Transcendental Awakening

Last Updated: Mar. 12, 2008

The Transcendental Awakening (Second Turning, 1822-1844) began with Charles Finney’s evangelicalism and Denmark Vesey’s slave revolt.  Soon merging with Jacksonian populism, it peaked (in 1831) with Nat Turner’s Rebellion, the founding of shrill abolitionist societies, and the rise of splinter political parties.  After spawning a floodtide of “romantic idealism”—including feminism, new prophetic religions, food fads, and utopian communes—the mood gentrified in the early 1840s into a credo of self-help, moral uplift, and manifest destiny.

  • Republicans entering elderhood
  • Compromisers entering midlife
  • Transcendentals entering young adulthood
  • Gilded entering childhood

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