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Burned-over district

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The Burned-Over District was a name given by evangelist Charles G. Finney[?] to an area in western New York State in the United States of America. He called it so because the area was a hotbed of religious revivalism, especially after attracting settlers in the period between the construction of the Erie Canal and the rise of the railroads.

The area still had a frontier quality during the early canal boom, making professional and established clergy scarce, lending the piety of the area many of the self-taught qualities that proved susceptible to folk religion. As such the area spawned a number of innovative religious movements, all founded by lay people, during the early 19th century. These include:

  • The Shakers were also highly active in the area, and had several of their communal farms there.

  • Finney himself preached at many revivals in the area, and was an early precursor of Pentecostalism in his preaching style that emphasized being filled with the Holy Ghost over formal theology.

In addition to religious activity, the Burned-Over District was famous for social radicalism. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the early feminist, came from Seneca Falls, New York[?], and conducted the Seneca Falls Convention devoted to women's suffrage there there.

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