The Appalachian Awakening
America, Emerson observed, begins west of the Alleghenies. So does my story of the second Great Awakening.1 On the cutting edge of the frontier, life was raw and traditions were few. Anyone who preached the gospel here had to be rough and ready, appealing to the half-men half-alligators who created a new American folklore. Men who engaged in bare-knuckle fighting and eye-gougings during the week could hardly be expected to sit quietly to hear an intellectual exegesis on Sunday. New settings and sermons were required. Only the fittest people, or denominations, could survive. Out of this Darwinian drama came the first indigenous American religion-and the second Great Awakening.