Awakening Generation

Last Updated: Oct. 28, 2008

The Awakening Generation (Prophet, born 1701–1723) arrived as the first colonial generation to consist mostly of the offspring of native-born parents—and the first to grow up taking peace and prosperity for granted. Coming of age, they attacked their elders’ moral complacency in a spiritual firestorm. By the 1750s, after breaking the social order of their parents and rendering the colonies ungovernable, they pushed the colonies toward pessimism—yet also toward civic renewal. They became eighteenth-century America’s most eminent generation of educators, philosophers, clergymen, and abolitionists. In old age, they provided the Revolution with its dire sense of moral urgency, dominating colonial pulpits and governorships until independence was declared. (AMERICAN: Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Sam Adams, Eliza Pinckney, John Woolman, Crispus Attucks; FOREIGN: Jean Jacques Rousseau, Queen Maria Theresa)

In This Section