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Awakening Freedom: Protestant Revivalism's Effect on the American Revolution

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Technical Report,01 Jul 2015,26 May 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Contemporary studies of the American Revolution tend to focus on either purely secular or religious causes. Such reductionist views obscure the complex interconnection between religion and civil society in colonial America. This study looks at the period of 18th century itinerant revivalism, known as the Great Awakening, and proposes that the revivalists actions and messages created an anti-authoritarian narrative of equality and power emanating from the populace that directly influenced the colonists willingness to resist and take up arms against British authority. In a holistic approach, the study traces the development of the anti-authoritarian narrative through the actions and sermons of the revivalists, coverage in the print media, music and the visual arts. Ultimately, the study finds that the narrative created by the Great Awakening resonated with underlying anti-authoritarian tendencies within the colonists and crossed over to dominate secular discourse in the period leading up to the American Revolution.

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