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  • - [Instructor] In the last video,

  • I started discussing the Second Great Awakening,

  • which was this era of increased religious fervor,

  • religious conversion,

  • and religiously inspired social action

  • that happened in the early 19th century

  • of the United States' history,

  • so approximately 1790 to 1850,

  • although I'd say that the height of this time

  • was from about 1820 to 1840.

  • And the Second Great Awakening involved

  • circuit riders, who were preachers

  • without their own congregation going out,

  • setting up these camp meetings,

  • where they would preach to thousands of people

  • about a very emotional version of Christianity.

  • This included encouraging individuals

  • to give up their ways as sinners

  • and to work for the creation of heaven on Earth.

  • But when we think as historians,

  • it's not enough just to say,

  • okay, there was an explosion of religion

  • in American culture in the early 19th century.

  • Instead we want to say

  • what conditions in American life led to this explosion?

  • Why did this major cultural change happen?

  • So let's explore some of what was going on

  • in the early 19th century

  • that led people to reinterpret religion.

  • As I described in the last video,

  • the Second Great Awakening is part of this larger web

  • of cultural, social, and political movements

  • and economic movements

  • that are going on in this time period.

  • Historians have spent a lot of time

  • trying to figure out what was going on in American life

  • that led to this sudden reemergence of religious devotion.

  • So let's explore more on this side of our web

  • and I have two maps for us to explore here.

  • One is a map of the Erie Canal.

  • And this canal, which allowed goods and crops

  • and all sorts of things to be transported

  • from western New York down to the Port of New York City,

  • and this is kind of the area that we're looking at here.

  • Let's see if I can make it a little more obvious.

  • So this is a blow-up of that little region right there.

  • This canal was completed in 1825.

  • And I tell you this not just because canals are awesome,

  • although they are,

  • but because the Erie Canal is a really important moment

  • in what's called the Market Revolution.

  • Now, I'll go more into the Market Revolution

  • in another video,

  • but what's important about the Market Revolution

  • is that it's this time when how Americans did business

  • and their social interactions

  • with people that they did business with

  • really changed a lot.

  • So there are a couple important aspects

  • of the Market Revolution.

  • One of these is a revolution in transportation,

  • which includes the invention

  • and slow expansion of railroads,

  • canals, like the Erie Canal,

  • steamships.

  • And steamships let you do things like

  • go the wrong way up the Mississippi River

  • and look at all the farmland that leads

  • to this Port of New Orleans here.

  • So these new forms of transportation

  • make it much easier for farmers

  • and people who produce goods

  • to get those goods to distant markets.

  • So if you're a farmer here in Buffalo,

  • now, instead of only being able to sell your apples,

  • say, to people who live within a certain radius

  • before your apples go bad, you can just put them

  • on a nice little barge on the Erie Canal

  • and send them down to New York City

  • within a number of days.

  • Likewise, if you're farming wheat in Missouri,

  • you don't have to sell to just people in here.

  • You can now sell to people

  • all the way down in New Orleans.

  • And that means you can also

  • even sell to people internationally, right?

  • These are the big ports,

  • New York City, Philadelphia, Charleston.

  • So as a producer of goods,

  • you are not just part of a small local market.

  • You're now part of an international market.

  • And it also means you're gonna need ways of communicating

  • with people who are far away,

  • like the telegraph, for example.

  • But one more anxious aspect

  • of this new kind of market-based system

  • is that you're no longer doing business

  • quite so much with people that you know.

  • So you might correspond only by letter or by telegram

  • to the main buyer for your crops.

  • And likewise, someone who's buying those crops

  • might only be able to correspond distantly

  • with the person who's producing them.

  • So this personal relationship

  • between people who are exchanging goods and services

  • starts to erode and that's very anxious

  • for a lot of people.

  • How do you know that the person

  • on the other end of your transaction

  • isn't going to con you in some way?

  • You see this a lot in this time period.

  • The United States also starts to urbanize

  • and there's lots of writing about how people worry

  • that the people that they're passing on the street

  • might be con men or otherwise out to get them.

  • You know, in many ways, up until this time,

  • the United States had something of a barter economy.

  • If you look at people's personal ledgers,

  • you know, everybody kept a very detailed log

  • of what they had given to whom and who they owed what.

  • In an average day, somebody might give you

  • a carton of eggs on credit

  • and you might build a log cabin for somebody on credit

  • because there was this mutual community system

  • of giving and owing that everyone had a notion

  • could be enforced, at least through social mores.

  • Now, as people begin dealing distantly,

  • those social mores don't exist

  • and it makes people really nervous.

  • The other aspect of this Market Revolution

  • that I think is pretty important

  • is, in this time period, more and more people

  • start working for wages

  • as opposed to being subsistence farmers.

  • So, you know, in the early Colonial period,

  • most people worked, it's kind of a family unit.

  • Various tasks might be assigned to various family members,

  • but one way or another, everybody worked in the home.

  • Now, as factories start to spring up

  • as part of the Market Revolution,

  • people are going to work for wages

  • and typically involves a man leaving the home

  • and the woman remaining in it.

  • So we get what was known as the cult of domesticity,

  • where women are the guardians of the home

  • and the moral guardians of their families

  • and men go out into the cruel world and toil away

  • for their daily bread.

  • So why does that matter?

  • Well, one reason that it matters

  • is because people are now no longer their own bosses.

  • Somebody else is the boss of that person.

  • And they only have so much motivation

  • to get something done, right?

  • If your whole family's subsistence depends

  • on you making sure that you get this crop in on time,

  • you're gonna make sure it happens.

  • But if you're just being paid by the hour

  • to run a spindle at a textile factory,

  • how much money your boss makes off your labor

  • isn't really your concern.

  • And so there's a lot of anxiety

  • around making what had been basically a farming nation

  • into an industrial nation.

  • How does one behave as a worker in a factory

  • and how does one, as a factory owner,

  • make sure that you have a sober, intelligent,

  • hard-working, but not too rowdy workforce?

  • So both of these innovations,

  • the relationship between buyers and sellers

  • in distant markets,

  • and the relationship

  • between factory owners and factory workers

  • create anxiety about how you're going to know

  • people are good,

  • how you're going to know that people

  • are holding up their end in society.

  • And one way to promote that is through religion,

  • which tells you not to be a sinner,

  • which tells you to do a good job,

  • which tells you to be a productive member of society

  • and work for the common good,

  • and promote your moral compass.

  • Now, that's just one explanation

  • for why the Second Great Awakening

  • took off in this time period.

  • And you can tell, it's kind of a grim one, right,

  • in terms of promoting religion

  • basically to keep people in line.

  • But that's not the only possible explanation

  • for why the Second Great Awakening may have happened.

  • There are also a bunch of social changes

  • in this time period that could be

  • serious contributors to this explosion of religion.

  • Now, one of these was just westward expansion in general.

  • So as the United States moved west,

  • the rate of western expansion, really,

  • actually increased in this time period.

  • So about 1790, the center of American population

  • was about here, right?

  • So let's think about both north and south,

  • east and west, where people lived.

  • If you kind of totaled them all up

  • and put a dot right in the middle

  • of where everybody lived,

  • it would just be right here kind of on the Eastern Seaboard,

  • as everyone's pretty close to the coast.

  • By 1840, the center of population was way over here.

  • So just think, if this is all the people

  • who had to live there to be on either side of that line,

  • think of how many people have to be

  • on either side of this line

  • for the population to have its center right there.

  • So people have really spread out in this time period.

  • Where before, there was kind of this east coast elite

  • where all the money was,

  • now the Market Revolution has meant

  • that people who live along these byways,

  • live along rivers and canals and railroads,

  • those towns are gonna start

  • having people in them with some money.

  • And so the middle class expands

  • and the amount of people who have the vote expands.

  • So it's really a time of expanding democracy in general,

  • both in terms of wealth and in terms of political power.

  • And so you can see why a religion

  • like that promoted in the Second Great Awakening,

  • the Baptists, the Methodists,

  • that said anyone can have a relationship with God,

  • would become more popular

  • as more and more people started to kind of

  • take their own fates in their own hands, right?

  • This is the time of the rugged individual,

  • a very popular idea that one, you know,

  • pulled oneself by the bootstraps

  • and that's the pioneering spirit.

  • So very characteristic American values

  • that went into making a type of religion

  • with more individuality,

  • with more possibilities for more people

  • much more popular in this time period.

  • And there's one case of this

  • that I think is really interesting

  • and it's in western New York.

  • So in western New York, there's the town of Rochester.

  • And Rochester is really like a boomtown.

  • It's along the Erie Canal,

  • as we saw in the previous map.

  • And Rochester becomes, kind of,

  • almost the epicenter of new religious movements

  • in this time period.

  • So within this radius of Rochester,

  • people called this the burned-over district

  • because there were so many religious revivals

  • in this time period,

  • that it was like the whole district

  • was burned over with hellfire,