More on revivalism and awakenings

More on revivalism and awakenings: A renewed interest in religion, called the Second Great Awakening (1790-1815) spread through every region of the United States. Hundreds of travelling preachers began to travel the country, setting up revivalist camps in rural areas. Thousands of new converts were made and those who attended meetings, mainly from poor white communities, were often so overcome with the experience that they would roll, jerk, shake, shout and even bark at the height of the services.

The movement also attracted many slaves and free black people to evangelical Protestantism. The Methodists emerged as leaders in the development of religious instruction among slaves. Following its creation in 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention also began missionary work among slaves. The Baptists may have been successful partly because baptism by immersion resembled some initiation rites associated with West African cults.

The slaves worshipped in a wide variety of congregations; with whites, with free blacks, exclusively by themselves, and in private. Slave masters often took house slaves to religious services at white churches, where they sat in separate galleries or in balconies. With white ministers presiding over these services for slaves, the latter often chose instead to hold meetings in their quarters, in ‘praise houses’ or ‘hush harbours’, or even deep in the woods or swamps.     
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