Effects of Postmillennialism during the Second Great Awakening


  • Noah Hendrix


The Second Great Awakening (SGA) emphasized evangelism and reform. These reforms took various shapes, including legal, cultural and historical. This new, nonsectarian reform contrasted sharply with religion in Colonial America, where religious conflict was relatively common and the modern concepts of religious tolerance were much less common. This changed following the revolution, and religious tolerance reached a new high along with secularism, but these violent struggles between Protestants did not emerge again during the SGA, even as religiosity became more important. Widespread beliefs in postmillennial eschatology likely played a role in helping Protestants see each other as allies. Also of great importance was those who would pose a threat to the Protestant millennium, primarily Catholics. The anti-Catholic sentiment was more powerful because of this reform movement during the SGA and the perceived threat Catholics posed to an established Protestant America. While other religious groups would have been suspected as well, Catholics were the largest religious minority and the most politically active. The spread of postmillennial thought during the Second Great Awakening made Protestants become more tolerant of different Protestant sects and drove reform efforts, while simultaneously increasing hostility to Catholics and increasing nativism.