New Jersey (Princeton) in 1746, and New York Anglicans founded King’s College (Columbia) in 1754. Baptists set up the College of Rhode Island (Brown) in 1764; two years later, the Dutch Reformed Church subsidized Queen’s College (Rutgers) in New Jersey. However, the main intellectual legacy of the Great Awakening was not education for the privileged few but a new sense of authority among the many. A European visitor to Philadelphia remarked in surprise, “The poorest day-laborer. . .holds it his right to advance his opinion, in religious as well as political matters, with as much freedom as the gentleman.”APUS/AMU - Property of Bedford St Martin's - 0-312-62422-0 / 0-312-62423-9 - Copyright 2009
114 tPART ONEThe Creation of American Society, 1450–1763Social and Religious Conflict in the SouthIn the southern colonies, where the Church of England was legally established, reli-gious enthusiasm triggered social conflict. Anglican ministers generally ignored the spiritual needs of African Americans (about 40 percent of the population), and land-less whites (another 20 percent) attended church irregularly. Middling white freehold-ers (35 percent of the residents) formed the core of most Church of England congre-gations. Prominent planters and their families (just 5 percent) held the real power, and they used their control of parish finances to discipline their ministers. One clergyman complained that dismissal awaited any minister who “had the courage to preach against any Vices taken into favor by the leading Men of his Parish.”Consequently, the Great Awakening challenged the dominance of both the Angli-can Church and the planter elite. In 1743, bricklayer Samuel Morris, inspired by read-ing George Whitefield’s sermons, led a group of Virginia Anglicans out of the church. Seeking a deeper religious experience, Morris invited New Light Presbyterian minis-ters to lead their prayer meetings. Soon Presbyterian revivals erupted among the Eng-lish residents in the Tidewater region, where they threatened the social authority of the Virginia gentry. Traditionally, planters and their well-dressed families arrived at Angli-can services in fancy carriages drawn by well-bred horses, and the men flaunted their power by marching in a body to their front-pew seats. Such ritual displays of the gen-try’s superiority would be meaningless if freeholders attended Presbyterian churches. Moreover, religious pluralism threatened the tax-supported status of the Anglican Church.To halt the spread of New Light ideas, Virginia’s governor William Gooch de-nounced them as “false teachings,” and Anglican justices of the peace closed down Presbyterian meetinghouses. This harassment kept most white yeomen and poor ten-ants families in the Church of England; so did the fact that many well-educated Pres-byterian ministers did not preach in the “enthusiastic” style preferred by illiterate farmers.