Morgan publishes new book

Published 12:17 pm Friday, December 5, 2008

Had I seen the book, “America’s Revival Tradition and the Evangelists Who Made It,” on the library shelf and not known the author, I probably would not have chosen it.

The subject is not one I would ordinarily have found interesting. I do know, however, that the author, David Morgan, is an excellent writer; so I decided to give it a try. I was so glad I did.

It’s true, as Morgan states in the foreword of the book, it is written in an easy to read style for the general reader.

“This book is designed to inform the curious and concerned about a particular aspect of America’s religious history – namely, the phenomenon known as revivalism,” Morgan wrote. He portrays the 11 well-known and successful evangelists with in-depth understanding, and in a non-judgmental and often humorous manner.

The featured evangelists are Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, James McGready, Barton W. Stone, Peter Cartwright, Charles G. Finney, as well as Dwight L. Moody, Sam Jones, Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson and Billy Graham. All of them were dynamic preachers with individual personalities, charm and charisma.

Most were fundamentalists, and all were conservative. Their stories are enthralling.

Edwards was a brilliant scholar. Moody was not well-educated, but a great revival organizer. Sam Jones proclaimed works, not words, the test of salvation. His words were “God projected this world on the root-hog-or-die principle. If hog or man won’t root, let him die.”

Sunday, a White Stockings baseball player in his youth, often remarked that men were not able to keep their minds on prayer when women entered the church wearing skirts more than six inches above their shoe tops. Graham was very much a fundamentalist in his early ministry, but over time became somewhat liberal; preached to millions throughout the world and won many thousands to Christ.

“Those of us who have long been interested in the history of American religion, especially the various ‘awakenings’ prompted by powerful evangelists, will find David’s book a fascinating read,” commented University of Montevallo professor emeritus John Lott. “Some of these preachers helped to define popular religion in the South for many years.”

Morgan has lived in Montevallo for the past 35 years. He is a UM professor of history emeritus and a prolific writer. He has authored 11 books, and numerous articles for professional journals. Two of his books are of fiction. He can be reached at

Catherine Legg can be reached at