John Russell, 1770: George Whitefield. Whitefield’s powerful, emotional preaching sparked the Great Awakening in 1740, as the Christian religion and the preachers who exhorted them took America by storm. He preached to tens of thousands at a time, a celebrity preacher who once rode from New York to Charleston on horseback, almost 800 miles, with advance men posting handbills announcing his imminent arrival. He owned a plantation in Georgia and was a Scripture-quoting advocate of slavery; and he’s the co-author with Charles Wesley of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”

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