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tv   Lectures in History Salem Witch Trials and the Great Awakening  CSPAN  August 24, 2021 1:54pm-3:11pm EDT

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next on lectures in history, baylor university professor thomas kidd teaches a class on the first great awakening in the americas. a period in the mid 18th century of christian revitalization that swept through colonies. he explains how the salem witch trials and the decline of puritanism led to an era of traveling preachers and an emphasis on evangelism. hisal class is about 70 minutes.
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>> we've been talking about the founding of the american colonies and we're getting into the 1700's. today and this week i want to focus on religion in the late colonial period, and the coming of the great awakening in the e 1730s and '40s. and i know this has been on your mind since you have a paper coming up about that. we'll give some of the background to religion in the colonial period and then the lead-up to the great awakening. some of the overview of what happens in the great awakening. and then hopefully that will set you up better for your papers. you can see here on the screen, we have an a image of george whitfieldn who is the most fam7 preacher of the great awakening, preaching in london there in the 1730s, 1740s. he is the sensation of the age. we'll talk more about him when we get there. first, i want to take a look at
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the background r to what is happening in 18th century americabe with regard to religi. we talked about some of this already before in class about the scopet of religion and religious commitment across the colonies. if you look first at the southern colonies from maryland down to georgia, mostly what we have is a formal commitment to thena church of england, and th church of england, of course, is the national official church of english, britain. and mostt of those colonies adot what we would call a formal establishment of the church of england. but the southern colonies overall are probably the least religious of all the colonial regions. which if you think about that for a second, you will see why that's a little weird. because we think of the south
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today c as the bible belt correctly. but in the colonial period, it is different. in the colonial period, there is a kind of formal establishment at least of the church of england. but onceam you get out past the colonial scities, places like williamsburg and charleston and savannah, the rates of church going and commitment to the church of england is pretty limited. part of the reasonni isre you remember going back to the founding of jamestown in 1607. these colonies are mostly being founded for business purposes andd. it is a little difficult set up churches in the back country where settlement e is s scattered, so people living in the ruralal south in the early h 1700's, they might have been christians for sure. most of them would have considered themselves christians. if they were literal, maybe they
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read the bible. maybe they had family devotions. but many, many did not to go church because maybe the nearest church isng 50 miles away. and if that's the case, if you're going on a wagon, you're not going to church. right? so the south, and people in the north, in the northern colonies recognized, this e isn't just looking back ashe an historian.v people in new england would talk aboutt their worry for the sout. andan its relative godlessness. that there just weren't that many people going to church and there weren'tig enough churches. were not enough pastors. the south is really regarded as the least religious part of the colonies. the middle colonies, and we're talking about new jersey, pennsylvania, new york, delaware, is a real mix of different kinds of christian denominations. you avhave, and they're often connected to a particular
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ethnicity. soha you have scottish presbyterians, or scotch ish presbyterians. dutchh reformed, these are the people whoe formed the dutch reformed german lutherans. there are quakers, of course, we've seen that. different baptistth groups in t middle colonies. so the middle colonies o is representative of modern america.a. a lot of differentco religious groups. a lot of ethnicities. sometimes they don't get along with each other. they're competing for adherence. it is hard to tell the one single linear story of the south and slavery, new england and pairou tannism. the middle colonies are more like e that. and new england when you get into the early 1700's, when
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you're talking about the 18th century, td we mean the 1700s. connecticut especially, these are founded as pure tan colonies. now 70, 80 years past the time of theut founding. the puritan movement has started to fade away. historians debate about just how much puritanism is really declining. some of this may just be talk because you know that pastors, m especially, lots of christians will talkk about oh, you know, our founders were much more committedch than we are. i don't know if you've ever heard that. in a church service or something. it used to be so much better. but now we've fallen away. that's a very common rhetorical
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move that you get in churches uxt started too see it in the nw england churches, too. in the late 1600s, the early 1700s, and it even breeds a type ofio sermon, a characteristic n england serm only that you get in this period that historians called the jeremiads. t if you know your bible well enough, you will hear a name in there. thats from jeremiah who was a very gloomy kind of profit. he wase the sort of profit that said to israel, you have fallen away from god. you need to straighten up or else judgment is coming. and i that kind of sermon becam very common in new england, too, starting in the 1670's, 1680's. early 1700s. the g pastors would say you've fallen away from that first
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love, from the founding of the puritan generation of the 1630s, and you need to turn around, turn back to god and renew your devotion to theli now, how reflective this is of actual reality? hadbv the people really turned away from god? it is sort of hard to know how to measure that. hard to judge people's hearts. but there is somese evidence th at least new england is becoming more diverse. not just exclusively puritan. you may remember that we talked it.ut then in the 1690s, england started requiring massachusetts toto tolerate other kinds of f protestants. not just puritans but you have to tolerate quakers and baptists and other kinds of protestant groups. there are some intriguing pieces of evidence about rising, at least access l to sort of i
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immorality and so forth. in the 1680s, it looks like boston probably gets its first brothel. the b characteristic of colonia cities of london and so forth at the titime. butot puritan boston gets a brothel?l?io a house of prostitution? this is horrifying to a lot of people. occasionally, dancing classes being offered in boston in this era. so the puritans were not keen on dancing,g, especially between unmarried couples. so m there are actually some pieces off evidence that could you look at and say, well, maybe this is becoming a more diverse nonpuritan kind ofad society. maybe there is something there to that jeremiad kind of thing. probably the most horrific episode for the pastors in new england in the late 1600s for
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sure is the salem witchcraft t crisis. it's inde your book if you wanto look at i.en the salem witchcraft crisis is horrific for the leaders in new england. foremost for them because they see it as a great attack of satan on their society.ll thewh puritans believed they ha this very high calling from god. so theyd thought, what would yo expect? that satan will 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 on disrupt new englandnd society. so that's how they first and foremost interpreted what was going on in salem. soso dozens of people start bei accused of being witches.
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probably if you'll remember some of the story even from maybe reading something like thetl crucible by arthur miller, there was a group of mostly teenage girls who probably had gotten involved in at least some kind of whitehe magic time of practie trying to tell the future and so forth. and then those girls started to have signs d of what the purita would have considered to be demonic attacks, demonic oppression, and having convulsions and being tormented. and they would say that it was this woman, that woman who is coming, especially in the spirit realm to attack them spiritually. to physically harm them. and ultimately, by the way, it is mostly younger women accusing older women of being witches. in almost all the accused are
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women but almost all the accusers are women, too. so one interesting historical investigation that some historians have engaged in, was this a kind of, what you would call misogynistic where women hating gender episode of loathing of women, especially these older women who were difficultt to deal with, maybe had gotten into altercations with their neighbors and so forth. that's an w interesting thesis. but one problem with it is it is almost always women who are accusing. it would be a a little more convenient if it was men accusing women to read it as a misogynistic episode. there are some men who get accused of w being warlocks, an it ends up being hundreds of peoplele who get accused across
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the region. not just in salem. ultimately, somes very elite people start getting accused. and not coincidentally, that's when the judges and other officials start thinking about closing the thing down. they can see that the accusations have started to go completely viral. haywire and they said wait a minute. it is too many people and they start to doubt some aspects of the trials. now, everyone in salem, in new england, i thinkex approaching 100% of everybody, believed that 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 that the trials are being run. okay? and we'll talk about why in a minute. that's a really important aspect to understand.
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this is not, you know, the puritans a who in their religio fervor believe in the existence of witches and then standing outside of that o who say you skeptics, you fools. no. everybody realizes or believes at the time that the supernatural iser real and thatt least in isolated cases, that people canbe make a covenant wi the devil to have malevolent spiritual power to be able to cast spells on people and maybe to torment them in the spirit realm at least. so let's take a look at this document. and i'll get you to give me some comments about this. on pagen 43 in your book, you see, we have this person who they call an indian woman. it is m debatable exactly who s
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was. but p she seems to be maybe an indentured servant or slave in the householdt in one of the pastorstl involved. when they say indian, we think, it might mean native-american. but it is more likely that she's probably from the caribbean. so you remember when columbus, he came, he said this is the indianaies. so sometimeses when they said a indian, that meanter somebody fm thee caribbean. so we don't know a whole lot about her other than these testimonies. but she's being interrogated. and they start off on page 44 and they say, the judge says to her, what evil spirit have you familiarity with? and she says none. why a do you hurt these childre? i do not hurt them. who is it then is that the devil for all i know. so on and so forth.
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now,ju when you lead in like th in this trial, what does that tell but the way that judicial proceedings went in the 1600s? what does thatt tell you? >> it is very face value. there is not' evidence to back it is just straight up asking and seeing if it happened. >> yeah. very matter of fact including aboutde the spiritual dynamic, too. they're very willing to take testimony about what the devil is doing. what else does it tell but judicial proceedings in the 1600s? >> based on this case, that p there isn't much of an innocent until provene guilty. they're just assuming, they, a, believe she is guilty but they don'tbt necessarily have the evidence to back the claim.
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they do believe she is guilty without a doubt. >> yes. there is no presumption of innocence. andst that is not unusual in th 1600ors. in the english legal system at this time,, there is no guarante that you'll be assumed to be innocent for sure. so the way they interrogate these people is if you've been assumed to be guilty. and so what they're really trying to do is to get her to admit that she's guilty. and you may have picked it up that she initially says, as we saw here, i didn't hurt them. but it's not too long into the interrogations that she goes ahead and 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 to get executed. so you're in a kind of catch 22
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here about should i go ahead and admit it? evenes if you don't believe youe a witch? it could be in some of these ct cases, maybe in her case, some of these people may have been engaged in what they thought at least magical practices. and there may be a few of them who actually did regard themselves as witches. makes it a real conundrum. if you have people had consider themselves to be snwitches, in society wheredo everybody belies int' witches, then that back's w enforcement matter, doesn't it?l do you see what i mean? it is tough for us to know in dealecular age, how do you with these issues? and so you look further, them, well, what is this appearance you see?
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and she said, sometimes it is like hog. sometimes like a great dog. well, what did this animal beine say to you, they say?ok and she said 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. now who is the black dog? who do you think black dog is? >> is it supposed to be satan? >> i think so. maybe a demon? but probably the devil who has taken on this kind of animal spector. when she's testifying, and lots of people testified along these lines. either this animal spirit attacked tme, talked to me. or at the bottom of the page,
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she's talking about what else seen?ou two rats? a redye rat and a black rat. do you see who it is that torments these children now? yes, it is good wife good. she hurts them in her own shape. so h she's come to them in the spirits. and she's tormenting tm in the spirit realm but it can have physical consequences. so what do you think is going on here when s tichiba testifies t seeing these things? sort of in the spirit realm. like what do you think? does she believe this? what do you think? this ishi speculative on our pa. no wrong answer. did you have etsomething? >> 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 slaver. anymore. >> so maybe telling them what she thinks they want to hear. >> and also, it's bad news if
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you're t goody good to get accud like this. so maybe there are people that they're trying to settle scores with. > do you think most of these accusations are people who are thinking consciously, i'm going to lie about the accusations? again, there is no right answer on this. orft do you think there are peoe who are so deeply convinced that witchcraft, i mean, this is a traditional christian belief, at least inir demons, right? like demons are in the bible. remember theiro mentality. 1600s. the medieval mentality in effect. do you think there are people who really do believe in these things? or is it just a big sham? whatik do you think?
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holdt on. >> i think that there probably some people who generally do believe inn it. but i think the people who are like being accused of it at that point in time they probably don't think, i'm going on lie about this.n when they're putut on the spot, they probably gety so desperate that they don't want to get in trouble forls something that didn't ehappen. they probably end up pushing the blame on someone else. >> yeah. and i think we can verify. that i think. there are cases where late in the trials, some people start recanting their testimony. and among the things they say is i was put under so much pressure. and i think some of them would say, i even started kind of imagining the things were happening toin me. nower that i think about it, i' not sure i actually -- some people definitely say they were put under so much psychological duress that they just went ahead and a admitted to things that ty knew weren't really true.hy
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there are even a couple cases where we know peopleaw were physically tortured. which they're also not supposed to be doing that in english law. you're not supposed to extract confessions from people byin torture. but a couple people were. so oneru of the things with torture is you say whatever you think the people wantpl you to say. butal i think it is true. i think that there probably some people. it is hard to know what their mentality is. they think something is happening to them spiritually. and everybody involved pretty much believed the devil was doing something in these trials. either making covenants with these. witches or duping the people, d deceiving the people making thepl accusations. the opponents a said, how do yo know that the devil isn't deceiving peoplee into believin that these attacks are real?
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so it's tough to interim rhett this.. but in the end, 19 people were executed for being witches. most were executed by hanging. one poor man was pressed to deathto with boulders until he suffocated. they were trying tort get him -- andad there is an instance of torture. they were trying to get him to admitan that he was a witch ande wouldn't. so it's a tragic situation. a k few dogs were executed unde suspicion of being witches' familiars. a witch has an animal companion that goes i know what the witch and does their bidding and so forth so a few dogs got executed as part of it. but by the end, most people involved, even some of the
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judges realize that taking testimony about a person's spirit, their specter as they would t call it, taking testimo about thisct person's specter coming to me and encouraging me to sign the devil's book. their specter came to me and physically tormented me. the judges, even some of the judges n said, that's not enoug to convict somebody of witchcraft.. and so we need to take a step backge so they can shut things down. by thatia point, 19 people had died. by fareros the biggest outbreak witchcraft in the colonial american period, most cases before and after were just one person w being accused. and there were people witchcraft episodes after this but they
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were partly on the way out, partly because of salem. so salem is definitely feeding into a broader sense in the late 1600ss, early 1700s, of religios crisis in the colonies. especially in new england. new england again is kind of the easiest story to tell about the comingd of the great awakening because there'sli suca linear colonial story in new england about the puritan founding, the e decline of puritanism. a sense of building religious crisis in the early 1700s. then in the 1730s and 40s, an outburst of new religious o commitment has signaled in the great awakening. the background to the great awakening is really tracing the
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storyme most specifically of colonial c new england which is the epicenter of the great awakening in america butus the other colonies were also greatly affected. why did they have a sense of religious crisis? well, one reason you see here is aab rise apparently in greed, immorality, we've already talked about this. the signs that people were falling away from their puritan commitment. thefa c pastors are talking all time aboutut how people were consumed with business affairs and are forgetting about their love for god. they're worried that society is becomingmo dominated by greed, business, and the kinds of immorality that they see coming along with that. another reason for the sense of religious crisis is the rise of what wes call enlightenment
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thought.te andno a related trend, the risef rational theology, quote/unquote. the enlightenment term i'm sure you've come across before in other classes is a controversial term among historians. thesee days, they're not necessarilyy so keen on talking about there enlightenment as ift is one thing, capital e that works the same way everywhere. we know there are different kinds of enlightenment depending ongh if you're in france or in scotland or in america. some parts of enlightenment are a lot more anti-christian. and then say in america, the enlightenment tends to be fairly friendly to christianity. it isor just that we'll have mae a little bit of an updated version ofld christianity. a little more modern version. butia most of the advocates wou
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say, of course we're christian. christianity is the best religion of all and it accords with rationiality and modern learning.ha so they wouldn't have seen attention betweenla those thing. one of the ways this plays out. there is a growing tendency to explain things naturally. and for sure when you compare the mentality of americans from, say, ea1692 when the salem witchcraft trials to 1800 and the years after the american revolution, something has definitely changed on a popular level. there are still people i who believe in strong supernaturalism and even in things like witchcraft. if you go from 1692 to 1700 to e 1750 to 1800, there is a declining tendency to see things
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exclusively supernatural terms. so saye your cow dies unexpectedly. yourur cow is fine one day. the next day the cow is frothing at the mouth and deals over and what do you think has happened? in 1692, you might think, especially if you've had a reason argument with sort of a spooky neighbor, that a spell has been cast on your cow. andde you don't, you know, it ia reflection of, that isht the wod a world of wonders and magic and these things. so you might think, maybe it's a ma malevolent spiritual attack on me. int, 1800, some people might stl think that but it is a lot more likely that people let's, they got v a disease. these things happened. there's aen medical reason for . you may not have a very good
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medical explanation for it. you tend to think about it not in terms of spiritual powers but the natural world. these things happen. there isis not really an explanation forot it. it is not god getting us or witches getting us. my cow got sick and died. that is a very important mental change,, isn't it? you see in that the beginnings of the modern secular world. even today, many devout religious people, if something bad happens too them, they don' naturally thinknk it is a spiritual attack on them. some people might but most people would say, well, what can you do? bad things happen. in theology, there's a related tendency to say, we still study theology. we stillbl g want to understand as best we can. but anything we believe biblically aboutct god must accd
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with rationality. so you take something like the doctrine of predestiation which we talk about with the puritans where god elects only certain people to be saved. and leaves everybody else to theirel own devices, which mean judgment and damnation. the rational theologians say, that doesn't make b sense. i don't think god would act like that. i think god would give people all the freedom to decide whether to believe or not. that accords with normal standards of rationality. but you can s see, i'm sure som of you may-c agree with that. but you can see what you've there is a little step toward a kind of human centered type theology. because god must be understandable. god must beou accessible. god must live up to our
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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 early 1700s. harvard had been founded the first american college, founded almosty exclusively for traini puritan pastors in the 1630s. and by the early 1700s, hit become captured by absolutely christian theology. this n rational nonpuritan theology. so new englanders start a new college as a more conservative alternative that will go back morekn to pure tan type theolog. and that college was yale. yale was the conservative bible
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college. right? so we can have an alternative to harvard. almost all theer colonial amerin colleges, the ivy league schools, most of themou were founded in the colonial period and they're almost all founded as collegesll for the training c pastors. almost no one else went to college. no women went to college. and iff you twoeblt college, it was almost in theaw colonial period to become a pastor. okay? it was a more modern philosophy and oitheology. and then a third reason for the sense of crisis is ongoing war with catholic france and spain and their native-american allies. starting in the 1690s, the colonies, especially new england, go through a couple of
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generations of imperial war between britain and the british and t then either france or spa and in new utengland, the main issue is fighting against the forceses of france coming out o canada or new france. whatnc they called new france. there is no natural boundary there. ife you think about it, englan and france are fighting in the same time period, too. the english channel separatesba them. for the colonists in new england, there is no natural barrier. so the french and they had more native-american allies than british did. so you would have attacks from the french on frontier villages. native-american raids on villages. sometime even when britain and france weren'ts technically at war, you would have new england and new france fighting these low level but vicious wars with
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one another. 1720s. there's a war, you know on, the eve of the great awakening. a war between new france and new england that was inspired by a french catholic missionaryga wh isis operating in maine and he' telling the indians, stick up for your rights against english. don't let them take your land. they have this d war. the new englanders commission a bounty against this catholic priest in maine who is encouraging the native americans. they send out him a war party against them and they shoot him and kill him. and they scalp him, the missionary. right? theyna scalp him and bring his scalp back to boston. we talk about they're barbaric. who is barbaric? they're scalping a catholic missionary.tu it's a vicious time all the way
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around. so ifu' you got these troubling intellectual changes, you got social changes. you've got war. war is such a contributing factor. the fear of the judgment of god. ifby we don't stick close to go we may be overrun by the french. we may be overrun by native-americans. and allcr of these things are feeding into salem witchcraft trials. they areray feeding into a sensf religious crisis through the colonies, i gthink, in general. especially in new england. 1720s, 1730s, and then guess what. you getimhe the great awakening. now, i mean, most people feel like the time they live in is a time of crisis. but there is no doubt that the colonists felt that crisis in the 1730s. and i think culturally,
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religiously, that set them up for a new religious awakening. and the first great awakening, 1730s i and' 40s is the great event. although h cascading events kee going into the revolutionary period in the 1770s. and it is hard to explain why didcu the great awakening happe? you can look at social and cultural factors. you can look at the history of the decline of puritanism. and for sure, some of you would look at spiritual factors that still today, the people will say that there are spiritual divine reasons why god made this happen. and in, history class, we don't spent much time on that kind of but there is no question in the 1720s, 1730s, you find evidence
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of pastors across the colonies and inas new england telling thr people they need to pray for revival which is a ferm is used in the bible in the psalms, revive us again. and what they're talking about is that they want for the people to ben praying for an outpourin of the holy spirit, third person of thef trinity, to be poured ot so that people will come back to god. lots of a people will convert t christianity for the first time even though basically all these people were at least nominally christian. so they'll have a conversion people who nd maybe had fallen away from god will return to god and return to their commitment to god. sod in the jeremiads, we need t
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straighten up and living right andes doing what we know god was us to tdo. in the 20s and 30s, they tweaked it a little bit. they sayd we're so far gone tha what we need is divine rescue. it is not about morality anymore. what we need is a revival created by god c through the hox spirit. we ned that to change our society. and so l i think we can reasonay expect if pastors are calling on people to pray like this, some people were responding to the pastors' calls and praying for revival. so in the 1730s and '40s, what you think about that has to do with whatd your belief is about prayer, does prayer do anything. a lot of christians for sure would say, well, people prayed and god responded to their
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prayers to a significant extent. it also could be if you were more skeptical, you would say, the moreho they talk about revival, the morepl likely it wl happen. and actually, those two explanations can probably work together. so what is different about the first great awakening? onedi is it is an outbreak of great religiousus intensity and fervor, individual passion, conversion,he life changing eves and tpeople's autobiographies. but another thing that is different is the role of the itinerant preachers. 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. parish, your church, that's who you speak to.
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in the firstli great awakening, you start to see a critical role for traveling preachers who cause a sensation everywhere they go. and their brilliant preachers, they travel around and they become rfamous. atll least regionally. whitfield becomes famous internationally. having a reputation of being this brilliant preacher. and you can't wait for them to get there. and it is new. it is exciting. and they have a laser focus, these itinerants do, on the message thatt you need to accep christ's free offer of salvation. that you need to be born again. born lagain. if you remember, jesus talks about the born again experience in the gospel of john 3 to see the kingdom of god, you must be
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born again. so they're not inventing this experience out ofif nowhere. it is a long time biblical message. but people in the past maybe have had differentni understandings of what born again meant. people in the first great awakening are real aclear. what you need is that as an adult, or at least a teenager, you need to understand for yourselfd that you're a sinner. that your sin has caused a serious problem between you and god. god is offering you forgiveness you this christll and what chri has done on the cross. and thatn you need to personall accept that offer of forgiveness in order to be in right standing withir god. when w do you that, usually at time at least, a short spiritual crisis for you, when do you that, that is your moment of being born again. and that everybody needs to have this experience. okay. so the parish minister, the
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parishou pastor, might be talki about a lot of topics week to week. the itinerants are really focused on you need to be born 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 greatestth theologian of the grt awakening is jonathan edwards who we have a picture of in the upper right hand corner. edwards is best known for his serm only, sinners in the hands of an angry god. 1741.on, sinners in the hands o
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an angry god. 1741. hepa does a little traveling, mt of the time he sticks to his church likela most average pasts do. butfl sinners in the hands of a angry god, he gives in a nearby village in connecticut while traveling around in the summer of 1741. sods 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 couldll do a whole class on just jonathan edwards. he wrote a ton and it is very intellectually. sophisticated ad challenging. but he is best known for this one sermon.
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sinners in the hands. of an angy god. it gets an hospital to justifiesed and people read it today. andd it is a good news/bad news kind of thing. it is an absolutely brilliant sermon. and it is n frightening if you' ever read it. i'll read an excerpt in a second. we should not mistake him for someo kind of screaming, crazy, somebody you see on late night tv yelling about, you're all going to hell and this kind of thing. he is a titanic intellect. the last job he had in his life was b the president of the colle of new jersey at princeton. so he was the president of princeton college because that he had kind ofe intellectual reputation. i when he preached, including in sinners of the angry god, he had a manuscript in front of him that he had written ,out.
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and he read the manuscript. i think he would try to give it some feeling. the power is in the content. not in the fireworks. soso when he gave sinners in th hands of an angry god in 1741, it got an intense reaction to the people who were there. some of the people in the meeting when he gave it started crying out for mercy. what can i do to be saved? they were whent he saw what was happenin it was getting noisier and noisier in the meeting room. heer closed up his sermon and h said i think weh don't need to get thisse crazy. so o he's not necessarily looki for this outlandish response.
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even secular scholars of the colonial period, people who don'tat believe in christianity andd so forth. negligent edwards is intellectually brilliant. and that his rhetoric is just stunning. that'sal one of the reasons peoe still study y sinners in the has of an angry god. the rhetoric of it. specially if you've ever read it, you'llou never forget the image of the spider hanging over the fire. have you read this in an anthology? i'll read you a couple paragraphs here. he says your wickedness makes youu as it were heavy as lead. ando, to tend downwards great weightly and pressure toward he. and if god should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly h descend and plunge in theve bottomless gulf. and then he says, the god who
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holds you over the pit of hell much as one hold as spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked. his wrath toward 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 you in his sight. you areen 10,000 times as abominable in his eyes as the most hateful, venomouser is penalty is in ours. you havedi offended him more infinitely more than a stubborn rebelou did his prince. and yet, yet, tis nothing but you from hat holds falling into the fire every moment. soce you see the contrast betwe god's judgment and god's grace. both very intense. and he says how dreadful is the state of those that are daily
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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. we lay out people's desperate case because of their sin. and you say, the rescue is available to you through being born again. the basic content of virtually everyn great awakenin laser focus. you need to be born again. okay? and you can imagine, it is frightening, isn't it? the g pit of hell, the insect or the fire and what if he lets you go? what ifwi he lets you go? you can imagine people falling out.un and they're as sure about this as we're sure about the sun
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coming up in the morning. this iss absolutely no doubt, this is true to them. they don't have any doubt. they want to make sure they're right with god. soec edwards is the great defenr of the great awakening. he gets stereo typed because of the sermon as a fire and brimstoneha preexer. most of his sermons are not like this. he preaches a lot more about the love of god than the judgment. god. i think his h most representati sermon, if i had to recommend one sermon for people to read by edwards, it is call heaven is a world of love. you can finds. it on the intern. that iss i think the core of edwards bust if he's on the topic, he will also preach about the judgment of god and he can put in it terrifying terms. butin he's incredible intellect. i can't tell you everything he is writing about, definitely
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about predestination, writing about original sin about, enlightenment challenges to the traditional christian faith. so he becomes, he is definitely onee of america's greatest theologians. if you care about this, you have to read edwards. heoc matches enlightenment thout with traditional christianity. he says, we know this from john lock. this is how this works with traditional christianity. he's read everything. he's's using it to show why eve in an enlightened age trarks additional christianity is the most compelling theological system. it is absolutely brilliant. what he gets known for is this one sermon. not saying it is a bad sermon there's a lot more to 's edwards. okay? edwards is not the most famous
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preacher at the time. he is more famous today. the most famous preacher at the time for sure is george whitfield. and continuing way it is spelled, it looks like whitefield. on good authority i'm told it was pronounced whitfield. he is by far the most famous preacher of the 1740s. and it is even more than that. he is the most famous person in britain in america in his time. the only m competitor that he h is king george. and maybe more people knoww kin george's name. a lot more people have seen whitefield in person, have read his stuff, his journals, his
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sermons. we think by thedy end of his career, he dies in 1770. that probably like three quarters of everybody who lived in america heard him preach. he is a bigger celebrity in his time than anybody we have in our culture today. because in our culture, we live in a celebrity-driven culture. but we're dispersed. right? some people like justin bieber. some people don't like justin biebeler. i won't do a poll but you know what i'm saying. everybody knows whitefield. even if you're a critic, you've had to sort of deal with whitefield. he is arguably the first modern
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celebrity. i did not say religious celebrity. i said first modern celebrity. whene 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 boston00 in the early 1740s. say, 25,000 people show up when there is about 17,000 people living in boston at the time. h so effectively, the whole population of the l town, plus people from the hinterlands. when he preaches in london, they say 60, 70, 80,000 people are coming to hear him. and you'll remember, this is pre electricity. not have what? a microphone.
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if you've ever read ben autobiography, they were closeir business associate first and then friends.kl franklin, when whitefield went toun philadelphia, a littlein experiment. franklin does experiments, right, and 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, 30,000 people could hear him speaking at one time sohe that tells you that whitefield, he had a background in the theater as a teenager. he was t a play actor before hi conversion. he knew how to project his voice, and i think he must have just been enormously loud. okay? and a lot of the portraits that we have whitefield is when he's old and kind of sick, so i -- i like portraits like this one when he's a young man,
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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, and unlike edwards, whitefield's presentations were without a manuscript. he would pretty much memorize his sermons, and he had a repertoireld of, you know, a selection of say a 10 or 15 sermons that he would kind of rotate through because all he did was itinerate. 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 are reacting to, and he's moving around the stage, h and he would in effect act out, if he's talking about say the story of the prodigal
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son from the gospels, he would put himself almost in the character of say the father waiting for the prodigal son to come back,ed a, you know, he would act. me. thinks i see the father waiting for the lost son to come back, and he would -- he would act it out, you know, and act outig the part of the son theren the pig pen eating the stuff that they through out, only fit for the pigs toct eve. he'sha acting, and sometimes he would evenno be, you know, weepg the way thate a actor weeps. not because it's fake but because he's into the story. it wasw, very powerful. if i could just have a youtube clip, you know, of anybody, you know, i besides jesus. i would love to have a youtube clip of george whitefield because you could p see what he
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was like. people were justte blown away wn they hear him speak. this the might be my favorite painting of whitefield, and it's because of the woman. i like it that it's a young whitefield. i lovee the young woman. she's like i can't believe i'm in the front row of a whitefield meeting, right, and she's, you know, 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 -- i mean, she's -- she's smitten. i mean, this is -- this is the first british sensation. it's not trivializing it to say that this is like the beatles in a much lighter electronic age, but that's the kind of effect that whitefield had on people. obviously a very different
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message, but this is revival for sure, but there's a celebrity sensation that it creates, so huge responses. hugege 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. you have to -- at the margins of the crowds so that more people can get in. it's a mosh pit being up front, you know, packed together as close as you can get. if you're on the mar egyptian of the crowd, you want to be, you know, just off in the distance. you could hear them preenchings 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, you know, kind of
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christian devoteees of whitefield, but it's because his brilliance was encapsulated in the sermon as delivered. youu had to be there, to really geten it. i've writtenen a book on whitefield and i have this cents 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'tt have to be there fo edwardsis because it's his idea and they are 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,ia people who are not christian, not religious, not devout themselves, it may seem
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like, well, there's sort of a quaint thing this happened in thee 1730s and '40s and maybe nt that interesting to people on the outside, but i would also saye that the great awakening i also significant because of the controversy o culturally, sociay that it creates. it is extraordinarily controversial and disruptive in colonial society. it is the biggest upheaval in the british colonies before the americann revolution happening0 years before the american revolution. it's the biggest social upheaval in the colonies before the american revolution, so even from a 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
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being a pastor is a very socially respected office, and if youur have a state church, a established religion,ed then th pastor is on the government payroll, and i he's a representative of the government as well as the church, and so if you attack the pastor are, you're attacking a representative of the state, and that just never was done, at least not very often, before the great awake anything, but some of the itinerants, even whitefield from time to time especially from early on would suggest incredible things about the official minister, and he wouldwo say, you know, your pasr is not very supportive of the rivals, iss he? he's uncomfortable with this new work of god that's broken out.
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do you know why that might be? i thinkk it's because your pasr himself may not actually be a converted christian. now, that's a a rude thing to s about a pastor, isn't it? i i mean, you know, the pastor does not like this. the pastor is extremely offended to have these touring itinerants come uaround, come into up to d maybe each stand up in the pulpit of your church and say i think's your pastor may not be converted and that's why he's not supportive of the revivals. no one has ever spoken about the pastors this way before. extremely controversial. the radical preachers, the ones who were just really inflammatory. example, james davenport who you alll will have read about. he's the most radical, controversiall preacher in new england. he goes into churches early on,
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and he starts naming names. i'veve got a list here of all t pastorsnv in boston who are not converted. they are goingng to hell. the can you imagine? mean, especially in the colonial recalled would, someone showing up and saying that sort of thing. they start s passing laws again itinerants like this, telling them they cannot go uninvited into a pastor's pull pin. they will be arrested if they do. so this is it becoming a legal political controversy, okay? another reason it'sso controversial is because you start to see some common people, usually men but occasionally women when believe they should be able to preach without a formal education. the way this works is they say i know i'med convert. i know when i'm born again.
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it happened three month ago. i'm willed with the holy spirit. my pastor is not supportive of theri revivals. i'm not sure he's a converted christian. i should be able to bleach what i want toat preach. don't matter if i didn't go to harvard or yale or cambridge or oxford. that doesn't matter. the that you're filled with the holy spirit hand that you're supportive of the work of god so farm efforts, you know, who don't go to college for sure and essentially native americans who are in the rerivals.ti acollisionally slaves start standingfo up in the meeting an same i have of god from you and
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listen. there are no settings where you'll see women slaves, native americans, standing up and addressing in this somewhat authoritative way white men. you just don't see it. it doesn't happen anywhere else but these kind of rerival meetings. so you can understand theically theics say that this is crazy. the y'all are nuts. this is socially disruptive, moving out from just beyond the 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's bad in the 1700s to be
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enthusiastic. that means you're half crazy. and that's what the critics said that 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? onebv of the most obvious differences is that the great awakening brings about a sea change in which churches are the most popular and prominent and this is a change that continues on into the 1800s as part of the
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secondod great awakening. in the colonial period the most prom temp churches are the church ofan england, the congregation al church which is the church of the tourist and in the great awakening you tart to see the emerge mej of new denominations that are event hi going to become theost largest profittant church in america. theee baptist churches have bee around for a while, but they are prettyme honest, and he to beco more popular and evangelistic and one of the reason why missionaries are sent coming out of the awakening is guess where, the south. the great awakening begins to
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startea the process by which th south would become much more heavily christian and some of the most popular churches, of course, in the southhe are goin to be the baptists and then the met difficulties. the met difficulties are a movement first withinit the chuh of england. whitefield is had a methodist. you may know the james john wesly who becomes sort of the founding father of methodism. he's almost always inis britain but wesly's missionaries and pastors start to be active in the first great awakening, and especially after the american revolution the met difficulties go out on the frontier and establish eventually thousands of new churches so that by the time of the civil war the met difficulties have gone from being nonexistent at the beginning of the first b great awakening to by the time of the civil war they are the largest protestant denomination in
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america. so the congregationalists, the church of england, anglican church,, what becomes known as the episcopal church. they are kind of left behind in terms of numbers and the methodist and boptist come to the fore. obviously for taylor. . about as far as texas. that's really important to us. revival begante in new england 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 greatat awakening i've talk
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exclusively about america today, but it is an international phenomenon. okay? it iss a transatlantic event sen 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? somet historians have argued tht it's an important prelude to the american revolution. it's debatable. it's a debatable issue because of the way the argument goes. well, if it's this big social upheaval and it's 30 years before the american revolution doesn't it have kind of a conditioning effect on american culture to get itni ready for t american revolution? is it and i i would say, yeah, mean, probably in an indirect way it does, but we also have o remember that britain has its
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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 i to say the grea awakening somehow causes the americanng revolution, but influences the culture, yeah, i think so. i think so. and then for sure, i mean, you're on more solid ground if you say, well, the great awakening inaugurated this evangelical movement within christianity which remains in some d kind of different forms. it's taken twists and turns, you know, billy graham and people like this in the 20th century, you know, 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
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many marts of the world continues to be growing, and some of the leaders and places like suke saharan africa and the evangelical movement, guess, what they look to people like george whitefield and jonathan edwards as examples so i think there's a continuity in the evangelical movement from at least the 1730s and '40s right on through today, so for sure that's the reason why the w gre awakening is significant, okay? all right. that'sve all i have for today. thank you and let me know if you have any questions about your paper,th okay?
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♪♪ >> middle and high school students, your opinion matters so let your voices be heard with c-span's student cam video competition. be part of the national conversation by creating a documentary that answers the question how does the federal government impact your life? your five to six-minute video will explore a federal policy or program that affects you or your community. c-span's student cam competition has $100,000 in total cash prizes, and you have a shot at a grand prize of $5,000. entries for the competition will begin to be received wednesday, september 1th.
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forecompetition rule, tips and more information on how to get started visit our website at next from purdue university, historians talk about religious influence on u.s. politics and foreign policy in the 20th century and why they believe this isn't a widely studied topic. this was part of a two-day conference called remaking american political hits try. >> thank you all for coming. i'll be chairing this roundtable today. i'll give a brief overview of how it came to be and what we're going to talk about and then we'll introduce our group and then we'll get started. so 15 years ago -- >> can you turn the mic on? >> oh. >> there's a


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