The Great Awakening

Episodic religious revivals (mistakenly referred to by many historians as a single movement called "The Great Awakening") generally started in New England and worked their way southwards. Evangelical and emotional, the movement challenged the often staid official churches in several colonies. George Whitefield, an important figure in religious revivalism, made seven preaching trips down through the North American colonies. By the 1750s, '60s, and '70s, the after effects of these revivals both invigorated and divided religious communities in the North American colonies. Religious dissenters were sometime persecuted and imprisoned. As many Americans responded to the appeal of evangelical faith, they moved away from the idea of a single authoritarian church protected by the state and toward the concept of religion disassociated from government.

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