As the borders of the United States expanded during the 19th century, revivalism offered worshippers a source of social and religious structure to help cope with change.
Revival meetings held by preachers gave migrant families and isolated communities a collective spiritual purpose.
In urban centers, where industrialization and European famines brought growing numbers of domestic and foreign migrants, evangelical preachers provided moral order and spiritual solace to an increasingly anonymous population.
The Second Great Awakening gave evangelical Christians a moral purpose to address and eradicate the many social problems they saw as a result of demographic shifts.
Some American Christians were not taken with the revivals.
In the early 19th century, a group of ministers and their followers came to reject certain aspects of Protestant belief, including the divinity of Christ.
Harvard University became a center of cultural authority for Trinitarians as Christians in New England were involved in the debates surrounding Unitarianism.
The world of reform was affected by the founding of the Transcendental Club by a group of Unitarian ministers.
Initially limited to ministers or former ministers, the club quickly expanded to include many literary intellectuals.
The author Henry David Thoreau, the literary critic Margaret Fuller, and the educational reformer Elizabeth Peabody were also included.
There was no established creed for Transcendentalism.
The belief in a higher spiritual principle within each person that could be trusted to discover truth, guide moral action, and inspire art was what united the Transcendentalists.
They referred to this principle as soul, spirit, mind, or reason.
The Transcendentalists established an enduring legacy because they developed distinctly American ideas that emphasized individualism, optimism, and oneness with nature.
The United States was distinguished from Europe by political democracy and readily available land in the 19th century.
Through the special harmony between the individual soul and nature, God, "the eternal ONE", can be seen.
In "The American Scholar" and "Self- Reliance", he emphasized the reliability and sufficiency of the individual soul and urged his audience to overcome their long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands.
It was time for Americans to declare their intellectual independence from Europe according to 10 Emerson.
Simple living, communion with nature, and self-sufficiency were all advocated by Henry David Thoreau.
"Resistance to Civil Government" was a result of Thoreau's sense of rugged individualism.
In the mid-1840s, George Ripley and other members of the utopian Brook Farm community began to promote a vision of society based on cooperative principles as an alternative to capitalist conditions.
Many American Christians responded to the moral anxiety of industrialization and urbanization by organizing to address specific social needs.
Social problems such as intemperance, vice, and crime assumed a distressing scale that older solutions, such as almshouses, were not equipped to handle.
Moralists were concerned about the growing number of urban residents who did not attend church because of poverty or illiteracy.
Voluntary benevolent societies were able to tackle these issues.
Voluntary societies were led by ministers and dominated by middle-class women and printed and distributed Protestant tracts, taught Sunday school, and evangelized in both frontier towns and urban slums.
The associations and their evangelical members lent moral backing to large-scale social reform projects, including the temperance movement designed to curb Americans' consumption of alcohol, the abolitionist campaign to eradicate slavery in the United States, and women's rights agitation to improve women's political and economic.
Christians formed a "benevolent missionary empire" that quickly became a cornerstone of the antebellum period.
During the first half of the 19th century, the reform movements in the United States were not American inventions.
Both sides of the ocean faced the same problems and both collaborated to find solutions.
Europe was affected by many of the same factors that spurred American reformers to action.
Reformers on both sides of the Atlantic communicated with one another.
Enhancing ideas and building networks were crucial to the causes of abolition and women's rights.
Improvements in transportation, including the introduction of the steamboat, canals, and railroads, connected people not just across the United States, but also with reformers in Europe.
Reformers were able to reach new audiences across the world because of the reduction of publication costs created by new printing technologies.
Many of these links were created by missionary organizations from the colonial era.
During the First Great Awakening, major figures traveled in the Atlantic.
The spiritual and personal connections between religious individuals and organizations in the United States and Great Britain have not changed since the American Revolution.
There are multiple areas where these connections can be seen.
In the early 19th century, American and European missionary societies collaborated on domestic and foreign missions.
The transportation and print revolutions meant that news of British efforts in India and Tahiti could be quickly printed in American religious periodicals.
Antislavery work had a transatlantic cast from the beginning.
Many Americans continued to admire Europeans after the Revolution.
Influence extended from the east to the west.
The American Revolution helped inspire British abolitionists, who in turn offered support to their American counterparts.
The American antislavery activists had close relationships with the abolitionists on the other side of the Atlantic.
The antislavery idea of immediatism was adopted by British abolitionists Elizabeth Heyrick and Charles Stuart.
The antislavery delegation consisted of more than 500 people from France, England, and the United States.
All met together in England to end slavery.
Although abolitionism was not the largest American reform movement of the antebellum period, it did foster greater cooperation among reformers in England and the United States.
In the course of their abolitionist activities, many American women began to establish contact with their counterparts across the Atlantic, each group penning articles and contributing material support to the others' antislavery publications and fundraisers.
The bonds between British and American reformers can be traced back to the 19th century.
Efforts to reform individuals' and societies' relationships to alcohol, labor, religion, education, commerce, and land ownership were galvanized by trans-Atlantic cooperation.
Social problems on both sides of the Atlantic were strikingly similar.
American reformers see themselves as part of a worldwide moral mission to attack social ills and spread Christianity.
The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society was established by both American and English antislavery activists to promote worldwide abolition.
Most Americans agree that a good and moral citizenry is important for the national project to succeed, but they also agree that society's moral foundation is weakened.
The narratives of moral and social decline, known as jeremiads, took on new importance in the antebellum period.
The Industrial Revolution and the spread of capitalism had led to a host of social problems associated with cities and commerce, while "traditional" Protestant Christianity was at low tide.
The Second Great Awakening was part of a spiritual response to the changes, revitalizing Christian spirits through the promise of salvation.
The revivals provided an antidote to the insecurities of a rapidly changing world by inspiring an immense and widespread movement for social reform.
Middle-class ministers dominated the leadership of antebellum reform societies as the benevolent empire left from revivalism's early populism.
Middle-class evangelicals had the time and resources to devote to reform campaigns because of the economic forces of the market revolution.
Middle-class culture is often the focus of their reforms.
Middleclass women were at the forefront of reform activity.
They became increasingly responsible for the moral maintenance of their homes and communities, and their leadership signaled a dramatic departure from previous generations when such prominent roles for ordinary women would have been unthinkable.
His wildly popular revivals encouraged his followers to join reform movements and create God's kingdom on earth, as Christians would be motivated to live free of sin and reflect the perfection of God himself.
Many evangelicals were turned toward reform by the idea of disinterested benevolence.
True Christianity requires a person to give up self-love in favor of loving others according to preachers.
Some preachers achieved the same end in their advocacy of postmillennialism as they did in encouraging benevolent societies.