• The Reform of Religion

    The early 1800s were a time of optimism and hope. People believed that they could create a better society, based on Christian morals and culture. During this time, America saw a “revival” of religious interest and fervor. Protestant preachers held camp meetings where they preached to large groups of people. Disagreements sometimes arose between preachers about which doctrines were correct. Many new religions formed during this time.


    Fun Facts

    • The most successful and long-standing of these new churches was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, started by Joseph Smith in rural New York. Members of this religion are sometimes called Mormons.
    • Although the U.S. Constitution promises religious freedom to all people, the Mormons were persecuted almost from the beginning.
    • Joseph Smith, was beaten by mobs more than once. An angry mob covered him with hot tar and feathers, a painful and humiliating ordeal.
    • Mobs eventually shot and killed Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum. Lilburn W. Boggs, governor of Missouri, issued an extermination order against the Mormons in 1838. This extermination order called for Mormons to be killed or driven from Missouri.
    • The Mormons eventually made their way to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, where they settled in peace. Between 1846 and 1868, over 70,000 Mormons crossed the plains to Utah, a distance of over 1,000 miles. Most of them traveled by covered wagon or pulled a handcart and walked across the plains, a journey that took between 75 and 95 days on average.


    1. Doctrine: a stated set of beliefs
    2. Mob: an angry group of people
    3. Exterminate: to kill, destroy

    Questions and Answers

    Question: How did this religious reformation, sometimes called the Second Great Awakening, affect religion in America?

    Answer: Before the Revolutionary War, most people were Quakers, Anglicans, or Congregationalists (descended from the Puritans). During the religious reformation, preachers gave lively, passionate speeches. As many as 20,000 people would gather at “camps” to listen. The Baptist and Methodist religions became very popular.

    Visit LDS.org to read a story about a young pioneer girl.



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