Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Abstract

William Miller was a typical preacher of the Second Great Awakening who was involved with reforms and revivals. His millennial views, which have traditionally led historians to classify him as a fringe preacher of the nineteenth century, were in actuality commonplace thinking during the Second Great Awakening. When his millennial views and methods of revival are compared to Charles Finney's, what emerges is not an oddball preacher but a widely accepted balanced millennial view that hearers of his message gravitated to and accepted. By comparing Charles Finney's millennial views and the impact of revival and reform in Rochester, New York with William Miller's millennial views and his revival and reform in Portland, Maine similarities between these two millennialist preachers of the Second Great Awakening will become apparent. Historians have often relegated William Miller to the fringe elements of society, but he and his associates were actively involved in reforms such as abolitionism and temperance, as shown by the writings of William Lloyd Garrison and Henry Jones, an early Millerite preacher. Through the use of church records and diary entries by a retired Presbyterian minister, Caleb Bradley, in Portland, Maine from 1 840, a clearer picture of the complex nature of revival and reform will emerge to correctly place William Miller in history during the Second Great A wakening for the first time.

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