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Drawing upon the religious writings of southern evangelicals, John Boles asserts that the extraordinary crowds and miraculous transformations that distinguished the South's First Great Awakening were not simply instances of emotional excess but the expression of widespread and complex attitudes toward God. Converted southerners were starkly individualistic, interested more in gaining personal salvation in a hopelessly evil world than in improving society. As Boles shows in this landmark study, the effect of the Revival was to throw over the region a conservative cast that remains dominant in contemporary southern thought and life.

John B. Boles is William P. Hobby Professor of History at Rice University. He is the author of numerous books including A Companion to the American South, The South through Time: A History of an American Region, Masters and Slaves in the House of the Lord, and Black Southerners, 1619-1869.

This study of the Great Revival is based on meticulous and critical research. Boles seeks to understand the theology of the preachers, their methods of arousing an audience to emotional frenzy, and the effects of the revival on the Southern mind. -- Clement Eaton, American Historical Review

An excellent survey of religion and its significance in the first eighty-five years of Kentucky’s history. -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

The heart of the book consists of ten beautifully written chapters on each phase and aspect of revivalism from theology and worship to denominational relations, hymnology, and political and economic thought. -- Robert M. Calhoun, West Virginia History

This book deserves attention for both its substance and its methodology. -- Samuel S. Hill, Jr.

Shows in the landmark study that the effect of the Revival has persisted in the religious individualism of contemporary conservative religious approaches to salvation. --

Publication Date



University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Revivals, Church history, Great Revival, Bible Belt


Practical Theology


Originally published as The Great Revival, 1787-1805: The Origins of the Southern Evangelical Mind.

The Great Revival: Beginnings of the Bible Belt
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