This week in class, we started off learning the differences between The Great Awakening and The Enlightenment and their purpose in the Revolution. The Enlightenment was a scientific revolution, while the The Great Awakening was a religious revolution. In class, we had a debate arguing which one affected the revolution more. The majority of the class said that the Great Awakening had more impact, I agree with this. The Great Awakening was the splitting of the churches into different sects. It split into “Old Lights,” which were traditional clerics and followers, and “New Lights,” which were the evangelicals, also creating the Methodist and Baptist church. The Enlightenment emphasized acquiring knowledge through reason, and challenging previously known assumptions. This scientific revolution was led by many Enlightenment thinkers such as, John Locke, John and William Bartram,Cotton Mather, and Benjamin Franklin. John Locked believed in the idea of a human is good and their goal in life is to better themselves. John and William Bartram supplied the European knowledge about the New World, so that they can be included in a newly formulated universal classical system. Cotton Mather created advances in medicines, such as curing small pox. Benjamin Franklin did scientific experimentation and public service, believing also in individualism. The Great Awakening was led by George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. Whitefield, in 15 months, preached to the colonies from Georgia to New England. Edwards produced sermons, journals, and observations, he thought of individuals could attain salvation only through the recognition of their own depraved natures and the need to surrender into God’s will. The Enlightenment affected mostly the upper class, while on the other hand, the Great Awakening was a breakdown of the social classes, but affected the lower class mostly. The Enlightenment believed in deism, the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are needed to determine the existence of God. Then, we learned about the differences of economic status in New England, Middle Colonies, Chesapeake, and the Lower Colonies. New England is producing whale oil and potash, which goes to Great Britain, salt fish, going to South Europe, wood products to West Indies. These were acquired through fishing cultivation. The Middle Colonies were producing food stuffs and iron to Great Britain, bread, flour,and grain to West Indies, South Europe, and Hawaii Islands, and meat to the West Indies. These were acquired through farming, hunting, and metal working. The Chesapeake area was producing meat to West Indies, bread, flour, grain to Southern Europe and West Indies, and tobacco to Great Britain. These were acquired by a greater fertility of the soil. The Lower colonies were producing rice to Great Britain, Southern Europe, and West Indies, indigo to Great Britain by farming, hunting, logging, metal working, cash crops, and depending on stale crops and enslaved labor. We learned about the Mercantilism Economic System. Their goal was to get rich as quickly as possible through colonial acquisition. It was an English authority. The disadvantages were England checks everything, colonists pay more, colonies have no say on colonial economy. The advantages were no tariffs, monopoly from trade, and goods were only sold to Britain.
I think that the Great Awakening had a larger impact on the American revolution than the Enlightenment. Based on this reading, the greatest effect of this revolution is against the authoritarian religious over the colonies. The colonies did not agree to being controlled, religiously. Therefore, they decided to rebel. Religion is one of the biggest motivations to start a revolution. The people in the colonies believed that they should be able to practice any religion that they wanted, not by someone forcing them to do so.