Jessica L.

McConkey 1 Perfection Era Paper

Perfection Era Paper Jessica L. McConkey HIS 115 6/5/2011 Gregory Taylor

Jessica L. McConkey 2 Perfection Era Paper

Perfection Era Paper As colonists continued to move into the west and the south at the beginning of the 18thcentury, colonial expansion was changing both the world around them and colonial society (Davidson, 2005). As colonists began to move into the countryside, they found themselves far away from their church meetings and congregations (Davidson, 2005). This led to both the building of many new churches and the establishment of new communities, and also to the spread of Enlightenment ideas that valued the questioning of religious dogma (Davidson, 2005). Because the second Great Awakening encouraged people to join major Protestant churches, the Congregational, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches grew significantly, while American religious leaders encouraged the movement of religious schools and started revivals (Davidson, 2005). These revivals, in a sense, represented and reinforced the national American ideals of democracy and equality (Davidson, 2005). The Great Awakening taught a new democratic ideal-- that a person's most valuable quality was their religious conversion. This ideal was later called perfectionism, and it led to the understood aim of creating a perfect, egalitarian society. Even while holding this ideal, though, society continued to view both women and African Americans as second-class citizens. Later, in some churches, African Americans and women were allowed to speak out, preach to a congregation, and vote, but their influence only extended to religious matters. At this time, women were expected to obey a set of rules that governed their conduct. Women could usually not work outside of their home. As the household grew further from the workplace, the home itself acquired a new identity in society (Davidson, 2005). While they could not take political power, women at this time founded charitable organizations that encouraged close friendships

Jessica L. McConkey 3 Perfection Era Paper

between women, which allowed them a means of expressing their moral authority to society as a whole (Davidson, 2005). The Great Awakening did allow some women and African Americans to take some authority within their churches, but not all congregations supported these changes in the social order. While the status of many women and African Americans grew in regards to their religion, the still could not exercise this new status or their new rights outside of the church (Davidson, 2005). During this time the abolitionist movement began, aiming to obtain equal rights for women and African Americans (Davidson, 2005). This movement hoped to abolish slavery and create more equality, but it was based more on morality than on activism (Davidson, 2005). While both the Great Awakening and the Perfectionist movement had major impacts on American society, it was actually the Second Great Awakening that created the largest social change. The occurrence of the Second Great Awakening paralleled that of the first Great Awakening. It aimed to unify the many factions of Christianity through huge religious revival (Davidson, 2005). Many Christians of differing denominations wanted to be able to apply Christian principles and rules to the secular world. The largest effect of the Second Great Awakening, though, was that membership rose significantly in major Protestant churches like the Congregational, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches (Davidson, 2005).During this time, social activists wanted to both change society and empower other people of faith to do the same thing. As they had been empowered by the egalitarian ideals of the first Great Awakening, women and African Americans were able to play a major role in this movement. The abolitionist party called the Liberty Party was formed during the Second Great Awakening. This party aimed to stop not only slavery, but other social inequalities, like the

Jessica L. McConkey 4 Perfection Era Paper

unequal position of women (Davidson, 2005). The ideals of the Great Awakening, like the Perfectionist movement, were now continuing in the Second Great Awakening (Davidson, 2005). The most important reform movements of this time did not want to withdraw completely from society, but they wanted to entirely change society (Davidson, 2005). This movement was concerned with a huge range of interests, like the abolition of slavery, and equal rights and wages for women. The different Christian denominations could agree that slavery should be abolished, they disagreed on other political and religious issues (Davidson, 2005). An 1800 educational reform movement asked for education to be supported by taxes (Davidson, 2005). This reform was a success, and by the 1850s school attendance, school budgets, and the number of schools had all increased. At this time, Garrison endorsed colonialism as a way to send African Americans back to Africa. Garrison instead came to demand that slavery be quickly ended. Some people, though, saw this movement as racist and instead upheld the principle of racial equality (Davidson, 2005). Because of his controversy, the Methodists and Baptist churches both split into Northern and Southern branches in the 1940s (Davidson, 2005). Of all of the effects of the Second Great Awakening on for women and African Americans. The Perfectionist ideals continued to be significant even past the Civil War. Particularly the ideal of social equality embodied by the Perfectionist movement, which was a major cause of the first and Second Great Awakening and the key idea to American democracy today. The values of the Great Awakening have shaped America today in many ways. America is a place of freedom, and everyone, including women and African Americans, has both equal rights and civic responsibility. The movement for social equality, though, is something that we still strive for today.

Jessica L. McConkey 5 Perfection Era Paper

References Page
Davidson. (2005). Nation of Nations: A. The McGraw Hill.

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