Great Awakening

Research by Kate McDannold

  1. The first primary document is a letter from George Whitefield addressing the colonies of Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. In it, he heavily criticizes the treatment of slaves, telling these colonies that God must have a quarrel with them due to their cruelty and mistreatment of African-Americans. It is an interesting document which shows that although the Great Awakening was well received throughout New England, the South was not as receptive. George Whitefield generally wasn’t welcomed in southern colonies although he found immense fame and admiration almost everywhere else. His disgust with the treatment of slaves shows how even before the Revolutionary War, slavery was a hugely divisive topic, especially when those same slave owners demand liberty and equality that they refused to give to others. Although the Great Awakening united religious groups across the northern colonies, they didn’t always agree with southern staunch Anglicans and slave owners.

George Whitefield to Colonies copy

To view the full document, click here

2. George Whitefield’s journal of his visit to North Carolina

This section of George Whitefield’s journal details his time traveling in North Carolina, including his visits to Eden-town, Bell’s Ferry, and Bath-town. Whitfield was a prominent figure in the Great Awakening, so his passage through North Carolina, however brief, is significant.

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To view the complete document, click here.

 3. “Three Letters from the Rev. Mr. G. Whitefield”

In these letters, Whitefield condemns southerners for their treatment of slaves and implores them to act like slaves are more than just “beasts of burden.” Southern slave owners felt very uncomfortable about ministers and preachers giving sermons directly to slaves and spreading around ideas of equality, which made otherwise hugely popular preachers like Whitefield quite despised in the South.

To view the complete document, click here.

4. Diary entries about George Whitefield from throughout the colonies.

These are letters from a few different regions in which the authors witnessed George Whitefield’s travels in the colonies. Two are from South Carolina, and one is a rather amusing one from Massachusetts talking about how the author’s friend thinks Whitefield is proof that demons exist in the world. They represent interesting personal snippets about different opinions on Whitefield.

Click on the following to read the journal entries of Esther Edwards Burr, Ann Ashby Manigault, and Hannah Callender.