“…the Methodists,” Horace Bushnell noted in 1847, “have a ministry admirably adapted, as regards their mode of action, to the new West”.
The American Methodist movement, which later became paradigmatic of the entire revivalist project, was successful precisely because it was able to capitalize on a certain temperament indigenous to the frontier of the American West.
When the New World had begun being colonized, it took a certain type of person to leave the established institutions and comforts of Europe to face the uncertainties and challenges waiting ahead. If you were not cut from the rugged, pioneer cloth, the new continent wouldn’t just be unappealing, it would break you. It is not hard to see how the spirit of the self-made pioneer gave momentum to Westward expansion or how it contributed to the atmosphere of entrepreneurship, independent thinking and rugged individualism that helped to make America so successful.