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Religious revival in British North America from 1720 into the 1740s. It was part of a movement, known as Pietism or Quietism on the European continent and evangelicalism in England, that swept Western Europe in the late 17th and early 18th century under the leadership of preachers such as John Wesley. In North America the Great Awakening was a Protestant evangelical reaction against formalism and rationalism in religion, and it had a strong Calvinist element. Revivalist preachers emphasized the need for sinners to fear punishment and to hope for the unearned gift of grace from God. George Whitefield (1714–1770) was one of the most popular, preaching to huge crowds throughout the colonies in 1739–40. Jonathan Edwards also helped inspire the Great Awakening and was its most important theologian. Among its results were missions to the Indians and the founding of colleges (including Princeton Univ.). Another revival known as the Second Great Awakening occurred in New England and Kentucky in the 1790s.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Great Awakening, visit Britannica.com.
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