Antebellum Period In America Essay
Many revivalists abandoned the comparatively formal style of worship observed in the well-established Congregationalist and Episcopalian churches and instead embraced more impassioned forms of worship that included the spontaneous jumping, shouting, and gesturing found in new and alternative denominations.The ranks of Christian denominations such as the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians swelled precipitously alongside new denominations such as the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.Americans looked on these changes with a mixture of enthusiasm and suspicion, wondering how the moral fabric of the new nation would hold up to emerging social challenges.Increasingly, many turned to two powerful tools to help understand and manage the various transformations: spiritual revivalism and social reform.Camp meetings captured the democratizing spirit of the American Revolution, but revivals also provided a unifying moral order and new sense of spiritual community for Americans struggling with the great changes of the day.
They joined their spiritual networks to rapidly developing social reform networks that sought to alleviate social ills and eradicate moral vice.
By 1850, Methodism was by far the most popular American denomination.
The Methodist denomination grew from fewer than one thousand members at the end of the eighteenth century to constitute 34 percent of all American church membership by the midnineteenth century.
It was a period of great optimism, with the possibilities of self-governance infusing everything from religion to politics.
Yet it was also a period of great conflict, as the benefits of industrialization and democratization increasingly accrued along starkly uneven lines of gender, race, and class.