Great Awakening, intense and widespread religious revival in 18th-century North America, forming part of the international evangelical revival. Starting in New Jersey (1726), the movement quickly spread across New England. In reaction to the prevailing rationalism and formalism, its leaders—notably Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield—preached evangelical Calvinism and discouraged excessive emotionalism. The 1740s saw the zenith of the Awakening, which led to the rapid growth of the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches, continuing to the end of the century. A similar revival beginning in the 1790s is known as the Second Great Awakening.
See also: Revivalism.