Second Great Awakening and Transformation in the US Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer


After the War of 1812, there happened a lot of changes in all spheres of life. The post-war economy of Northern states was characterized by rises and falls. The transportation revolution led to increased migration, expansion of the market economy, growth of industries, trade development, and urbanization. As far as the culture is concerned, the lessened economic role of women and their new position of homemakers led the country to one of the greatest religious revivals, the Second Great Awakening.

Cultural and Economic Changes

By the 1820s, the Erie Canal was constructed, which made a great impact on the economic situation as a lot of ambitious farmers entered the market. Such a desire to achieve success could not go unnoticed for people’s system of values. Charles Grandison Finney was a new type of preacher, who “preached of the power of human spiritual striving. Instead of the stern God of Calvinism, he offered God of justice” (Oakes, et al. 326).

A new religion based on the power of individual effort for salvation appeared. Women played a great role in the Second Great Awakening as organizers and public speakers (Oakes, et al. 327). One of the first religious minority communities appeared in the 1820s and was called the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. This group promoted celibacy and rejected individualism (Oakes, et al. 327).

The Benevolent Empire appeared as a reflection of the need for social changes. It “fostered a broad impulse for social reform, expressed in religious terms and organized through a network of charities and associations“ (Oakes, et al. 330). However, the society soon turned into a bureaucratic corporation (Oakes, et al. 332).

Another important cultural change was connected with the attitude to the ethical issue of slavery. The opponents of it were defeated by the Missouri Compromise. “With the collapse of antislavery politics, the leadership of the movement passed to a small group of articulate abolitionists” (Oakes, et al. 333).

Blacks began to resist slavery delivering lectures on the topic and promoting equality and freedom. Already in the 1840s, militant abolitionism became wide-spread. Some of the whites united under William Lloyd Garrison’s leadership to form the New England Anti-Slavery Society (Oakes, et al. 336). Two political parties were formed as a response but could not withstand the pressure of the problem and collapsed. The new Republican Party promoted the same principle that slavery was local whereas freedom was national (Oakes, et al. 339).

The major economic changes were brought about by the market revolution and immigration. There appeared a lot of out workers who did their job from home. Since workers became interchangeable, their wages dropped threatening their living. This provoked a lot of strikes (Oakes, et al. 339). “After a decade of rapid expansion, the market stalled in 1834” (Oakes 340). The protests failed but the National Trades’ Union was formed (Oakes, et al. 340).

A new middle class benefited from transformations. The paid occupations had expanded, which brought them high salaries. There appeared a distinction between the urban middle class and the working class. This led to the changed role of women, who had to stay at home indicating families’ wealth and respectability (Oakes, et al. 341).

Individualism of the middle class led to the culture of self-improvement, which concerned both body and mind. The temperance movement calling for teetotalism received great support (Oakes, et al. 346). Educational opportunities increased for both whites and blacks. Despite that, women were still far from playing influential roles.

“In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (a Seneca Falls resident), Lucretia Mott and 300 other women and men held the first Women’s Rights Convention” (“Our History” par. 1). The Declaration of Sentiments was passed giving women the right to vote and other privileges. This marked the beginning of the struggle for women’s rights (“Our History” par. 1).


After Andrew Jackson left the office, Americans began to work on reforms promoting equality and justice. However, certain inner conflicts, individualism, slavery, migration, and religious controversies made the situation insoluble.

Works Cited

Oakes, James, et al. Of The People: A History of the United States, Volume 1: To 1877. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Our History.” National Women’s Hall of Fame. 2016. Web.

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