18th Century

The 18th Century was a time of building. Various denominations founded many of America's finest Universities during this Century — Princeton by the Presbyterians, Dartmouth by a Congregational minister, Brown by the Baptists, Rutgers by the Dutch Reformed Church. It was also a time when many of today's mainstream Protestant denominations started from small roots. America's newly-won freedom made it a fertile field for preachers and evangelists of all persuasions.


Jonathan Edwards, great American preacher and theologian, is born in Connecticut.  He was a brilliant man, entering Yale College at just under the age of 13. He is best known for his most famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", which he preached in 1741. This sermon has been widely reprinted as an example of the fire-and-brimstone preaching that was common in early colonial revivals.    [Read more ...]

John Wesley, founder of Methodism, is born in Epworth, England.  He became an Anglican cleric and Christian theologian who, with his brother Charles Wesley and fellow cleric George Whitefield, is credited with the foundation of the evangelical movement known as Methodism.    [Read more ...]


Francis Makemie founds the Presbyterian Church in America.  This Irish clergyman was sent as a missionary to America in 1683, where he established the first Presbyterian community in America at the town of Snow Hill, Maryland. He went on to found several churches. In his later life, Makemie was arrested for preaching without a license but later acquitted of the charges. This event was considered to be one of the first landmark cases in favor of religious freedom in America.    [Read more ...]


George Whitefield, probably the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century, is born in England.  This Anglican preacher travelled to America in 1740 where he led a series of open-air revivals that came to be known as the "Great Awakening". Whitefield traveled between England and America 13 times, and was able to reach about 80% of the colonists with the gospel. Even Benjamin Franklin attended one of his revival meetings in Philadelphia; they became great friends.    [Read more ...]


Presbyterians found Princeton University in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Its original purpose was to train Presbyterian ministers. Today although the University maintains close ties with the Presbyterian Church, officially it is not affiliated with any religious denomination.    [Read more ...]


Eleazar Wheelock, a Puritan minister, founds Dartmouth College.  Originally established in Hanover, New Hampshire as a school to train Native Americans as missionaries, today it is a private Ivy League research university.    [Read more ...]


William Wilberforce is born in Hull in England.  Wilberforce was an evangelical Christian who was also a member of the English Parliament. He became interested in social reform and was very influential in the abolition of slave trade and eventually slavery itself in the entire British empire.    [Read more ...]


The Quebec Act is passed by British Parliament.  This Act established Catholicism as the religion for French-speakers in Canada. It also allowed The Catholic Church to levy tithes and offerings as needed. Although this Act only applied to Canadian citizens, many American colonists were afraid Great Britain might impose something similar on them.    [Read more ...]


Religious freedom in the United States is guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution. 


African Methodist Episcopal Church is founded by Richard Allen, a freedman who had been the first black Methodist to be ordained as a deacon. Originally called the "Free African Society", it became the first independent black denomination in the United States.    [Read more ...]


Pope Pius VI taken prisoner by Napoleon I.  When the armies of Napoleon captured Rome, they demanded that the Pope renounce his temporal authority. When he refused to do it, he was arrested and shortly thereafter died in captivity.    [Read more ...]