Lesson 1: The First Great Awakening

In the middle of the 18th century, a series of evangelical religious revival movements swept across colonial America. Known as the First Great Awakening, the movements were characterized by emotional religious conversions from a state of sin to a "new birth" and by dramatic and powerful preaching, sometimes outdoors, by itinerant preachers in front of crowds of thousands. The First Great Awakening also marked a new effort by European colonialists to reach out to Native Americans and African-Americans. By examining primary documents from the time, this lesson will introduce students to the ideas, practices, and evangelical spirit of the First Great Awakening.

Guiding Questions

What was the First Great Awakening and how did it affect religious belief in colonial America?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students should be able to: identify when and where the First Great Awakening took place.

Explain the characteristics of religious belief associated with the First Great Awakening.

Identify and discuss the ideas of Jonathan Edwards, one of the leading preachers associated with the First Great Awakening.

Discuss how colonial Americans perceived the First Great Awakening and how it affected the lives of both colonial Americans and Native Americans.