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Eighteenth Century Colonial America. Diversity. Colonial population 2,640,000 48% English (Anglican, Puritan, Catholic, Protestant) 20% African 11% Scotch-Irish (Northern) Protestant 8% German ( Menonite , Lutheran) 5% Dutch (Reformed, other Protestant) 3% Irish (Southern) Catholic

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  • Colonial population 2,640,000
    • 48% English (Anglican, Puritan, Catholic, Protestant)
    • 20% African
    • 11% Scotch-Irish (Northern) Protestant
    • 8% German (Menonite, Lutheran)
    • 5% Dutch (Reformed, other Protestant)
    • 3% Irish (Southern) Catholic
    • 5% Others (Quakers, Jews, others)
rapid growth
Rapid Growth
  • By the end of the 17th century, the colonies were growing exponentially.
  • In New England where attendance of church was mandatory, a desperate need for clergy arose:
    • Harvard established 1636
    • Yale established 1701
    • to train Congregationalist clergy (Puritan) to fill the pulpits as churches popped up everywhere
  • 749 Congregational churches (Puritan)
  • 485 Presbyterian churches
  • 457 Baptist churches
  • 406 Anglican churches
  • 338 Dutch/German Reformed churches
  • 240 Lutheran churches
  • 200 Quaker meeting houses
  • 56 Catholic churches
  • 5 Synagogues
the royal colonies
The Royal Colonies
  • Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland
  • Governors desired to please the crown
  • Decidedly Anglican and often persecuted other religions different from their own
    • On pain of fines, jail and whipping, colonists were required to attend the “established” Anglican Church and pay taxes to support the same
    • Preachers of other denominations risked jailing and torture
  • Anglican influence declined toward the south as the clergy preferred the more affluent areas of Virginia and New Jersey to the diseased and insect infested southern colonies.
  • With the “Enlightenment” sweeping through Europe and Great Britain
  • 1740’s Christian rationalism began to influence the colonies with critical and empirical inquiry.
    • Rationalists belittled traditional faith, substituting human reason as the ultimate authority.
    • God created the natural universe and thereafter never interfered with its natural laws
    • rejected the supernatural and emotions of evangelical worship
    • God was a benign deity who rewarded good behavior with salvation
  • People attending church complained that worship had lost its former intensity and that services had degenerated into meaningless ritual
colonial life
Colonial Life
  • Second only to churches, taverns were a major center of social life in the 18th century colonies
  • Distilleries cropped up in New England
    • Dependent upon imported sugar and molasses from West Indies
  • Meetings were conducted in taverns
  • In early 18th century, church attendance began to wane
    • Church membership became predominantly women
    • Men and youth would no longer attend in force
new england
New England
  • Best access to churches as Congregationalists (Puritans) were largest single denomination
  • Because of their egalitarian views, women had just as much influence in the church. In fact, women members outnumbered men two-to-one.
the great awakening
The Great Awakening
  • The first revivals took place in New England under the preaching of Rev. Solomon Stoddard
  • Although rejecting the rationalist error that anyone could be saved by behaving well, Stoddard was decidedly Calvinist
    • God’s grace was bestowed as an arbitrary free gift
    • if they would forsake their sins that God would act to bestow His grace
  • His grandson was the famous Jonathan Edwards
    • Stoddard taught his grandson and successor the importance of arousing the congregation to seek God’s grace through conversion experiences

1741 Jonathan Edwards preached his famous message “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” ...thousands were born again.

  • Revivals soon spread across colonial borders and denominational lines:
    • Theodore Frelinghuysen, a Dutch Reformed minister, and the Presbyterian brothers Gilbert and John Tennent, Jr the revivals were some of the most synchronous and extensive in colonial experience
    • and spreading back to England, a young Anglican minister named George Whitfield eagerly read the inspiring works of Jonathan Edwards

Solomon Stoddard

Jonathan Edwards

george whitefield
George Whitefield
  • Whitfield adopted the evangelical style of his American colleague which put him at odds with the dominant rationalism which had largely stagnated the Church of England.
  • Whitfield became a tireless itinerant, crisscrossing the extent of Wales and England preaching to thousands of factory workers, miners and country commoners.
  • His voice was exceptional, captivating and could be plainly heard by the largest crowds. His dramatic movement s and eloquence held his audiences spell-bound and crowds eagerly gathered to hear this great evangelist.
  • He sent workers ahead of time to pass out handbills and post announcements regarding upcoming revival meetings.

When the colonists heard of Whitfield’s revivals in England, they eagerly longed to hear him as well. During 1739-1741, Whitfield toured the colonies from Maine to Georgia.

  • The money collected in the offerings he sent to help the orphanages in Georgia.
  • While in Philadelphia, Whitfield befriended Benjamin Franklin although the latter was quite skeptical of the evangelist’s true motives at first. Franklin was a confirmed rationalist and determined not to contribute to the offering.

“I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded, I began to soften, and concluded to give the coppers. Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably, that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collector’s dish, gold and all.”


Franklin so applauded Whitfield’s work in America, that he became one of his most avid supporters attributing Whitfield’s messages as the single most important reason for the improved morals of Philadelphia’s common people.

  • Publishing Whitfield’s messages in his Pennsylvania Gazette, Franklin helped spread Whitfield’s message far beyond the reach of his marvelous voice. American publishers produced over 80,000 copies of Whitfield’s booklets, enough for ten percent of the entire population in the American colonies.
  • After Whitfield left in 1741, the colonial churches swelled in membership well into 1742. The impact was most dramatic in New England especially among men and youths such that it reversed what had been a female majority in their churches for decades preceding the Great Awakening.
  • The southern colonies were Royal colonies and strictly followed the decrees of the Crown including the intolerant rule of Anglican Church
    • no minister permitted to preach w/o ordination by Anglican bishop in England
    • church attendance was mandatory (violators penalized 50# tobacco)
  • Toleration Act of 1689 eased things a little
    • under protestant regency of William and Mary
    • “dissenters” could apply for license
    • several Baptist churches founded 1714-1756
baptists come to va
Baptists Come to VA
  • Shubal Stearns converted under Whitfield in Boston was ordained Baptist and led of God to Guilford County, NC
    • established Sandy Creek Baptist Church 1755 with 16 members
    • quickly grew to 600
    • other Baptist churches sent out from here into Virginia
  • Multitudes abandoned dead Anglican churches and found new life in Baptist Churches

The Separates and the Baptists took seriously the spiritual equality of all awakened people.

  • They ordained their own preachers who, preaching in open fields, private homes and barns
    • reinforced their break from the traditional practice of arranging church pews in a hierarchy of status.
    • Social distinctions were suspended as there was unashamed mixing of rich and poor; Indian, white and black; men and women.
    • Women were influential and could vote in the congregation to select a pastor, approve church projects, etc.
anglican backlash
Anglican Backlash
  • Stung by loss of parishioners, Anglican leadership resorted to persecution of Baptists
    • sermons were interrupted by snakes or hornet nests tossed in windows
    • drunken mobs were stirred against them
    • 1758 Col Samuel Harris of VA militia was converted and became a preacher
      • first Baptist minister to be jailed in VA
    • his convert(a former drunkard) Lewis Craig turned preacher and was arrested in 1766 for “ keeping unlawful [meetings] and worshipping God contrary to the law of the land”

During his trial, the jury took recess in a nearby tavern

    • the crowd hushed in shock when the defendant Craig walked in!
    • “gentlemen, I thank you, for your attention to me, when I was about this court yard in all kind of vanity, folly and vice, you took no notice of me; but when I have forsaken all these vices, and warn men to forsake and repent of their sins, you bring me to the bar as a transgressor, ... how is all this!”
  • One of jury, “Swearing Jack” Waller was so moved he was converted , settled his gambling debts and began itinerant ministry of his own.

8 mos later, Waller found himself in prison with Craig, accused of disturbing peace

    • “These men are great disturbers of the peace; they cannot meet a man upon the road but they must ram a text of scripture down his throat.”
    • they refused offers to be released if they promised not to preach for a year

Coming to the defense of the Baptist preachers was the famed patriot-lawyer Patrick Henry

    • he was always a friend of liberty
    • paid expenses out of his own pocket
    • often paid the fines levied against preachers

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not be religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” Patrick Henry


As in Acts 6:7, “the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied.”

  • The number of the Baptist churches grew in the period 1769-1774 from 7 to fifty-four!
  • When the preachers could no longer go to the people, the congregations boldly came to the jails!
  • James Ireland spent 5 months in jail preaching through the bars to huge crowds

Independent Baptists were not alone reaping a harvest during the Great Awakening

  • revival spread to Presbyterians, German-speaking communities
  • But as revival spread, reprisals became more brutal
  • Waller while preaching was interrupted by county sheriff and the parish minister.
    • when he attempted to pray, sheriff rammed horsewhip down his throat
    • He was dragged outside and brutally beaten
    • though bloodied, Waller continued his sermon
remarkable change
Remarkable Change
  • by late 1760s, the courage of the Baptist preachers was widely publicized
  • many sympathized with the dissenters and began to petition House of Burgesses for religious freedom.
  • In 1775 a petition with 10,000 signatures was presented throughout the colony received a successful hearing
    • all denominations began to join the band wagon
    • result Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776
roots of the first amendment
Roots of the First Amendment
  • In 1780’s these dissenters in Virginia formed a coalition with the Deist rationalists to frame the First Amendment to the Constitution
  • Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut wrote to President Thomas Jefferson in 1801 reaffirming these concerns
the indian factor
The Indian Factor
  • Six-tribe Iroquois Nation separated the French colonies along the St Lawrence from the English colony of New York along the Hudson
  • Savvy politicians recognized their importance:
    • “On whose ever side the Iroquois Indians fall, they will cast the balance” New York’s governor was told
    • “The Iroquois are more to be feared than the English colonies” Governor-General of New France 1711
the seven years war
The Seven Years War
  • Beginning in 1754 in North America (where it was called “French and Indian War”) as a conflict between Britain and France over colonies
  • in two years evolved in to a global conflict
  • it was the first conflict in which the colonist militias worked with British regulars
  • British colonists learned hard lessons that the European style of massed troops out in the open were no match for the guerilla style fighting of the French and Indians
william pitt
William Pitt
  • During the reign of Hanoverian Kings (George I & II), the role of the Prime Minister became prominent, overshadowed crown
  • Pitt masterminded the global conflict that elevated Britain to the place of a world power
  • he was lover of liberty and a friend of America

Britain and Prussian allies fought against everyone else: Spain, France, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Hungary

  • The war involved the colonies of Europe in Americas and Asia

In Fall of 1753, Major George Washington of Virginia Militia was commissioned by Governor Dinwiddie in Williamsburg to carry a message

    • the French had been fortifying the Ohio Valley and forging alliances with the local Indian tribes
    • Washington was to inform them to clear out of the Ohio Valley as they were infringing upon the territory of the Royal Colony. French rejected the message & turned the Indians on his party
    • During the 250 mile trek back through the frontier wilderness, Washington survived an icy plunge into the Allegheny River and an Indian’s attempt to kill him
jumonville glen 1754
Jumonville Glen 1754
  • In opening battle of conflict, LCol Washington returned to Ohio River Valley with 100 militia and 50 British-allied Iroquois warriors and surprised a French garrison of 50 men outside Fort Duquesne
    • while French were sleeping , Washington attacked with bayonets: killing 10 including French captain
battle of fort necessity
Battle of Fort Necessity
  • Washington was pursued by 700 French reinforcements
  • set up makeshift garrison at Ft Necessity in hopes of help
  • after a valiant attempt to hold the position, Washington’s forces outnumbered and their powder wet by rain were forced to surrender
  • French generously allowed them to return to Williamsburg, not wishing to provoke a war
braddock s defeat
Braddock’s Defeat
  • A force of 2,000 British regulars and Virginia militia led by M Gen Edward Braddock attempted to take Ft Duquesne 1755
  • Washington served with Braddock; Gen ignored advice of his eight Indian guides
  • After the troops crossed the Monongahela River, they marched straight into French and Indian ambush
  • after several attempts to rally his troops, Braddock was shot in the chest and taken off the field by Washington.
    • As he lay dying, he gave his sword sash to Washington;
    • the latter never went anywhere without the sash the rest of his life
  • Washington had 4 bullet holes in his coat & 2 horses shot from under him! Washington saved half the force by organizing a brilliant retreat
    • overall 1,000 British forces killed or wounded, 40 French/Indian casualties
french and indian war
French and Indian War
  • the British and colonial militias continued to push the French in N America and in 1756 this led to a formal declaration of war which spread throughout Europe and Asia
  • 1756 LenniLenape and his Shawnee raiders attacked the western frontiers of Pennsylvania, Virginia & Maryland
    • forced colonial retreat to within 100 miles of Philadelphia
  • 1757 Combined forces of French regulars, Canadian militia and their Indian allies captured British forts on Lake Ontario and Lake George
french and indian war1
French and Indian War
  • Provoked by two years of embarrassing set backs, George II bowed to public pressure and allowed William Pitt to control the administration as “Prime Minister”
    • Pitt selected from House of Commons “the Great Commoner”
    • Friendship & respect of Parliament and people
  • Pitt poured money and resources into North America
    • 45,000 troops (half British regulars, half colonial militia) were committed
    • New respect for colonial militia
    • selected admirals & generals on basis of merit rather than political connections, much more ready to listen to Indian & colonial leaders
  • By 1759, the British had pushed to Quebec and Gen James Wolfe defeated French forces outside the city but was mortally wounded.
  • The city was taken and in 1760, French sovereignty in N America was broken and they surrendered to the British:
  • Canada transformed into a British colony 1761
aftermath of the french indian wars
Aftermath of the French & Indian Wars
  • Initially the colonies rejoiced that western frontier was secured and that they had a part in making Britain the strongest empire on earth
  • But then the colonies were no longer “forgotten in obscurity” but the British administration was considering how to reel them in
  • Britain now had incurred a large national debt and the colonists were to share the pain
  • With the French removed, the Indians now had only the British on which to take out their frustrations as settlers ignored the borders set between the colonial governments and the Indians
  • Colonists learned the importance of the Indians and not to use European tactics in North America:
    • not to engage a superior force in frontal assault
    • but rather engage in repeated guerilla attacks and withdrawals before enemy counter-attacks
    • Friendship & alliance with the Indians important