In the early 19th century, the United States began a dramatic economic transformation that would eventually touch the lives of nearly every American.
Many people say that the Market Revolution, the name given to this transformation, marked the beginning of modern America. The market revolution, an expansion of the market made possible by improvements in communication, transportation, and manufacturing. However, this fast advancement, had its downsides; it created a middle class due to factories needing engineers, accountants, lawyers, and businesspeople; therefore, not everyone made it into the middle class. The decline of skill labor increased, which meant people were going broke. All of that led to the Second Great Awakening, a protestant religious revival that influenced the abolitionist and temperance movements with their messages.
In The Kingdom of Matthias, the Second great awakening and The market revolution played a significant role in the characters of the book. For example, Elijah Pierson goes through immense changes throughout his life due to these two events that occurred in the 19th century. Elijah was brought up near Morristown on a farm where he learned, ‘God placed women and men into families and social ranks as well as governing their destinies.’ At such a young age, he believed these ideas were flawless. However, moving to New York caused Elijah to acknowledge how much times have changed. People in his hometown did not have any moral problems like the people in New York. The market revolution approached his life early when he realized he was probably not going to inherit his fathers’ farm; therefore, Pierson moved to New York, where he worked as an apprentice clerk. The only real value he kept that helped him was living and the moral code his father taught him. He learned that ‘Early marriage, a large family, and the assumption of fatherly pretensions would have doomed him to failure’. The second great awakening mainly influenced Elijah’s massive change; it played an important role because when he joined the Spring’s Brick Presbyterian Church and the Female Missionary Society there, he realized ‘the immutable inequality of this tight-knit patriarchy was a perfect model of injustice’, this made him question his belief and think for his own. He realized his patriarchal beginning was wrong and flawed, and this was something utterly new to him. So, this exemplifies how Elijah Pierson changed throughout his life because of the second great awakening and the market revolution.
On the other hand, ‘Matthews blamed his failed commercial and economic ventures on the system created by the Market Revolution.’ The effects of this religious revolution sought Elijah Pierson and Robert Matthews. Before the death of Elijah’s wife, the revolution had a positive impact on Pierson; he was economically stable, was actively involved in the Church, had a loving wife, and was also an essential part of the reform that was an effect of the Second Great Awakening. However, Unlike Pierson, Matthews never had a positive impact from the revolution; he had both economic and religious troubles and was almost always turned down by churches and employers. All of this caused Matthews to dislike Feeneyites. Matthias headed to New York City to start his own Kingdom, and he believed the messages he received from God told him to, in which the principles are the opposite of the present Christianity beliefs. For Instance, Matthews decided that anything that would cause grief should be banned, including money, economic oppression of any kind, or markets. Also, in Matthias’s ‘Kingdom,’ women would be the ‘property’ of men and where women are to cook, clean, stay home, and perform sexual acts for their husbands. Matthias believed that Christians ‘stole’ women and children from their fathers. The Second Great Awakening showcased Matthias’s thoughts of how women were showcased and used. He stated, ‘ They who teach women are of the wicked…All women not obedient, had better become so as soon as possible, and let the wicked spirit depart, and become vessels of truth…’. He seems to degrade women, the longer he is around them. The market revolution, as well as the second great awakening, did not favor Robert Matthews.
In conclusion, characters in The Kingdom of Matthias depict perfectly how people in the early 1800s were affected by the market revolution as well as the second great awakening. With Robert Matthews creating a whole new Sub-Religion his own unique way and with Elijah Pierson second-guessing the teachings of his childhood by comparing people from his hometown and people in New York.