Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History Salem Witch Trials and the Great Awakening  CSPAN  November 18, 2018 12:00am-1:16am EST

12:00 am
keeping people from coming to the unit dates -- united states. entire lecture on cold war refugee policy. you are watching american history tv, only on c-span3. >> up next on lectures in a professor teaches a class on the great awakening in america. a period christian revitalization. it swept through the colonies and explains how the salem witch trials and the decline of your to lead to an era of traveling preachers, such as george whitfield and an emphasis on evangelism. the class is about 70 minutes. >> you are talking about the founding of the american colonies and we're getting into the 1700s today. i want to focus on religion in the light colonial period. i know this has been on your mind since you had a paper coming out about that. the lead up to the great awakening, some of the overview on what happens in the great awakening and hopefully, that will set you up for your paper.
12:01 am
take a look at the background to what is happening in 18th-century america in regards to religion. we talked about some of this already before in class about the scope of religion and religious commitment across the colonies. if you look at the southern
12:02 am
colonies from maryland down to georgia, most of what we had is a formal commitment to the church of england. the church of england is the national official church of england, of britain. most of those colonies adopt what we would call a formal establishment of the church of england, but the southern an colonies, overall, are probably the least religious of all the colonial regions, which if you think about that for a minute, you will see it as weird because we see it as the bible belt today, but in the colonial period, it is different. there is a formal establishment of the church of england, but once you get past the colonial cities, places like
12:03 am
williamsburg, charleston and savannah, the rates of churchgoing is pretty limited. part of the reason for that, you remember going back to the founding of james town. these are being founded for business purposes. it is difficult to set up churches in the backcountry were settlement is so scattered. people living in the rural south in the early 1700 might have been christians for sure. if they were literate, they probably read the bible. maybe they had family devotions, but many of them did not go to church because maybe the nearest church was 50 miles away. if that is the case, if you're going on a wagon, you're not going to church. people in the north, in the northern colonies recognized.
12:04 am
they would talk about their worry for the south and its relative godlessness. there just weren't that many people going to church there. there were not enough pastors. the south was really regarded as the least religious part of the colonies. the middle colonies, we are talking about new jersey comes pennsylvania and new york and delaware. it is a real mix of different kinds of christian denominations. they are often connected to a particular ethnicity. you have scottish presbyterians or scott irish presbyterians. dutch reformed people, this is the group that founded the new netherlands. lutheran.
12:05 am
there are quakers. there are different baptist groups. the middle colonies are representative of the kind of diversity that you see in modern america. a lot of different religious groups, lots of different ethnicities that sometimes do not get along with each other, competing for adherence. it is hard to tell the one, singular story of the south and slavery. the middle colonies is more like that. in new england, when you get into the early 1700s, when you're talking about to the -- about the 18th-century, new england sees the decline of puritanism. these colonies were founded as -- puritanalways
12:06 am
colonies. puritanism by the early 1700s is in decline. we are now 70, 80 years past the time of the founding. the puritan movement has started to fade away. historians debate about how much puritanism is declining. some of this might be talk. you know that pastors, lots of christians will talk about how the founders were much more committed than we were. it used to be so much better, but now we have fallen away. that is a very common move that you get in churches. you started to see that in the new england churches as well. the late 1600s and early 1700s. it breeds a type of sermon, a characteristic new england sermons that you get in this period that historians call the
12:07 am
jeremiah. if you know your bible well enough, you will hear a name, jeremiah. he was a gloomy kind of profit that said to israel, you have fallen away from god you need to straighten up or judgment is coming. that kind of sermon became very common in new england, starting in the 16 70's and 16 80's, early 1700s. the pastors would say you have fallen away from your first love. you have fallen away from that original mission and you need to turn around, turn back to god and renew your devotion to the lord. how reflective this is of actual reality -- have the people really turned away from god? it is hard to measure that.
12:08 am
it is hard to judge people's hearts. there is evidence that at least new england is becoming more diverse, not just exclusively. -- exclusively puritan. you may remember, in the 16 90's, england started requiring massachusetts to tolerate other kinds of protestants. not just puritans, but quakers and baptists. there are some intriguing pieces of evidence about access, immorality. it looks like boston gets its first brothel. the characteristics of colonial cities, london our sometime.
12:09 am
but puritan boston gets a brothel, prostitution, this is horrifying to a lot of people. occasionally, there are dancing classes being offered. the puritans were not keen on dancing, especially between unmarried couples. there are actually some pieces of evidence that you could look at and say, maybe this is becoming a non-diverse society. maybe there is something to that theme. probably the most horrific episode for pastors in new england in the late 1600s for sure is the salem witchcraft crisis. home -- we read a document about this. the salem witchcraft crisis is horrific for the leaders in new england first and foremost for
12:10 am
them because they see it as a great attack by satan on their society. the puritans believed they had a high calling from god, so they believe of course, so that is -- satan is going to break out against us. that is how they saw what happened what happened in 1692. that satan had raised up a cohort of which is to attack witches to attack their people and try to disrupt new england society. that is how the first and foremost interpreted what was going on in salem. dozens of people start getting accused of being witches. he remember the story, there was a group of mostly teenage girls who had probably gotten involved in some kind of white magic type of practice, trying to tell the future and so forth.
12:11 am
those girls started to have signs of what the puritans would consider daemonic attacks, daemonic oppression and having convulsions and being tormented. they would say that it was this woman, that woman who is coming, especially in the spirit realm to attack them actually and to physically harm them. ultimately, by the way, it is mostly younger women accusing older women of being witches. almost all the accused are women. almost all of the accusers are women as well. one interesting historical investigation, was this a was this a kind of what you would call a misogynistic
12:12 am
episode where there is a loathing of women, especially these older women who were difficult to deal with and had maybe gotten into altercations with their neighbors? that is an interesting thesis, but one problem with it is it is almost always women who are accusing. there are some men who get accused of being warlocks. it ends up being hundreds of people who get accused across the region, not just in salem, but you meet people get accused. -- some of elite people get accused. not coincidentally, that is when the judges and other officials start thinking about closing it down because they can see the accusations are going viral.
12:13 am
there are too many people. they start to doubt some aspects of the trial. everyone in salem, approaching 100% of everybody believes that witches exist. even the critics of the trial are saying, well, we know that witches exist, but there are problems that we have with the way that the trials are being run. we will talk about why in a minute. that is a really important aspect to understand. this is not the puritans, in their religious fervor believe in the existence of which is and then standing outside of that, you have these skeptics. no, everybody realizes or believed at the time that the supernatural is real and in
12:14 am
isolated cases, people can make a covenant with the devil in order to have malevolent spiritual power to cast spells on people and torment them in the spirit realm at least. let's take a look at this document. i will have you give me comments about this. on page 43 in your book, you see tituba who they call an indian woman. it is debatable exactly who she was, that she seems to be a household servants or slave of one of the pastors involved. when they say indian, it might mean native american, but it is more likely that she is probably from the caribbean.
12:15 am
remember when columbus came. he said that these were the indies. sometimes an indian meant somebody from the caribbean. we do not know a whole lot about her other than these testimonies. she is being interrogated. they start off on page 44 and the judge says to her, tituba , what spirit do you have familiarity with? she says men. none. why do you heard these children? >> i have not. so on and so forth. when you lead in like that in this trial, what does that tell you about the way that judicial proceedings went in the 1600s? what is that tell you?
12:16 am
>> it is very face value. there is no evidence to back it up. it is just straight up asking. >> it is very matter of fact. including about the spiritual dynamic. they are very willing to take testimony about what the devil is doing. what else does it tell you about judicial proceedings? >> based on this case, in the sense that you are proven guilty, they believe that she is guilty, but they do not necessarily have the evidence to back the claims, but they believe she is guilty, without a doubt. >> yes. there is no presumption of innocence, which is not unusual in the 1600s. the english legal system, there is no guarantee that you will be assumed to be innocent. the way they interrogate these
12:17 am
people is, if you have been accused, you are assumed to be guilty. what they are trying to do is to get her to admit that she is guilty. she initially says, i did not hurt them. but it is not long in the investigation that she admits that she is a witch. whether she is doing this because she wants to be let off -- it becomes clear that the people who will not admit they are witches are most likely to be executed. you are in a catch 22. it could be that in some of these cases, maybe in her case, some of these people may have been engaged in what they thought of as magical practices.
12:18 am
there might be a few of them that actually regarded themselves as witches. that makes it a real conundrum on how to run these things because if you have people who consider themselves to be witches, in a society where everybody believes in witches, that become a law enforcement matter. it is tough for us to know in our secular age, how to deal with these kinds of issues. if you look further, they say what is this appearance that you see? she says sometimes it is like a hog or like a great dog. what did this animal being say to you? she said the black dog serves me.
12:19 am
-- the said to serve me. but i said i was afraid and he said if i did not he would do worse to me. who is the black dog? who do you think the black dog is? >> is it supposed to be satan? >> i think so. maybe a demon, but probably the devil that has taken on this animal specter. when she is testifying -- lots of people testified along these lines, either animal spirit attacked me or talked to me. at the bottom of the page, she talks about a red rat and a black rat. do you see who hurts the children? yes, it is good wife good. she hurts them in her own shape, though she has come to them in the spirit.
12:20 am
she is tormenting them in the spirit realm. it can have physical consequences. what do you think is going on here when she testifies to have seen these things in the spirit realm? does she believe this? there is no wrong answer. this is speculation. >> i do not think she believes in what they believe in. i think she is manipulating them because she does not want to be a slave anymore. >> so more like telling them what she thinks they want to hear. and also, it is bad news if you are goodie good. are people there are trying to settle scores with third -- with. do you think most of these accusations are people who are thinking consciously, i am going to lie about the accusations?
12:21 am
there is no right answer on this. this is speculative. do you think there are people that are so deeply convinced that witchcraft -- this is a traditional christian belief in demons at least. demons are in the bible. remember their mentality in the 1600s. the medieval mentality. do you think there are people who really do believe in these kinds of things or is it a big sham? >> i think there probably are people who generally do you believe in it, but i think it is people who are being accused of it in that point in time -- they do not go into it thinking i am going to lie about it, but when they get put on the spot, they do not want to get in trouble for something that did not happen, so they end up pushing the blame onto somebody else.
12:22 am
>> i think we can verify that. there are cases where late in the trials, some people start recanting testimony. among the things that they say is i was put under so much pressure. some would say i started imagining things were happening to me, but now that i think about it, i am not sure. but some people definitely say they were put under so much psychological duress that they just went ahead and admitted to things that they knew were not really true. there are even a couple cases where we know that people were physically tortured, which they are not supposed to be doing that under english law. you are not supposed to extract confessions through torture. a couple people were. one of the things from torture is you say what you think people
12:23 am
want you to say. i think it is true. i think there probably are some people. it is hard to know what their mentality is, but they think something is happening to them spiritually like this. everybody involved pretty much believed that the devil was doing something in these trials. either making covenants with these which is or duping the people, deceiving the people making the accusations. how do you know the devil is not deceiving people into believing these attacks are real? it is tough to interpret this, but in the end, 19 people were executed for being witches. most of them were executed by hanging. one poor man was pressed to death with boulders until he suffocated.
12:24 am
there is an instance of torture were they were trying to get him to admit that he was a witch. he would not. a tragic situation. a few dogs were executed under suspicion of being witches familiars because a witch has an animal companion that goes along with the witch and does their bidding, so there were a few dogs that got executed. by the end, most people involved, even some of the judges realized that taking testimony about a person's spirit, their specter as they would call it, taking testimony about this person's specter coming to me and encouraging me to sign the devil's book -- the
12:25 am
judges said that is not enough to convict somebody of witchcraft. so we need to take a step back and shut things down. by that point, 19 people had died. by far, the biggest outbreak of witchcraft in the colonial american period appear before and after this. it was just one person being accused at a time. there were witchcraft episodes after this, but they were kind of on their way out by this point, partly because of the embarrassment of salem. salem is definitely feeding into a broader sense in the late 1600s and early 1700 of religious crisis in the colonies, especially in new
12:26 am
england. new england is the easiest story to tell about the coming of the great awakening because there is such a linear, colonial story about the puritan founding, the decline of puritanism, a sense of building religious crisis in the early 1700s and in the 1730's and 1740's, and outburst of the religious commitment is signaled in the great awakening. a lot of what i will talk about is in the background, tracing the story most specifically of colonial new england, which is the epicenter of the great awakening in america. so why do they had a sense of religious crisis? one reason that you see here is a rise in greed, immorality, we
12:27 am
talked about the signs that people were falling away from their puritan commitment. the pastors are talking all the time about how people are consumed with business affairs and forgetting about their love for god. they are worried that society is becoming dominated by greed and the kinds of immorality that they see coming along with that. another reason for the sense of religious crisis is the rise of what we call it enlightenment. a related trend, which is the rise of rational theology. the enlightenment is a term i'm sure you have come across before in other classes. it is a controversial term among historians. they are not necessarily so keen
12:28 am
about talking about the light -- the enlightenment as if it were one thing that works the same way everywhere. we know for sure there are different kinds of enlightenment, depending on whether you are in france, scotland or america. some parts of the enlightenment are anti-christian. in america, the enlightenment tends to be fairly friendly towards christianity, we will just have a more updated version of christianity. most of the advocates of the enlightenment say of course we are christian. christianity is the best religion of all ended accords with rationality and modern learning. they would not have seen a tension between those things. one of the ways that this plays out, there is a growing tendency to explain things naturally.
12:29 am
for sure, when you compare the mentality of americans from 1692, when the salem witch trials have been, something it is definitely changed. there are still people who believe in strong supernaturalism and things like witchcraft, but if you go from 1692 to 1700, to 1715 -- 1750, 1800, there is a tendency to see things in supernatural terms. say your cow dies unexpectedly. your cow was fine one day and the next day it is frothing at the mouth and dies. what do you think has happened? in 1692, you might think,
12:30 am
especially if you had a recent argument with a spooky neighbor , that a spell has been cast on your cow. this is just reflexive. that is the world that you live in. the world of wonders and magic. you might think it is a malevolent spiritual attack. in 1800, some people might still think that, but it is more likely that people will think they got a disease. these things happen. there is a medical reason for it. there might not be a good medical reason for it, but not in terms of spiritual powers but in the natural world. there is not really any explanation for it. it's not that god or witches are getting us, it's just my cow got
12:31 am
sick and died. that is an important change. the beginnings of the modern, secular world. even today, many devout and religious people, if something bad happens to them, they do not necessarily think it is a spiritual attack on them. some people might, but most people say well, what can you do, bad things happen. in theology, there is a related tendency to say we still study theology and want to understand god as best we can, but anything we believe publicly about god -- biblically about god must accord with rationality. you take something like the doctrine of predestination where god elects only certain people to be saved. leaving everybody else to their own devices, which means judgment and damnation.
12:32 am
the rational theologians say, to my mind, that does not make sense. i do not think god would act like that. i think god would give all the freedom to decide for themselves whether to believe or not. that accords with normal standards of rationality. i'm sure some of you might agree with that. you can see that what you have done is there is a little step towards a human centered type of theology. god must be understandable. he must be accessible and live up to our standards of rationality. that starts to the way that you interpret the bible. that sort of theology, rational theology has become dominant at harvard college by the early 1700s.
12:33 am
harvard has been founded as the first american college, founded almost exclusively for training. puritan pastors in the 30's. by the early 1700s, it had become captured by christian theology, but this rational, non-puritan type of theology. new englanders start a new college as a more conservative alternative that will go more towards puritan type of theology. that college was yale. guilt was the conservative bible 1700s son the early that we could have an alternative to harvard. almost all the colonial colleges were founded in the colonial period. they were founded as colleges for the training of pastors and almost nobody else went to college.
12:34 am
no women went to college and almost no men went to college in those days. if you did go to college, it was almost always to become a pastor. what they saw as a rise in immorality, more modern philosophy and ideology. a third reason for the sense of crisis was the ongoing war with catholic france and spain and their native american allies. starting in the 16 90's, the collies, especially new england, go through a couple generations of imperial war between britain and the british colonies, and then either france or spain. in new england, the main issue is fighting against the forces of france coming out of canada
12:35 am
or what they called new france. there is no natural boundary there. england and france are fighting in the same time, but the english channel separates england and france. for the colonists in new england, there is no natural barrier. the french had more native american allies in the british did. you would have the tax from the -- attacks from the french on frontier villages. native american raids on frontier villages. sometimes even when they weren't technically at war, you would have new england and new france fighting these low-level but wishes -- but vicious wars with one another. 1720, there is a war between new france and new england that is inspired by a french catholic missionary who is operating in maine, telling the indians to
12:36 am
stick up for their rights against the english, do not let them take your land. they have this war, and the new englanders commission a bouncy against this catholic priest, who is encouraging the native americans. they send out a war party against him. they shoot him and kill him and they scalp and. they scalp him and bring his scalp back to boston. traditionally, we talk about the native americans as barbaric, but who are barbaric? they are commissioning scalp bounties against a catholic missionary. it is a vicious time all the way around. you have these troubling intellectual changes, social changes, and war is such a contributing factor because of the fear of the judgment of god. if we don't stick close to god,
12:37 am
we may be overrun by the french or native americans. all of these things are feeding into the salem witchcraft trials, feeding into a sense of religious crisis through the colonies, but especially in new england. you get the great awakening. most people, the time that they live in is a time of crisis, but there is no doubt that the colonists felt that crisis in the 1730's. culturally, religiously, that set them up for a new religious awakening. awakening in the 1730's and 40's is kind of the main event, although cascading
12:38 am
effects of the revivals keep on going into the revolutionary period. it is hard to explain why the great awakening happened exactly. you could look at social and cultural factors, the history and the client puritans. i'm sure that some of you would look at spiritual factors, that still today, people would say that there are spiritual, divine reasons why god made this happen. in a history class, we don't spend much time on that kind of thing, but there is no question that, in the 1720's and 30's, you find evidence of pastors across the collies and in new england telling their people that they need to pray for revival, a term occasionally used in the bible and the songs, revive us again. and what they are talking about
12:39 am
is that they want for the people to be praying for an outpouring of the holy spirit, the third person of the trinity, to be poured out so that people will come back to god, so that lots of people will convert to christianity, even though basically all of these people are nominally christian. so that they will have a conversion experience, and maybe people who have fallen away from god will return to their commitments to god. the message had been, we need to straighten up and start living right, doing what we know god wants us to do. in the 1720's and 1730's, they tweak the message and say we are so far gone that what we need is divine rescue. it is not about morality anymore.
12:40 am
what we need is a revival created by god, through the holy spirit. we need that to change our society. i think we can reasonably expect that if pastors are calling on people to pray like this, some people were responding to the calls and training for revival. -- praying for revival. in the 1730's and 1740's, revival comes in a big way. what you think about that has something to do with your belief. -- everything to do with what is your belief about prayer and desperate to anything and that something. a lot of christians would say people pray and god response to -- responded to their prayers. it could also be that if you are more skeptical, the more they talk about revival, the more likely it will happen. i think those explanations work together. what is different about the
12:41 am
first great awakening? one is that it is an outbreak of great religious intensity and fervor, individual passion, life-changing events. another thing that is different is the role of the itinerant preachers. before this point, the standard model for a pastor, this is most of the time in church history, you have a pastor who pastors this congregation and does not do much traveling around and speaking. in the first great awakening, you start to see a critical role for traveling preachers who caused a sensation everywhere they go. they are brilliant preachers. george whitfield is number one.
12:42 am
they are brilliant preachers to travel around and become famous regionally, if not internationally of having a reputation of being this brilliant preacher. you cannot wait for them to get there. it is new and exciting. they have a laser focus on the message that you need to accept christ's free offer of salvation. jesus talks about the born-again experience. in order to see the kingdom of god, you must be born again. they are not inventing this experience out of nowhere, it is a long time biblical message come but people in the past have had different understandings of what born-again meant. people in the great awakening are clear. what you need as an adult or
12:43 am
teenager, you need to understand for yourself that you are a sinner, that your sin has caused a serious problem screen -- between you and god. and that you need to personally accept that offer of forgiveness in order to be in righteous standing with god. when you do that, that is your moment of being born again. everybody needs to have this experience. the minister or pastor might be talking about a lot of different topics week to week. the itineraries are really focus on you need to be born again. they travel. they help people in these
12:44 am
impassioned sermons that you need to be born again. -- they tell people in these impassioned sermons that you need to be born again. that is the center of their message. sometimes they do not talk about much else. the greatest mind, the greatest theologian of the great awakening is jonathan edwards, who we have a picture of the upper right-hand corner. edwards is best known for his sermon, sinners in the hands of an angry god, 1741. edwards is a minister in northampton massachusetts. he does a little bit of traveling but most the time he sits at his church. sinners in the hands of an angry god, he actually gives at a nearby village in connecticut
12:45 am
while he is traveling around in the summer of 1741. he is not the most famous preacher at the time, but edwards has come down to us as the greatest intellectual figure of the first great awakening. arguably, the greatest intellect of the colonial american period. we could do a whole class on jonathan edwards because he wrote a ton and is intellectually sophisticated and challenging, but he is best known for this one sermon. sinners in the hands of an angry god. it gets anthologized and people read it today. it is a good news and bad news kind of thing because it is a brilliant sermon and it is frightening, if you have read it.
12:46 am
i will read an excerpt here in the second. but we should not mistake edwards for some kind of screaming crazy guy that you would see on late-night tv, going about going to hell. he is a titanic intellect. the last job he had in his life was president of princeton college because he had that kind of intellectual reputation. when he preached, including sinners in the hands of an angry god, he had a manuscript in front of him that he had handwritten and he read the manuscript. he would try to give it feeling, but the power of his sermon is in the content. it is not in the rhetorical fireworks. when he gave sinners in the hands of an angry god is 1541, it got in intense reaction from the people there.
12:47 am
some of the people at the meeting started crying out for mercy and asking what can i do to be saved? they were terrified of the judgment of god. some of them were falling in the aisles and crying. when edwards saw what was happening, he closed up his sermon. he is not necessarily looking for this outlandish response, but he gets it because of the power of the rhetoric that he uses. even secular scholars know that edwards is intellectually brilliant and that his rhetoric is just stunning.
12:48 am
that is why people today still study sinners in the hands of an angry god because the rhetoric of it. if you have ever read it, you will never forget the image of a spider hanging over the fire. have you read it? i will read a couple paragraphs. he says your wickedness makes you as it were, heavy as lead. and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell. if god should let you go, he would immediately take and -- sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf. and then he says, the god who holds you over the pit of hell, much as one old a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire. abhors you. and is dreadfully provoked. his wrath towards you burned like fire.
12:49 am
he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else them -- than to be cast into the fire. he has here eyes than to bear you in his sight. you are 10,000 times as abominable as the most hateful and venomous serpent is in hours. you have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prints. and yet, it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire. you see the contrast between god's judgment and god's grace. both very intense. he says how dreadful is the state of those who are dearly -- daily and hourly at risk of this wrath. and infinite misery. case of everysmal soul in this congregation that has not been born-again.
12:50 am
we lay out the desperate case because of their sin and the rescue is available to you through being born again. that is the basic content of virtually every great awakening sermon. laser focus. you need to be born again. you can imagine it is frightening. the pit of hell, the insect over the fire, what if he let you go? you can imagine people falling out. they are sure about this as we are sure that the sun will come up. there is no doubt that this is truth to them. they want to make sure that they are right with god. edwards is the great defender of the great awakening, but he gets stereotyped because of his fire and brimstone sermon as a fire
12:51 am
and brimstone preacher. most of his sermons are not like this. he preaches a lot more about the love of god that he does about the judgment of god. i think is most representative sermon is called heaven is a world of love. you can find it on the internet. that is the core of edwards. if he is on the topic, he will also preach about the judgment of god. incredible intellect. i cannot tell you everything. edwards is writing about predestination, original sin, he is writing about enlightenment challenges to the christian faith. he is definitely one of the greatest theologians ever. if you care about this kind of thing, you definitely have to read edwards.
12:52 am
he matches enlightenment thought with traditional christianity, he says we know this from john locke. this is how this works with traditional christianity. he has read everything and is using it to show why even in an enlightened age, christianity is the most compelling theological system. it is brilliant. what he gets known for is this one sermon. not saying it is a bad sermon. but there is a lot more to edwards. edwards is not the most famous preacher of the time. he is more famous today. the most famous preacher at the time is george whitfield. i know the way it is spelled, it would look like whitefield, but i am told on good authority that it was pronounced whitfield.
12:53 am
he is by far the most famous preacher of the 1740's. it is even more than that. he is the most famous person in britain and america in his time. the only competitor that he has is king george. maybe more people know king george's name, but a lot more people have seen whitfield in person and read his stuff, his journals and sermon. we think that probably by the end of his career in 1970, about -- 1770, that probably like three quarters of everybody who lived in america had heard him preach. he is a bigger celebrity in his
12:54 am
time than anybody we have in our culture today. in our culture, we live in a celebrity driven culture, but we are dispersed. some people like justin bieber, some people do not like justin bieber. you know what i am saying. everybody knows whitfield. even if you are a critic, you have to deal with it. he is arguably the first modern celebrity. i did not say religious celebrity, i said first modern celebrity. when he shows up in a town, he draws crowds that are bigger than the population of the town it.
12:55 am
he gives a farewell sermon in boston in the early 1740's. 25,000 people show up when there are about 17,000 people living in boston at the time. effectively, the whole population of the town, plus people from the germans. -- hinterlands. when he preaches in london, they say 60-80,000 people are coming to hear him. this is free electricity, so he does not have what? a microphone. if you have ever read ben franklin's biographies, he and ben franklin were close business associates and friends. when whitfield first came to philadelphia, franklin did an experiment. he is walking around the edges of the crowd trying to figure
12:56 am
out how many people can hear him being at one time. -- speak at one time. franklin said i think maybe 25,000 to 30,000 people could hear him speaking at one time. that does he that whitfield, he had a background in theater as a teenager. he knew how to project his voice. he must have been enormously loud. a lot of the portrait that we have of him is when he is old and sick. i like portraits like this one, when he is a young man. relatively young and they thought he was good-looking. you can tell for yourself what you think about that. a young man, very dynamic. unlike edwards, whitfield's presentations were without a manuscript.
12:57 am
he would pretty much memorized his sermons and he had a repertoire of a selection of 10 or 15 sermons that he would rotate through. because all he did was itinerant. he did not have a congregation, so he could really polish a short list of sermons. he had to memorize. he was moving around the stage. he would act out. if he is talking about the story of the prodigal son, he would put himself almost in the character of the father, waiting for the prodigal son to come back. he would act it. i see the father waiting for the
12:58 am
lost son to come back. he would act it out, act out the part of the sun in the pigpen, eating the stuff they throughout, only fit for the pigs to eat. sometimes he would be weeping, the way that an actor would because he is so into the story. it was very powerful. if i could just have a youtube maybef anybody besides jesus, i would like to have a youtube clip of george whitfield. just to see what it was like. people were blown away when they would hear him speak. this might be my favorite painting of whitfield. it is because of the woman. i like that it is young whitfield, but it is the woman. she's like, i cannot believe i
12:59 am
am in the front row. she is smitten. we think this might be a portrait of his wife. he was married, but they were not together often because he was always on the road. she is smitten. this is the first british sensation. it is not trivializing it. this is like the beatles. that is the kind of effect that he had on people. obviously, a very different message. ,ut this is a revival for sure but is also a celebrity sensation that he create. crowd,sponses, huge reports that he is coming months in advance.
1:00 am
right,get there early, and they would tell people park your courses at the margins of the crowd so that more people could get it. it was a mosh pit being up front. pact to get close as you can get.
1:01 am
1:02 am
1:03 am
1:04 am
1:05 am
1:06 am
1:07 am
1:08 am
1:09 am
1:10 am
1:11 am
1:12 am
1:13 am
1:14 am
1:15 am

12 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on