The First Great Awakening | National Humanities Center

TeacherServe Essays

The First Great Awakening

By Heyrman, Christine Leigh (NHC Fellow, 1985–86)

What historians call “the first Great Awakening” can best be described as a revitalization of religious piety that swept through the American colonies between the 1730s and the 1770s. That revival was part of a much broader movement, an evangelical upsurge taking place simultaneously on the other side of the Atlantic, most notably in England, Scotland, and Germany. In all these Protestant cultures during the middle decades of the eighteenth century, a new Age of Faith rose to counter the currents of the Age of Enlightenment, to reaffirm the view that being truly religious meant trusting the heart rather than the head, prizing feeling more than thinking, and relying on biblical revelation rather than human reason.

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History / Education Studies / American History / Christianity / Thirteen Colonies / Puritans / First Great Awakening / Protestantism /