The Second Great Awakening and American Educational Reform: Insights from the Biography of John Milton Gregory

By Wakefield, John F. | Vitae Scholasticae, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

The Second Great Awakening and American Educational Reform: Insights from the Biography of John Milton Gregory


Wakefield, John F., Vitae Scholasticae


School attendance in America at the beginning of the 19th Century was undemocratic. Poor and working-class households could not afford the loss of a potential worker. Children would often work at home or be hired out. Children of slaves were not schooled at all. Further, the subjects taught in school were limited. Young boys and girls who attended the common school would learn reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic. In some towns, nine-or ten-year-old boys could attend a grammar school, where they learned English grammar, Latin, Greek, history, geography, and mathematics. Older girls as well as older boys might attend an academy, where they could learn whatever the teacher was prepared to teach, but early academies generally limited girls to coursework in composition, music, and art. A few young, privileged white men could attend college to prepare for a career in the ministry or law.

This picture would change dramatically by the end of the 19th Century, when education would become more practical and increasingly, if not yet equally, accessible to all. What caused the change in practicality and access? Scholars have found that following Thomas Jefferson, many supporters of public schools argued that democracy is best assured by an educated populace, (1) but another cause of the public school movement is frequently overlooked. A religious movement known as the Second Great Awakening surged through what is now the Eastern half of the United States in the first half of the 19th Century. The first Great Awakening one hundred years earlier focused on spiritual regeneration. It strengthened evangelical denominations such as Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians. The second wave had a social impact, generating popular support for temperance, the abolition of slavery, and other social reforms, including universal education. The relationship of the Second Great Awakening to the gradual realization of universal education in America can be explored through the life of John Milton Gregory (1822-1898). (2)

I

A disproportionate number of 19th Century educational reformers came from the Northeast, and Gregory was no exception. His family lived in Sand Lake, New York, about 10 miles east of Albany. The area was religiously "cooler" than the famously "burned-over" district to the west, but that did not mean religious beliefs were less common or less firmly held. In 1805, Protestants in Sand Lake erected a Union Meeting House (which stands today) and worshipped there. Among them was Joseph Gregory, the father of John Milton Gregory. Known locally as "Deacon Josie," Joseph was remembered as "a type of the Puritan, industrious, scrupulously honest, almost gloomily religious, his language being full of Biblical phrases." (3) His first wife, Ruth Babcock, died after the birth of their first child in 1811. His second wife, Rachel Bullock, bore nine children. Rachel's seventh child was born on July 6, 1822, and he was named after her favorite poet. Rachel Gregory died when John Milton Gregory was only four, but because he was literate from a very early age, she possibly taught him how to read.

In 1831, Joseph married a widow, Almira Foster, who had ten children of her own, and he set his large, blended family apart with a group of other believers to form the Second Baptist Church of Sand Lake. Although separate from other Protestant believers, they were not "anti-mission." In 1835, the "2d Sand Lake church and congregation" supported the American Baptist Home Mission Society by giving their minister a life membership. (4) It is doubtful, however, that the church would have supported united, evangelical efforts such as temperance societies, abolition societies, or interdenominational Sunday schools, all of which grew out of the Second Great Awakening.

Joseph Gregory was a subsistence farmer and a tanner who had a small shoe and harness factory. His son John attended a common school briefly when he was ten. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Second Great Awakening and American Educational Reform: Insights from the Biography of John Milton Gregory
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.