Tirzah Ashmore

Rebecca French

Bethany Shuler

Professor Westblade

Rel 319-01

26 September 2013


The 1720s: The Era of Despair, Civil Upheaval, and Religion

Jonathan Edwards

In general, New Englanders in the 1720s tended to interpret current events as part of the Apocalypse. They believed they were witnessing Christ's struggle with the Antichrist, (or Protestant-Christ against Catholic Anti-Christ) and that they were living in the last days. Jonathan Edwards viewed himself as participating in this struggle as an intellectual, logical weapon for Christ.


      During 1720-1722, Edwards was in the process of receiving his M.A. from the University of Yale.

      In 1722, Edwards began his Resolutions, a set of goals to discipline and improve himself. Edwards believed that through keeping score of how well he did, he could visibly see the evidence of Gods grace in his day-to-day activities.


      By 1723, Edwards had met thirteen year old Sarah Pierpont and proceeded to write a perhaps spiritually-idealized poem about her. Edwards also gave the Commencement Address at Yale in the fall of 1723, in which he spoke of the controversial Arminians.


      Throughout 1724, Edwards served as a tutor at the University of Yale. Students lacked discipline or respect, and Edwards had to work long hours starting at 6 AM. Also in this year Edwards underwent a major spiritual crisis which he didn't entirely shake free of until 1727. In his diary entries, he never pinpointed the cause of this spiritual crisis.


      In 1726 at the University of Yale, Edwards continued to suffer from "spiritual emptiness. Though he was certain that he was "called" to some high work of God, he struggled with how to go about doing that. The answer came when he received the offer of assisting his grandfather (Stoddard) at the Northampton Church in Massachusetts.


      Finally, in 1727, Edwards married the love of his life, Sarah Pierpont.


Glorious Revolution: 1688-1689

      Countries/nations involved: England, Scotland, Welsh Cause: The replacement of the King/throne of England. Troubled by the King's Catholicism, the people
decided to overthrow James II and instead, institute William and Mary as monarchs of England. The throne was offered to both monarchs by the Parliament of England

Three-Year's War: 1722-1725

      Countries/nations involved: The Three-Year's War included a series of battles between New England and France's Allies (the Wabanaki Confederacy - from Nova Scotia)
Cause: The cause of the war began because of how much the settlements in New England were expanding along the Coast of Maine

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Rebecca French

Civil Unrest The 1720s are a decade of great civil unrest and change; this period of instability helped people turn to religion which helped cause the Great Awakening. A previous dispute between the Holy Roman Empire and Spain caused Charles VI to relinquish

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Civil Unrest

The 1720s are a decade of great civil unrest and change; this period of instability helped turn people to religion, preparing the way for the Great Awakening.

      A previous dispute between the Holy Roman Empire and Spain causes Charles VI to relinquish his claim of Spain.

      The 30 Years War causes great debt in Europe resulting in France declaring bankruptcy in 1720.

      The Three Years War begins in 1722 along the Maine and Massachusetts borders. The colonists also referred to this war as the Father Rales War because of the French Jesuit missionary who is said to have encouraged the Indians of Maine to attack Frances New England enemies.

      The Dutch discovers Easter Island in 1722.

      The Yellow Fever is introduced to Europe for the first time in 1723

      In 1725, civil unrest breaks out in Scotland when the government increases the Merit Tax.

      The last witch execution in Scotland occurs in 1727. Janet Horne was accused of being a witch because her daughter's hands were deformed. She had supposedly turned her daughter into a pony and had Satan "shoe" her. As this is the last witch execution, which suggests that witch hunts are fading away, this reflects the trend in Edwards' community, that it was almost an embarrassment to remember witch hunts from the past.

      In 1729, Natchez Indians in Mississippi revolted against the French when the French planned to relocate the Indians. The Indians killed 200 settlers and captured 300 slaves and 50 colonists. In prompt retaliation, the French killed approximately 100 Indians and sent many of them to the Caribbean as slaves.




The 1720s set the stage for the Great Awakening in North America. Prominent religions leaders of the Awakening are beginning their work for the Kingdom, including George Whitefield (Anglican), Gilbert Tennant (Presbyterian), and Jonathan Edwards (Puritan).


      In 1720 the leaders of Japan, the Shogun, relinquished their previous ban of all western literature, opening Japan to Christian texts.

      Tsar Peter I (The Great) reformed the Russian Orthodox Church, abolishing the Moscow Patriarchate and establishing the church under the synod. This structure lasted from 1720 to 1943.

      In 1721 the death of the pope, Clement the XI, drew peoples attention back to their religion. Clement XI was replaced by Innocent XIV, who passes away in 1723 and is replaced by Pope Benedict XIII.

      In 1723 the German Anabaptists came to Pennsylvania to avoid religion persecution in Europe, becoming what is known as the Dunker Church. They were distinct from other denomination because during their Baptisms they dunked three times instead of a single dunk, sprinkling, or pouring. There are now seven denominations that trace themselves back to the Dunkers, the largest being the Brethren. The church by the Antietam played an important role in the Civil War.

      The Quakers demanded the abolition of slavery in 1723.

      In 1725 John Philip Boehm began the American Reformed Church in Falkner Swamp, Pennsylvania.

      Also in 1725 the first black Baptist Church in North America began in Williamsburg.

      In 1729 John Wesley and other Oxford students began a group to study and worship together, a gathering that later became the Methodist church.



Following the despair of the wars, the Great Awakening opened up a new excitement in people, resulting in cultural advancements that we still respect today.

      Composers such as Goerge Handel, Johannes Sebastian Bach, and Antonio Vivaldi are composing and publishing some of their most famous pieces.

      Cotton Mather creates small pox vaccinations for the first time in North America in 1721, while an important medical advancement, these vaccinations tragically killed Jonathan Edwards in 1758.

      The Dutch discover the Easter Islands in 1722.

      Benjamin Franklin writes the Silence Dogood letters in 1722 and begins the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1729.

      Future author of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, is born in 1723.

      Jonathan Swift writes Gullivers Travels in 1720s offering a satirical view of the world during the 1720s in terms of political, social, and religion life.

      Isaac Newton, a highly-influential scientist, died in 1727 while scientists were still making major discoveries. James Bradley, an English astronomer, calculated the speed of light from his observations. He stated that light took 8 minutes and 12 seconds to travel from sun to earth. He was seven seconds off. Edwards may have heard of Bradley, especially because of his fascination with light and Edwards' tendency to use it in spiritual analogies.

      Excessive drinking was prevalent in this time. In 1728, over 2 million gallons of rum are imported to the colonies. Perhaps Edwards was not "overreacting" to the misbehavior of the youth.

      Baltimore, Maryland is founded in this year, about 400 miles south of Northampton, Massachusetts.


























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