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1828 Letter Describes Presbyterian Revival

Rhoda Anderson's 1828 letter

Rhoda Anderson’s 1828 letter

In the summer of 1828, Presbyterian pastor Nathan H. Hall spearheaded a memorable religious revival in and around Lexington, Kentucky.  The protracted meeting lasted four days and brought several hundred new members to the church.  In the summer’s other news, Thomas Metcalfe, recently resigned from the U.S. Congress, won a narrow victory in the state gubernatorial election.  On August 9, 52-year-old Rhoda Anderson sat down to write of these events to her nephew, Joseph O. Boggs.  Her letter has recently been added to the collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library.

Mrs. Anderson had been a close observer of the revival.  She described the public response to Hall’s sermons, quoting an elderly convert’s cry of “Sir I can’t resist any longer I must surrender.”  She told her nephew that “you might have heard a pin drop” when an assembled congregation of some 600 bowed their heads to pray.  Nevertheless, she was somewhat disappointed in the aftermath.  “I lament a coldness already,” she mourned, when church attendance dropped off after the revival.  As for the election, Mrs. Anderson proudly reported “very little noise or fighting,” although she might have revised this remark had she known that Metcalfe’s predecessor, Joseph Desha, briefly considered making a stand inside the governor’s mansion rather than vacate in favor of a candidate of whom he strongly disapproved.

To download a finding aid and typescript of Rhoda Anderson’s letter, click here.


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