Sunday, William "Billy"
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Time Period
11/19/1862  - 11/6/1935
Description
After leaving a professional baseball career to join church ministry, Billy Sunday, under the tutelage of Presbyterian revivalist J. Wilbur Chapman, became a powerful preacher. His sermons drew large crowds as he moved from small Midwestern towns to large cities by World War I. Sunday’s dramatic gestures and slang-filled, everyday language galvanized audiences. However, it also irritated traditional clergy and laity, who found him sensationalistic. Although he regularly denounced a broad range of social "evils," he was most famous for supporting a prohibition of alcohol during his "Booze Sermon." His thousands of sermons and hundreds of campaigns led to a million listeners “hitting the sawdust trail” to follow Jesus.

Sunday gained acclaim and great wealth, but his popularity waned throughout the 1920s as his pro-Temperance views fell out of favor. Nonetheless, he helped strengthen conservative Protestantism and became one of the most colorful and popular revivalists of the 20th century.
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Narrative
William (“Billy”) Sunday came from humble beginnings, born on a farm in Iowa in 1862. He later became a professional baseball player for the Chicago White Stockings. In 1886, Sunday had a conversion experience and gave up baseball five years later to work for the YMCA. In 1893, he began working for the Presbyterian evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman and later succeeded him after Chapman retired in 1895. The Presbyterian church ordained him in 1903.

Sunday developed a large following as he moved from preaching in front of small Midwestern towns to the large cities of Chicago, New York, and Boston by the time of World War II. Sunday’s dramatic gestures and slang-filled, everyday language galvanized the millions of Americans who heard him, but it also irritated traditional clergy and laity, who found him sensationalistic. His thousands of sermons denounced the American evils of immigration, socialism, liberal religion, political corruption, and most important, alcohol. He would regularly appeal for a prohibition law during his “Booze Sermon” from 1905 to the passage of the 18th amendment. Also, he strongly supported the war against Germany. According to Sunday, a million listeners “hit the sawdust trail” to come forward and follow Jesus as a result of his preaching.

After gaining nationwide acclaim, and great wealth as a result, his popularity waned throughout the 1920s as his pro-Temperance views began to fall out of favor with many Americans. Nonetheless, he helped strengthen conservative Protestantism and became one of the most colorful and popular revivalists of the 20th century. Sunday died in Chicago on November 6, 1935.
Movements
The Third Great Awakening
Photographs

Billy Sunday portrait- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-69880

Billy Sunday and his wife- Library of Congress, LC-DIG-hec-05360

Billy Sunday preaching 2- Internet Archive- from Billy Sunday, The Man and His Message by William T. Ellis

Billy Sunday preaching 3- Internet Archive- from Billy Sunday, The Man and His Message by William T. Ellis

Billy Sunday preaching- Internet Archive- from Billy Sunday, The Man and His Message by William T. Ellis
Book/Journal Source(s)
Melton, J. Gordon, 1991. Religious Leaders of America. Detroit, MI: Gale.
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Reid, Daniel, Robert Linder, Bruce Shelley, and Harry Stout, 1990. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove, IL.
Web Source(s)
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/573796/Billy-Sunday
Billy Sunday's Encyclopedia Britannica Biography
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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