Methodists had only a small presence inat the beginning of the American Revolution (1775–1783), but by the time of the (1861–1865) they had become, along with the , one of the state’s dominant denominations. Organized at the University of Oxford in the 1730s by John Wesley and a group of fellow students, Methodism came to Virginia in the mid-1700s. Robert Williams arrived in the colony in 1772 and soon formed Virginia’s first Methodist circuit. The Brunswick Circuit, as it was called, hosted major revivals in 1775–1776, a time in which the colony’s Methodist population almost doubled. Following John Wesley’s lead, many Methodists were antislavery and, during the Revolution, loyal to the British government. In 1784, the group formed its own national church, the American Methodist Episcopal Church, and a second major revival occurred in Virginia from 1785 until 1788. Thousands of converts were won over by the promise of forgiveness of sins and a style of worship that emphasized trances, dreams, visions, and bodily movement. By the time of the Second Great Awakening, the Methodists, although still hosting revivals in Virginia, had become more politically and socially mainstream. Their presence transformed Virginia religion, however, by helping to usher in an era free from state-sponsored religion.