Reviving the Spirit, Reforming Society: Religion in the 1800s
by Kenneth McIntosh
Founded on the principles of religious freedom, America in the 1800s was fertile ground for the expansion of religious movements and all kinds of experiments in spiritual matters. Americans in the 1800s took their religion very seriously. Away from the authority of established churches, the American frontier from upstate New York to the wilds of the Utah territory was a hotbed of new, radical religion based on a personal experience of salvation, direct revelation, and enthusiastic, highly emotional gatherings at camp meetings. At the forefront of the movement to abolish slavery and women's rights, idealistic men and women in the more established Protestant churches heard a new social gospel from an educated and progressive clergy. Meanwhile, large numbers of Catholic immigrants and Jews from Central and Eastern Europe established their own religious institutions in a new land. The religious history of America in the 1800s is rich and diverse and highly influential in the social and political evolution of our country.
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