9a – The Age Of Colonialism: 1800-1900 AD

Notes Outline


    1. Modern Colonialism
      1. Though the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries saw the first era of European decolonization in the Americas, the 19th century would ultimately see the greatest escalation in the European quest for world economic and political domination, which would set the framework for 20th century globalization.
      2. The Napoleonic Wars (1803-15) resulted directly in the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and the unraveling of the Spanish Empire (since French occupation weakened Spain’s hold over its colonies, providing an opening for nationalist revolutions in Latin America).  With the desolation of Central and Western Europe, the British Empire thus became the foremost world power for the next century.
      3. In context to the Industrial Revolution, European countries sought to fulfill their insatiable appetite for more resources to process in their factories through political colonialism, which culminated in the “Scramble for Africa” (c.1880-1900) encompassing over 95% of the world by the turn of the 20th century.  Like the Age of Exploration preceding it, the Europeans came to trade and stayed to rule, gaining control through economic and technological advantages.
    2. Industrial Revolution
      1. 19th century Colonialism was primarily driven by the “industrial revolution,” which began in Britain in the late 1700s in the textile industries with the introduction of steam power (fuelled primarily by coal), and then spread throughout Continental Europe and North America.  Raw materials from the New World were shipped to industrializing nations, processed in the factories, and sold for a profit.
      2. The Industrial Revolution thus birthed the modern capitalist movement, since the GDP per capita was broadly stable before the Industrial Revolution.  The major players in the new industrial capitalist world were Britain, who almost solely pioneered industrialization in the early 1800s (which laid the foundation for the world empire they would build later in the century), Germany, who efficiently incorporated Britain’s technological innovations, and the United States, who rapidly overtook the rest of the world by WWI.
      3. The Industrial Revolution went through two major phases, the first characterized by steam and textiles (c.1750-1850) and the second by petroleum and steel (c.1850-1900).  These inventions had a radical effect on the mass consciousness and lifestyle of North Atlantic society, which in turn reinforced its burgeoning evolutionary worldview.
    3. Rationalistic Utopianism
      1. As the philosophical Enlightenment of the 18th century transitioned into the seemingly limitless technological innovation and progress of the 19th century, Europeans began envisioning idealistic societies unhindered by the plagues of religion and tyranny.
        1. The stage for 19th century utopianism was largely set by G.F.W. Hegel (1770-1831) in Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), which viewed human history (and the cosmos as a whole, i.e. “God”) as a “spirit” progressing through various stages based on a thesis, which was then countered by an anti-thesis, thus producing a synthesis (which in turn became a new thesis, et cetera, et cetera).
        2. Hegelian philosophy (i.e. worldview) spread throughout Europe and America, influencing many disciplines, and setting the framework for various progressivist socio-political theories.  As Newton had developed a metaphysical framework of Nature within which various Enlightenment disciplines developed, so Hegel gave deified Nature the character of progressivism that would provide the framework for various secular utopian theories.
      2. Within the framework of cosmic progressivism, Charles Lyell (1797-1875) proposed a geological progressivism in Principles of Geology (1830), while Charles Darwin (1809-82) developed a biological theory of progressivism in Origin of Species (1859).  These theories, and others in congruence, substantially informed the naturalistic worldview, providing cosmogenical (perpetual unfitness), eschatological (perpetual fitness) and soteriological (progress through “natural selection) underpinnings.
      3. However, the sociological applications and conclusions of this naturalistic worldview were varied and often conflicting.  
        1. Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-1790), considered the father of capitalism, advocated a laissez-faire (Fr. “let things alone”) society in The Wealth of Nations (1776), wherein the people functioned/traded independently from governmental oversight (icf. divine-right monarchies).  
        2. Karl Marx (1818-1883) on the other hand argued for heavy governmental oversight to protect the people from abuse (cf. divine-right monarchies).  Thus, both sociological systems believed their ideas concerning individual ownership to be the logical outworking of the cosmic progressivism of Nature.
      4. As non-Europeans were increasingly viewed as “savage races,” having fallen behind in the progress of humanity, the idea of “the white man’s burden” began to take root, influencing political and economic policies in relation to colonialism.  Particularly in relation to Christianity, it became the responsibility of the more evolved Europeans to civilize the savages through education, medicine, technology, etc.


    1. Second Great Awakening (c.1800-1850)
      1. Cane Ridge Revival (1801)
        1. At the turn of the 19th century, “the West” was considered to be anything west of the Appalachian Mountains.  The rugged territory was thus inhabited by a wide variety of people, from farmers to entrepreneurs to fugitives.  In this context, the semi-ecumenical “camp meeting” proliferated in the early 19th century (e.g. ~400 in 1811) and was the backbone of the Second Great Awakening.
        2. Presbyterian ministers, including Barton Stone and James McGready, organized a camp meeting outside of Lexington, KY on Cane Ridge in 1801.  The 6-day meeting continued on for over three weeks and drew a crowd of near 25,000 people, igniting revivalist camp meetings throughout the frontier.
      2. Yale Revival (1802)
        1. After the American Revolution, deism became prevalent throughout New England, and the Church began to significantly decline in numbers and fervor.  Timothy Dwight, grandson of Jonathan Edwards, became president of Yale in 1795, and in 1802 renewal exploded with one third of the student body professing conversion and one third of the senior class entering full-time ministry.
        2. This renewal spread to colleges throughout New England, and in 1806 Samuel Mills and four other students gathered in a field on the outskirts of their Williams College campus for their weekly prayer meeting.  Caught in a thunderstorm, the five found shelter under a large haystack where they committed themselves to the service of God in missions.  This landmark “Haystack Prayer Meeting” gave birth to the Church’s first student mission society, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1810), and ultimately initiated the missions movement in America.
      3. Charles G. Finney (1792-1875)
        1. Integral to the development of the Second Great Awakening was the ministry of Charles Finney, a young lawyer from the “burned-over district” of western New York.  Converted at the age of 29, Finney immediately began an itinerant ministry in small towns throughout western New York, which lasted for more than 10 years.
        2. Known as the “father of the altar call,” Finney is credited with a revolution in the approach to evangelism and ministry with his “new measures” and protracted meetings (i.e. urbanized camp meetings).  Finney led a string of revivals, culminating in the Rochester Revival in 1830 wherein over 100,000 converts were recorded in only a few months. 
        3. As Finney’s revivals often consumed entire towns, every aspect of society would be transformed, and Finney was ruthless in his confrontation of every kind of social evil.  Thus, many historians trace the roots of abolitionism and the social reform movement of the 1800s to Finney’s revival meetings.
    2. The Holiness Movement
      1. Known as the “mother of the holiness movement,” Phoebe Palmer (1807-74) was raised the child of zealous Methodist parents in New York City.  Palmer began leading Methodist class meetings in her home every Tuesday in 1835 with her sister, Sarah Lankford, which later became known as the Tuesday Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness.
        1. Soon Palmer began itinerant ministry, holding Finney-style protracted meetings.  Moreover, she began writing extensively, which ultimately became her legacy.  In 1850, Palmer co-founded the Five Points Mission in the slums of New York—America’s first inner-city mission.
        2. Palmer’s ministry climaxed in the mid-1850s, heavily influencing the New York Prayer Meeting Revival (1857-58), and her writings and ministry in England also deeply impacted William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army (c.1865).  More than any other, Palmer quickened the larger Holiness Movement of the latter 19th century, which set the stage for Pentecostalism at the turn of the century.
      2. After the American Civil War (1861-65) the Methodist Church experienced widespread revival, emphasizing holiness, which spawned the creation of the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness in 1867.  Centered in the Methodist Church, the Holiness Movement quickly spread and found a following world wide.
      3. In 1894, the Methodist Episcopal Church adopted a statement which opposed the growing Holiness Movement in the church, and within a decade more than 20 new Holiness groups came into existence.