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Flowerings of religious devotion known as “great awakenings” redrew the nation’s spiritual landscape from the 1730s to the 1760s and again from the 1790s to the 1840s. Led by charismatic preachers including George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Finney, these movements encouraged emotional exuberance in prayer and dramatic conversions at camp meetings and tent revivals. More restrained modes of worship became less popular as Americans sought heightened religious experiences in newly formed denominations such as Methodism, which grew from no churches in the middle of the 18th century to, one hundred years later, nearly twenty thousand.

From America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln by Mark Noll