Enlightenment and the Great Awakening


During the colonial period in both Britain and the American colonies the existing religious establishment was undercut by a religious revival, which embraced and preached the importance of religious enthusiasm. This Great Awakening, as it is called today, inspired self-confidence, less dependence on authority, and helped to prepare the way for the Enlightenment. The lives of George Whitefield and Benjamin Franklin exemplify the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment, and also the connection between these two important historical developments.


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Paul A. Rahe is the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Professor in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College. He received a B.A. from Yale University, a B.A. from the University of Oxford, and his Ph.D. from Yale University.