The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 242

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

crops of fatherless babies; but he notes that patrolling of the
grounds later made misconduct less common. He points out that
the emotional violence of the camp meeting was in keeping with
the harsh life of the frontier. He also pays high tribute to the
earnestness and perseverance of the circuit riders and other back-
woods revivalists.
The author explains the arrangements of the typical camp
meeting as to platform, seating, and tents. He describes a day's
program, with its spirited singing and eloquent exhortation. He
also includes brief sketches of some of the leading evangels of the
backwoods, such as Bishop Francis Asbury, Lorenzo Dow, Ben-
jamin Lakin, and Peter Cartwright. The frontier preacher, he
notes, had to be on the go most of the time, crossing swollen
streams on horseback and sleeping on hard cabin floors or even
in the woods.
A chapter on camp-meeting hymns shows that the frontier re-
vivals produced many religious songs, some of them with folk
roots. Lusty singing played a major role in the woods meetings,
and songs had to be made to order. A few of the camp songs have
crept into the formal church hymnals.
In a day when court sessions were far apart and county fairs
still were in the future, the camp meeting often was the chief social
gathering for a rural community. It was held at a convenient time,
after the small grains were harvested and before the corn was ready
for husking. It offered a change of scene and an opportunity to
visit and to catch up on news. Yet it had little appeal on the At-
lantic Coast, the author points out; and when it was tried in
England, it fell flat.
When population became less sparse and social life more com-
plex, the backwoods revival declined. Yet some of its impetus
burst out later in the city gospel tabernacle used by Billy Sunday
and others and, in a more secular way, in the Chautauqua camp.
To some degree, the author notes, "the mark of the frontier camp
meeting is upon us to this day." His well documented book adds
an absorbing chapter not only to church history but to that of
the frontier.


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956, periodical, 1956; Austin, Texas. ( accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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