say whatever you think the people want you to say. but i think, i think it's true. i think that there probably are some people, and it's hard to know exactly what their mentality is, but they think something is happening to them spiritually like this. and of course, everybody involved pretty much believed that the devil was doing something in these trials, either making covenants with these witches or duping the people, deceiving the people who are making the accusations. the opponents said how do you know that the devil isn't deceiving people into believing that these attacks are real? so it's tough to interpret this. but in the end, 19 people were executed for being witches. most of them were executed by
hanging. one poor man was pressed to death with bolders until he suffocated. they were trying to get him to -- and there was an instance of torture. they were trying to get him to admit that he was a witch. and he wouldn't. so it's a tragic situation. a few dogs were executed. under suspicion of being witch's familiars because a witch has an animal companion that goes along with the witch and does their bidding. so a few dogs got executed as part of that. but by the end, most people involved, even some of the judges realized that taking testimony about a person's spirit, their specter as they would call it, that taking testimony about this person's
specter coming to me and encouraging me to sign the devil's book, their specter came to me and physically tormented to me, the judges -- even some of the judges said that's not enough to convict somebody of witchcraft. so we need to take a step back and shut things down. but by that point, 19 people had died. by far the biggest outbreak of witchcraft in the colonial american period. most cases before and after this were just one person being accused. and there were witchcraft episodes after this. but they were kind of on their way out by this point. partly because of the embarrassment of salem. so salem is feeding into a
broader sense of religious crisis in the colonies. especially in new england. and it's the easiest story to tell about the coming of the great awakening. there's such a lineal colonial story about the puritan founding and the decline of puritanism. a sense of religious crisis in the early 1700s and then in the 1730s and 40s, an outburst of new religious commitment as signalled in the great awakening. so a lot of what i'll talk about is tracing the story, most specifically of colonial new england which is the epicenter of the great awakening in america but the other colonies are effected by the great awakening. okay? why do they have a sense of
religious crisis? well, one reason is a rise apparently in greed, immorality. we already talked about this. about the signs that people were falling away from their puritan commitment. the pastors are talking all the time about how people were consumed with business affairs and are forgetting about their love for god. they're worried that society is becoming dominated by greed, business, and the immorality that they see going along with that. another reason is the rise of what we call enlightenment thought. and related trend which is the rise of rational theology. now the enlightenment term i'm sure that you have come across
in other classes is a controversial term among historians. historians are not so keen on talking about the enlightenment as if it's one thing, capital e, that works the same way everywhere. we know for sure there's different kinds of enlightenment depending on whether you're in france or you're in scotland or you're in america. some parts are more antichristian and in america it tends to be fairly friendly to christianity. we'll just have maybe an updated version of christianity. a little more modern version of christi christianity but it's the best religion of all and it accords with rationality and modern learning so they wouldn't have seen a tension between those
things. one of the ways that this plays out is there's a growing tendency to explain things naturally and for sure when you compare the mentality of americans from 1692 to say 180 and the years after the american revolution, something has changed on a popular level. now there's still people who believe in strong supernationalism and even things like witchcraft but if you go from 1692 to 1750 to 1800 there's a declining tendency to see things in exclusively supernatural terms. say your cow dies unexpectedly. your cow is fine one day and the next day the cow is frothing at the mouth and kills over and dies. what do you think has happened?
right? in 1692, you might think, especially if you had a recess argument with a neighbor that a spell has been cast on your cow. that's the world you live in. it's a world of wonders and magic and these kinds of things. so you might think maybe it's a spiritual attack on me and my li livestock. in 1800, some people might just think that but it's more likely people will think they got a disease. these things happen. there's a medical reason for it. you may not still have a very good medical explanation for it but you think about it not in terms of spiritual powers but just the natural world. these things happen. there's no really any explanation for it. it's not that god is getting us
or a witch is getting us or something like that, it's just my cow got sick and died. that's a very important mental change, though, isn't it? i mean, this is, you know, you see in that the beginnings of the modern secular world. where even today maybe devout religious people, if something bad happens to them, they don't naturally think it's a spiritual attack on them. some people might. but most people say, well, what can you do? bad things happen? and in theology, there's a related tendency to say we still study theology. we want to understand god as best we can but anything that we believe biblically about god must match rationality. so you talk about the puritans where god elects only certain people to be saved. and believes everybody else to
their own devices, which means judgment. well, the rational theologians say to my mind, that doesn't make sense. i don't think god would act like that. i think god would give people all the freedom to decide for themselves whether to believe or not. that accords with normal standards of rationality. but you can see -- and i'm sure some of you may agree with that, but you can see what you've done is also a little step towards a kind of human centered type of theology because god must be understandable, god must be accessible, god must live up to kind of our standards of rationality and that starts to influence the way that you interpret the bible. okay? now, that sort of theology, rational theology, had become dominant at harvard college by
the early 1700s. now, harvard had been founded the first american college, founded almost exclusively for training puritan pastors in the 1630s and by the early 1700s it had become captured by -- still absolutely christian theology, but this kind of rational non-pre des narian, in some ways non-puritan type of theology. so new englanders start to new college as a more conservative alternative that will kind of go back more to sort of puritan type of theology and that college was yale. yale is sort of the conservative bible college, right? in the early 1700s, so that we can have an alternative to harvard. okay. almost all of the colonial american colleges, the ivy league schools, most of them were founded in the colonial period and they are almost all
founded as colleges for the training of pastors and almost nobody else went to college. no women went to college. almost no men went to college in those days, and if you are a man who went to college it was almost always in the colonial period to become a pastor. okay? so what they saw is the rise in immorality, philosophy and theology and the third reason for this sense of crisis is ongoing war with catholic, france and spain and their native american allies. starting in the 1690s, the colon niece, but especially new england, go through a couple generations of imperial war between britain and the british colonies and then either france or spain and in new england the main issue is fighting against
the forces of france coming out of canada, or new france, what they called new france. there is no natural boundary there. if you think about it, you know, england and france are fighting in the same time period, too, but the english channel separates them and for the colonists in new england there is no natural barrier and so the french and they had more native american allies than the british did and so you would have attacks from the french on frontier villages, native american raids on frontier villages, sometimes even when britain and france weren't technically at war you would have new england and new france fighting these kind of low level but vicious wars with one another. 1720s there is a war, you know, on the eve of the great awakening, there is a war between new france and new england that is inspired by a french catholic missionary who
is operating in maine and he's telling the indians stick up for your rights against the english. don't let them take your land. you know, they have this war and the new englanders commission a bounty against this priest in maine, this catholic priest who is encouraging the native americans, and they send out a war party against them and they shoot him and kill him and they scalp him, the missionary, right? they scalp him and bring his scalp back to boston. right? you know, traditionally we talk about the native americans are barbar barbaric? who is barbaric? the english are commissioning scalp bounties against a catholic missionary. it's just a vicious time all the way around. so if you've got these kind of troubling intellectual changes, you've got social changes, you've got war, war is such a contributing factor, but the fear of the judgment of god, if
we don't stick close to god we may be overrun by the french, we may be overrun by native americans, and all these things are feeding into salem witchcraft trials, the memory of that horror, are feeding into a sense of religious crisis through the colonies i think in general but especially in new england. 1720s, 1730s and then, guess what, you get the great awakening. now, i mean, most people i think feel like the time they live in is a time of crisis, but there's no doubt that the colonists felt that crisis in the 1730s and i think culturally, religiously, that set them up for a new religious awakening. the first great awakening, 1730s and '40s is kind of the main
event, although cascading effects of the revivals keep on going into the revolutionary period in the 1770s. it's hard to explain why did the great awakening happen exactly. you could look at social and cultural factors, you could look at the history of the decline of puritanism and for sure -- i know some of you would look at, you know, spiritual factors that, you know, still today people will say that there are spiritual divine reasons why god made this happen. in history class we don't spend much time on that kind of thing, but there is no question that in the 1720s, 1730s you find evidence of pastors across the colonies and in new england telling their people that they need to pray for revival, which is a term that's occasionally used in the bible in the psalms,
revive us again. what they're talking about is they want for the people to be praying for an outpouring of the holy spirit, third person of the trinity, to be poured out so that people will come back to god, lots of people will convert to christianity for the first time even though basically all these people were at least nominally christian. so they will have a conversion experience and maybe people who had fallen away from god will return to god and return to their commitment to god. and so in the jeremiaheds the message had been we need to straighten up and start living right and doing what we know god wants us to do. in the 1720s and '30s they tweaked the message just a little bit and they say, we're so far gone that what we need is
divine rescue. right? it's not about morality anymore. what we need is a revival created by god through the holy spirit. we need that to change our society. and so i think we can reasonably expect that if pastors are calling on people to pray like this that some people were responding to the pastors calls and praying for revival. so in the 1730s and '40s revival comes in a big way. what you think about that i think has everything to do with what your belief is about prayer, does prayer do anything and this sort of thing. a lot of christians for sure would say, you know, well, people prayed and god responded to their prayers, you know, to a significant extent. it also could be if you were more skeptical you would say, well, look, the more they talk about revival the more likely it makes it that it's going to happen. actually i think those two explanations probably can work
together. so what's different about the first great awakening? one is it's an outbreak of great religious intensity and fervor, individual passion, conversion, life changing events in people's auto biographies, but another thing that's different is the role of the itenerant preachers in the great awakening. before this point the standard model for a pastor is -- and this is most of the time in church history -- is that you have a pastor who pastors his congregation and doesn't do much traveling around speaking. i mean, your parish, your church, that's who you speak to, but in the first great awakening you start to see a critical role for traveling preachers who cause a sensation everywhere that they go and they're brilliant preachers, george
whitefield is number one on the list, they are brilliant preachers who travel around and they become famous at least regionally if not internationally. whitefield becomes famous intly, having a reputation of going this brilliant preacher and you can't wait for them to get there and it's new, it's exciting and they have a laser focus, these itenerants do, on the message that you need to accept christ, free offer of salvation, and that you need to be born again. born again. if you remember jesus talks about the born again experience in the gospel of john chapter 3, in order to see the kingdom of god you must be born again. so they are not inventing this kind of experience out of nowhere, it's a long time biblical message, but people in the past maybe have had different understandings of what born again meant. people in the first great
awakening are real clear. what you need is that as, you know, an adult or at least say a teenager, you need to understand for yourself that you are a sinner, that your sin has caused a serious problem between you and god, god is offering you forgiveness through christ and what christ has done on the cross and that you need to personally accept that offer of forgiveness in order to be in right standing with god. when you do that usually in a time at least of short spiritual crisis for you, when you do that that is your moment of being born again, and that everybody needs to have this experience. okay? so the parish minister, parish pastor, you know, might be talking about a lot of different topics from week to week and preaching through the bible and various -- but the itenerants are really focused on you need to be born again.
and they travel and tell people in these impassioned sermons that you need to be born again. that's the center of their message. sometimes they don't talk about much else. now, the greatest mind, the greatest thee loejen of the great awakening is jonathan edwards who we have a picture of in the upper right-hand corner. edwards is best known for his sermon centers in the hands of angry god, 1741, and edwards is a minister in north hampton, massachusetts. he does a little bit of traveling, itenerating, most of the time he just sticks at his church like most average pastors do, but centers in the hands of an angry god he actually gives
in a nearby village in connecticut while he's traveling around in the summer of 1741. so edwards is not the most famous pastor preacher at the time, but edwards has come down to us as the greatest intellectual figure of the first great awakening and arguably the greatest intellect of the whole colonial american period. we could do a whole class on just jonathan edwards because he wrote a ton and it's int electric truly and theologically interesting and challenging, but he is best known for this one sermon, centers in the hands of an angry god. it gets anthologized and people read it today and it's a good news/bad news kind of thing because it's an absolutely
brilliant sermon, there is no question about it, and it's frightening if you have ever read it. i'm going to read an excerpt from it here in a second, but we should not mistake edwards for some kind of just screaming, you know, crazy, you know -- somebody you see on late night tv or something, yelling about you are all going to hell and this kind of thing. he is a titanic intellect, the last job he had in his life was the president of the college of new jersey at princeton, so he was the president of princeton college because he had that kind of intellectual reputation. and he also when he preached, including centers in the hands of an angry god, when he reached he had a manuscript in front of him that he had handwritten out and he read the manuscript. i think he would try to give it some feeling but the power of his sermons is in the content, it's not in the rhetorical fireworks, right? so when he gave centers in the hands of an angry god in 1741 it
got an intense reaction from the people who were there and some of the people at the meeting when he gave it started crying out for mercy. what can i do to be saved? they were terrified, the judgment of god. some would be falling out in the aisles and crying and this sort of thing. when edwards saw what was happening and it was getting noisier and noisier in the meeting room, he closed up his sermon and he said, i think we're okay. we don't need to get this crazy, right? so he's not necessarily looking for, you know, this outlandish response, but he gets it because of the power of the rhetoric that he uses. even secular scholars of the colonial period of edwards, people who don't believe in christianity and so forth, they know that edwards is intellectually brilliant and
that his rhetoric is just stunning and that's one of the reasons why people today still study centers in the hands of an angry god is because of the rhetoric of it and especially if you've ever read it you will never forget the image of the spider hanging over the fire. do you remember this? have you read it in an anthology? essays in this -- i will just read a couple paragraphs here. he says, your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead and to ten 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 then he says, the god who holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loath some insect over the fire, an horse you and is
provoked. his wrath upon you burns like fire. he looks upon you as nothing else but to be cast into the fire. he is of purer eyes than to bear you in his sight. you are 10,000 times as a mom nabl in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. uh-oh depended him more than a stubble rebel did his prince and yet -- and yet 'tis nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. so you see the contrast between god's judgment and god's grace, both very intense. and he says, how dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in danger of this great wrath and infinite misery? but this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again.
do you see what i'm saying? we lay out people's desperate case because of their sin and then you say, the rescue is available to you through being born again. that's the basic content of virtually every great awakening sermon. laser focus. you need to be born again. okay. and you can imagine people -- i mean, it's frightening, isn't it? i mean, the pit of hell, the insect over the fire and what if he let's you go? what if he let's you go? you can imagine people falling out. and they are as sure about this as we're sure about the sun coming up in the morning. i mean, this is absolutely no doubt this is true to them. they don't have any doubt. they want to make sure they're right with god. so edwards is the great defender
of the great awakening. he gets stereotyped because of this sermon as a fire and brim stone preacher. most of his sermons are not like this, i have to say. he preaches a lot more about the love of god than he does about the judgment of god. i think his most representative sermon, if i had to recommend one sermon for people to read by edwards, it's called "heaven is a world of love." you find it on the internet. that's, i think, the core of edwards, but if he's on the topic he will also preach about the judgment of god and he can put it in terrifying terms. okay? but he's incredible -- i mean, i can't tell you everything. edwards is writing about -- definitely about pre destination, he is writing about original sin, he's writing about enlightenment challenges to the traditional christian faith. so he becomes -- he's definitely one of america's greatest thee
loej ans ever if you can a i remember about this stuff of thing you definitely have to read edwards. he matches enlightenment thought with traditional christianity. he says we know this, say, from john lock, but this is how this works, with traditional christianity. he has read everything. he's using it to show why even in an enlightened age traditional christianity still is the most compelling theological system. it's absolutely brilliant, but what he gets known for is this one sermon. not saying it's a bad sermon, but there's a lot more to edwards. okay? edwards is not the most famous preacher at the time. he's more famous today. the most famous preacher at the time for sure is george whitefield. and i know the way it's spelled it looks like it would be
whitefield, but i'm on good authority i'm told it was pronounced whitfield. he is by far the most famous preacher of the 1740s. it's each more than that. he is the most famous person in britain and america in his time. the only competitor that he has is king george. and maybe more people know king george's name, but a lot more people have seen whitefield in person, have read whitefield's stuff, his journals, his sermons. we think that probably by the end of his career -- he dies in 1770 -- that probably like three quarters of everybody that lived in america had heard him preach.
he's a bigger celebrity in his time than anybody we have in our culture today. because in our culture we -- oh, we live in a celebrity-driven culture, you know that, but we're dispersed, right? some people like justin bieber, some people don't like justin bieber. i won't do a poll, but you know what i'm saying. everybody knows whitefield. everybody -- even if you are a critic, i mean, you've had to sort of deal with whitefield. he is arguably the first modern celebrity. i didn't say religious celebrity. i said first modern celebrity. when he shows up in a town, he
draws crowds often that are bigger than the population of the town itself. so he gives a farewell sermon in boston in the early 1740s, say 25,000 people show up when there's about 17,000 people living in boston at the time. so effectively the whole population of the town plus people from the hinter lands. when he preaches in london they say 60,000, 70,000, 80,000 people will coming to hear him. and you will remember this is pre electricity. so he does not have, what? a microphone. and if you've ever read ben franklin's autobiography, he and franklin were close, business associates first and then friends, franklin went he -- when whitefield first came to philadelphia franklin did a little experiment, you know,
franklin does experiments, right? so he's walking around the edges of the crowd trying to figure out how many people can hear him speak at one time. and franklin said, you know, i think maybe 25,000 or 30,000 people could hear him speaking at one time. so that tells you that whitefield, he had a background in the theater as a teenager, he was a play actor before his conversion, he knew how to project his voice. i think he must have just been enormously loud. okay? a lot of the portraits we have of whitefield are when he's old and kind of sick, so i like portraits like this one when he's a young man, relatively young. they thought he was good looking. you know, you can tell for yourself what you think about that, but young man, very dynamic.
unlike edwards, whitefield's presentations were without a manuscript. he would pretty much memorize his sermons and he had a repertoire of, you know, a selection of, say, 10 or 15 sermons that he would kind of ro he date through because all he did was itinerite. he didn't have a congregation. so he could really polish a short list of sermons and he had them memorized. he could -- on the fly he could see what people were reacting to and he's moving around the stage and he would in effect act out -- if he's talking about, say, the story of the prodigal son from the got pespels, he wo put himself almost in the character of, say, the father waiting for the prodigal son to come back. he would act, me thinks i see
the father waiting for the lost son to come back. he would act it out and act out the part of the son there in the pig pen eating the stuff that they threw out, only fit for the pigs to eat. he's acting these things out. and sometimes he would even be, you know, weeping the way that an actor weeps. not because it's fake, but because he's into the story. it was very powerful. if i could just have a youtube clip, you know, of anybody besides maybe jesus, i would love to have a youtube clip of george whitefield because you would just see what it was like, but people were just blown away when they would hear him speak. i love this picture. this might be my favorite painting of whitfield and it's because of the woman, not so much -- i like it that it's young whitefield, but i love the
woman in this. she's like, i can't believe i'm in the front row of a whitefield meeting, right? she's smitten. we think this may be a portrait of whitefield's wife. he was married, they weren't together very often because he was always on the road. but you can tell -- i mean, she's smitten. i mean, this is -- this is the first british sensation. it's not trivializing it to say this is like the beatles. in a much later electronic age, but that's the kind of effect that whitefield had on people. obviously a very different message. but this is revival for sure, but there's a celebrity sensation that he creates. so huge responses, huge crowds, reports that he's coming, you
know, months in advance. got to get there early, right? and they would tell people, park your horses at the margins of the crowds so that more people can get in. it's a mosh pit being up front, packed together. as close as you can get. if you were on the margins of the crowd you want to be just off in the distance you could hear them preach, but, hey, it's a whitefield event. britain, america had never seen anything like this before. the reason why whitefield is not more famous today -- i mean, he's known and there are christian devotees of whitefield, but it's because his brilliance was encapsulated in the sermon as delivered. you had to be there to really get it.
i've written a book on whitefield and i have this sense that i still don't quite get it because i don't have my youtube clip. right? where edwards' brilliance is captured on the printed page. you didn't have to be there for edwards because it's his ideas and they're captured on the page. okay? so the first great awakening is obviously this renewal of religious fervor and to people who are not into this sort of thing, people who are not christian, not religious, not devout themselves it may seem like this is sort of this quaint thing that happened in the 1730s and '40s, worth knowing about, but maybe not that interesting to people on the outside, but i would say that the great awakening is also significant
because of the controversy culturally, socially that it creates. it is extraordinarily controversial and disruptive in colonial society. it is the biggest upheaval in the british colonies before the american revolution, happening 30 years before the american revolution. it's the biggest social upheaval in the colonies before the american revolution. so even from secular perspective this is a big deal. part of the reason for this is because during the great awakening pastors are getting challenged like they never have before. of course, in the 1730s, 1740s, being a pastor is a very socially respected office, and if you have a state church, an established religion, then the pastor is on the government
payroll and he's a representative of the government, as well as the church. so if you attack the pastor, you are attacking a representative of the state. and that just never was done, at least not very often before the great awakening. but some of the itenerants, even whitefield from time to time, especially early on, would suggest incredibly controversial things about the official ministers and he would say, you know, your pastor is not very supportive of the revivals, is he? he's uncomfortable with this new work of god that's broken out. do you know why that might be? i think it's because your pastor himself may not actually be a converted christian. now, that's a rude thing to say about a pastor, isn't it? i mean, you know, this is -- and
the pastor does not like this. the pastor is extremely offended to have these during itenerants come around, come into town, maybe even stand up in the pulpit of your church and say i think your pastor may not be converted and that's why he is not sufficiently supportive of the reveefls. no one has ever spoke about pastors this way before. extremely controversial. the radical preachers, the ones who were just really inflammatory, example is james davenport who you all will have read about, he is the most radical, controversial preacher in new england. he goes into churches early on and he starts naming names. i have a list here of all the pastors in boston who are not converted. they are going to hell. can you imagine? i mean, especially in the
colonial world, someone showing up and saying that sort of thing. they start passing laws against itenerants like this telling them that they cannot go uninvited into a pastor's pulpit. they will be arrested if they do. so this is becoming a legal political controversy, okay? another reason it's controversial is because you start to see some common people, usually men, but even occasionally women who believe that they should be able to preach without a formal education. the way this works is that they say, look, i know i'm converted, i know i'm born again, i know when it happened, it happened three months ago. i'm filled with the holy spirit. my pastor is not supportive of the revivals, i'm not even sure he is a converted christian. i should be able to preach. it doesn't matter whether i have
gone to harvard or yale or oxford or cambridge, that doesn't matter. what matters is that you're filled with the holy spert and that you're supportive of the work of god. so farmers, you know, who don't go to college for sure, occasionally native americans who are converted in the revivals, occasionally slaves start standing up in the meeting and saying, i have a word from god for you. pastors like james dachb bother will say, listen to this brother. listen to this sister. she has something to say to us that's from the lord. there are no social settings anywhere else in colonial america where you will see women, slaves, native americans, standing up and addressing in
this even somewhat authoritative way white men. you just don't see it. it doesn't happen anywhere else but these kind of revival meetings. so you can understand the critics say this is -- this is crazy. y'all are nuts. this is socially disruptive. okay? moving out from beyond just the simple religious message, this is socially disruptive. and the critics say this is just a bunch of frenzy, it's what they would call enthusiasm at the time. it was bad in the 1700s to be enthusiastic, that means you're half crazy. and that's what the critics say this was. it's just a bunch of hooey, but it doesn't really mean anything.
and these people were just getting whipped up into emotion, but it's not actually doing anything for them spiritually. the critics say what we need is love, charity, devotion to your pastor. all right. what difference does the great awakening make? one of the most obvious differences is that the great awakening brings about a see change in which churches are the most popular and prominent. this is a change that continues on into the 1800s as part of the second great awakening. in the colonial period the most prominent churches are the church of england, the congregationalist church which is the church of the puritans and some other denominations
like that. in the great awakening you start to see the emergence of new denominations that are eventually going to become the largest protestant churches in america. especially most notably the baptist churches, which have been around for a while, but they were pretty small, isolated. they start to become more popular because of the great awakening and evangelistic. one of the first places that the baptists send missionaries coming out of the great awakening is, guess where, the south. so the great awakening starts to begin the process by which the south would become much more heavily christian and some of the most popular churches, of course, in the south are going to be the baptists and then the
methodists. the methodists are moving first within the church of england, whitefield is a methodist, you may know the name john wesley who becomes sort of the founding father of met ohodism. he is almost always in britain, but his missionaries and pastors start to become active in the first great awakening and especially after the american revolution, the methodists go out on the frontier and establish eventually no uses of new churches so that by the time of the civil war the methodists have gone from being nonexistent at the beginning of the first great awakening to by the time of the civil war they are the largest protestant denomination in america. so the congregationalists, the church of england, ang licken church, what comes to be known as the ee prison pal church,
they are left behind in terms of the numbers and the baptists and methodists come to fore. obviously for baler that is a significant, baptists get as far out as central texas by the 18 who is and are establishing not only churches, but a college. baylor. okay. so that's pretty important to us. the revivals as you can see begin in new england in the middle colonies, new jersey, pennsylvania, very heavily affected by the revivals. slowly spread into the southern colonies by the 1750s. they are also happening in britain and in continental europe. the great awakening i've talked exclusively about america today, but it is an international phenomen phenomenon. okay? it is a transatlantic event, seen most obviously in the person of whitefield who is from
britain, but he comes to america seven times. okay? what's the importance of the great awakening? some historians have argued that it's an important prelude to the american revolution. it's debatable. it's a debatable issue because of the way the argument goes is, well, if it's this big social upheaval, and it's 30 years before the american revolution, doesn't it have a kind of conditioning effect on american culture to get it ready for the american revolution? and i'd say, yeah, i mean, probably in an indirect way it does, but we also have to remember that britain has its great awakening, too, and britain, you know, is our opponent in the american revolution, so it's not quite as simple as -- i definitely wouldn't want to say that the great awakening somehow causes the american revolution, but
influences the culture, yeah, i think so. i think so. and then for sure, i mean, you are on more solid ground if you say, well, the great awakening inaugurated this evangelical movement within christianity which remains in some kind of different forms, it's taken twists and turns, you know, billy graham and people like this in the 20th century. you know, there are different formats and so forth, but really whitefield is the beginning of this sort of evangelical movement within christianity that especially when you look at it in global context is enormously significant today and shows no sign of slowing down and in many parts of the world continues to be growing and some of the leaders and places like sub-saharan africa, so forth, the evangelical movement, guess what, they look to people like george whitefield and jonathan
edwards as examples. i think there is a sort of continuity in the evangelical movement from at least the 1730s and 40s right on through today. so for sure that's a reason why the great awakening is significant. okay. all right. that's all i have for today. thank you and let me know if you have any questions about your paper. okay? saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern conversations with three retiring members of congress, republicans peter ross come, john duncan and mike kaufman all discuss losing their reelection bids and reflect on their time in congress. >> we go on our app, we go on our devices we want things quickly and yet jefferson wrote this 14 years after he wrote the declaration of independence, he said the ground of liberty is to
be gained by inches. we must be content what we can get from time to time and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. it takes time to persuade men even to do it for their own good. so my point is that we culturally need to step back and say, look, these things take time. we have to take small steps in order to get there. >> my big thing, to think that we've spent trillions now on these wars and that the war in afghanistan is now going on, you know, it's 18 years, i think is just -- i think it's just ridiculous. and i think also these wars and our foreign policy has caused us to have more enemies than we would have had. they've done more harm than good. >> in the congress of the united states i believe in the house of representatives there's simply still even with the reforms that nancy pelosi has pledged to accept based on my counterparts and the problem solvers caucus, i believe there's just so much
power and too few hands with too little getting done for the american people and i fear that is not going to change. >> watch conversations with retiring members of congress saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.com and listen with the free c-span radio app. >> american history tvs lectures in history continues now with a look at the history of protestant fundmentlism in 20th century america. we will start with a discussion on the 1925 scopes monkey trial, which pitted the teaching of evolution versus creationism in public schools. we will then hear about the origins of pentecostalism which aims for a personal connection with the divine and includes such aspects as faith healing and speaking in tongues. this is an hour. >> all right. let's begin. my name is mollie worthen, we're at the univers