Logo Homeschool World ® Official Web Site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine Practical Homeschooling Magazine
Practical Homeschooling® :

Forgotten American History - The Great Awakening

By Sam Blumenfeld
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #56, 2004.

Pin It

Sam Blumenfeld


Paul Johnson, the author of A History of the American People, writes: "[T]here was a spiritual event in the first half of the 18th century in America, and it proved to be of vast significance, both in religion and in politics." He is writing about the Great Awakening, a religious revival started by impassioned preachers determined to bring as many souls as possible to the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

By the early 18th century, through hard work, a prosperous seagoing trade, and practical inventiveness, the colonies had grown rich and the churches in the cities had become respectable and stale. And that is why the revival started away from the cities in the country among the German immigrants. In 1719, Theodore Frelinghuysen, a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church, led a series of revival meetings in the Raritan Valley in which he stressed the need for Bible study among the people.

In Neshaminy, Pennsylvania, William Tennent (1673-1745) built his Log College, a primitive rural academy that taught basic academics as well as religion. Frontier religion consisted of rhetorical fireworks and enthusiastic hymn-singing, quite unlike the staid services in the respectable churches of Boston and Philadelphia.

In Massachusetts, it was the intellectual Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) who spurred the revival in New England where religious liberalism was dampening the old Calvinist spirit. His sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," was read throughout the colonies and memorized by many lesser evangelists who wanted to melt hardened hearts. In his discourse, "God Glorified in the Work of Redemption," he asserted that the happiness human beings find in the "Glorious Excellences and Beauty of God" is the greatest earthly pleasures as well as a spiritual transformation.

But perhaps the greatest and most effective of the Awakening preachers was George Whitefield (1714-70), who came to America from England "to blow up the Divine Fire lately kindled." He preached to huge crowds in the open air and converted thousands of souls.

The Awakening also spurred the founding of such great institutions of learning as Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, King's College in New York, which later became Columbia, and the College of New Jersey, which became Princeton. Thus the religious revival also emphasized the need for learning and inspired a vision of the future in which, Edwards said, "God shall take the kingdom." Paul Johnson writes:

The Great Awakening was thus the proto-revolutionary event, the formative moment in American history, preceding the political drive for independence and making it possible....It was the marriage between the rationalism of the American elites touched by the Enlightenment with the spirit of the Great Awakening among the masses which enabled the popular enthusiasm thus aroused to be channeled into the political aims of the revolution....Neither force could have succeeded without the other.

And that is why the Christian religion has been such an integral part of the American psyche, from colonial times to the present. Without that spiritual component, America would not be America. And that is why the humanists and atheists will never succeed in separating America from its religion. Christianity is the bedrock of our basic culture no matter what Hollywood and the liberal media may do to negate that fact.

Thus, the Great Awakening is a subject that homeschoolers should study in depth because it will teach them the significance of Christianity in our past and its continued significance in our future. Read the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield and discover the power that galvanized the thirteen colonies into a single union that permitted them to wage a most difficult War of Independence against the mightiest military power on earth.

In back of the Declaration of Independence was the Word of God inscribed in the hearts of the colonists who would be free. As Paul Johnson said, neither force could have succeeded without the other.


Was this article helpful to you?
Subscribe to Practical Homeschooling today, and you'll get this quality of information and encouragement five times per year, delivered to your door. To start, click on the link below that describes you:

USA Individual
USA Librarian (purchasing for a library)
Outside USA Individual
Outside USA Library

Time4Learning

Articles by Sam Blumenfeld

The Whole-Language Boondoggle

High School for Freedom!

Dyslexia: The Man-Made Disease

Teach Reading to the “Learning Disabled”

Uncle Sam Wants Your Child on his National Database

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

Teach Reading to the "Learning Disabled"

Homeschooling and Charter Schools

Homeschoolers and Vouchers

The History of Public Education

College At Home

Learning from The "Old Dead Guys"

The Meaning of Educational Freedom

The Importance of Rote Learning

The Exodus Continues

A World Without Public School

The Benefits of Teaching History at Home

How to Tell Real from Phony Phonics?

Getting Started in Arithmetic

Teaching Arithmetic

Teaching the Alphabet

Teaching the Alphabet Sounds

Teaching Blends

Teaching Long Vowels

The History of Geometry Education

Never Bored Again

Learning Greek

How and Why to Teach Shakespeare

How to Get the Most Out of Homeschool Conventions

Forgotten American History: The Barbary Wars

Forgotten American History: God's Providence in the American Revolution

Forgotten American History: The Spanish-American War

Forgotten American History: The Great Awakening

Forgotten American History: Puritan Education

Colonial Education: The Free Market in Action

America Started with Educational Freedom

How Harvard Became Liberal

The Glory of the Alphabet

19th Century Communists & the Origin of American Public Education

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

It Pays to Know Your Legislator

Intelligent by Design

Teaching Kids to Enjoy Classical Music

Before Compulsory Education: The Private Academies

What Schools Teach: Then and Now

The Real Meaning of Easter

The Truth About Independence Day

The Benefits of Reading Biographies

Why We Celebrate Veterans Day

The Purposes of Education

Why Homeschoolers Should be Book Collectors

How History Was Taught Back Then

The American Almanac: A Great Learning Tool

The Fun of Going to an Antiques Auction

Politics and Homeschoolers: A Primer

A Novel Suggestion

Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Why Homeschoolers Should Learn Public Speaking

The Presidency

Party Politics in the United States

The Road to an American Independent Nation

George Washington: Our First President's First Term

George Washington: Our First President's Second Term

Celebrating Flag Day

Popular Articles

The Equal Sign - Symbol, Name, Meaning

Narration Beats Tests

Don't Give Up on Your Late Bloomers

Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

Teaching Blends

Classical Education

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

A Homeschooler Wins the Heisman

Montessori Language Arts at Home, Part 1

Give Yourself a "CLEP Scholarship"

Getting Organized Part 3

Character Matters for Kids

Phonics the Montessori Way

The Charlotte Mason Method

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

Laptop Homeschool

Start a Nature Notebook

Bears in the House

Whole-Language Boondoggle

Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way

AP Courses At Home

How to "Bee" a Spelling Success

The History of Public Education

Joyce Swann's Homeschool Tips

Who Needs the Prom?

University Model Schools

Combining Work and Homeschool

Myth of the Teenager

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

Montessori Math

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

What We Can Learn from the Homeschooled 2002 National Geography Bee Winners

Getting Organized Part 1 - Tips & Tricks

Top Jobs for the College Graduate

The Benefits of Debate

Teach Your Children to Work

Critical Thinking and Logic

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

Top Tips for Teaching Toddlers

The Gift of a Mentor

Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps

Saxon Math: Facts vs. Rumors

How to Win the Geography Bee

Columbus and the Flat Earth...

I Was an Accelerated Child

The Charlote Mason Approach to Poetry

Discover Your Child's Learning Style

A Reason for Reading

Shakespeare Camp

Interview with John Taylor Gatto