The Sheldon Museum presents “Sinners, Prophets, and Seers: Moral Reform and the Second Great Awakening,” a talk by Professor Bill Hart, Middlebury College.  Free with Museum admission.

No longer governed by a king, the new republic of the United States required its citizens to be virtuous and selfless. However, by the first decade of the 19th century, many Americans experienced personal stress and cultural disorientation.  Westward expansionism, the rise of individualism, northern emancipation, and technological change led many Americans to question their institutions, beliefs, and values.  Many sought to change their personal behaviors and social practices, which gave rise to a series of reform movements. The goal was to perfect the individual, American society, and ultimately the world.

Bill Hart is a professor of American History at Middlebury College.  His area of specialization is race, religion, and identity in early America, on which he has published a number of essays.  He is the author of the forthcoming book, For the God of Their Souls: Performing Christianity in 18th-Century Mohawk Country (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020).  Bill is currently writing a cultural biography of Martin Freeman, the 1849 graduate of Middlebury College, who late in life became president of Liberia College.

The talk is part of the programming offered by the Sheldon Museum in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibit Conjuring the Dead: Spirit Art in the Age of Radical Reform.