Antebellum Reform Movements essays

By Teresa Kennedy,2014-04-13 22:56
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Antebellum Reform Movements essays

Reform in the Age of jackson

    “From about 1825 until the outbreak of the civil war in 1861, the atmosphere in the nation was one of reform” (Boardman, 122).

    There were five major reform movements present in 19th century America. There was the Utopianism/Communitarian Movement, which established an ideal society away from present

    politics. Educational reforms were important in the fact of creating taxes to support the public school system, higher education for adults, and mandatory education and attendance. The Temperance Movement preached of abstinence from alcohol and the Woman’s Rights Movement

    was to improve the life of women politically, socially, and economically. It also included the strive for women’s suffrage rights. Humanitarianism was improving the lives of those less fortunate.

    This movement also included and was closely related to the Abolition Movement.

    A great deal of the spirit to reform could be credited to the Enlightenment period of the 18th century, which was still influential in America. More recent though, was the period of Romanticism, which emphasized the goodness of nature and human kind. “To all this was added the democratic spirit of equality and the goal of Utilitarianism: the achievement of the greatest happiness for th

    Antebellum Periods and Reforms

    The Ante-bellum Period and The Reforms

    The overwhelming number of reforms in the ante-bellum period was a result the rapid change that was occurring around the country. These changes were seen in economics, politics and society.

    Americans reacted in a nationwide panic which created doubts of the goodness of the changes America was going through. The institution and then rise of the market economy and the Second Great Awakening had the greatest effect on America. The effect of these two things brought on many reforms by many different people in various aspects of America.

    Market economy had a significant change in all politics, economics, and society. The market economy is "where men and women grew crops and produced goods for sale at home or abroad... The money that individuals received from market transactions.....purchased items from produced by other people."1 This system was a devised so each person following could produce goods for a profit. America's economy was probably the most effected out of the three country functions. Market economy started many improvements in America through industrialization. New interventions in transportation and technology had a major effect on the pace in which America functioned. Tran

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    Sectionalism grew as people, in addition to others, started to question slavery. Therefore, woman

    started to see that they were not considered equal. This created tension between slaves and whites as well as North and South. Women were allowed to work and it became increasingly easier for women to support themselves. The market economy was a time when most of America concentrated on the economic growth of the country. Even though this event was mostly religious, it brought many people to realizations about America and about themselves. In politics, the rise of the market economy was supported by American government. Many different types of people took on major roles in this movement especially Evangelists and women. The "working for profit" ideology notably brought attention to the diversified country. This recognition of each groups distinctions created tensions among many groups. Henry David Thoreau called America's government of this period a "machine". The Whigs were involved in many kinds of reform, especially in government reform. As the North became prosperous through industrialization, the South still had the establishment of slavery. As these changes increased, so did a significant party split. These reformers also felt unrepresented.

Reform movements

    Reform movements in the early and mid nineteenth century were popular in the still infant nation of the United States. As the country became more stable politically, more concentration was placed on furthering the quality of life for all American citizens. As the reform movements became more popular, they also became more frequent, numerous and ranging in subject. Various issues, mainly slavery, religion, women’s rights, immigration and temperance, controlled the social setting of 1825-1850.

    The invention of the cotton gin, and the beginning of the cotton movement in the South greatly increased the support and use of slavery in many states, which led to the reform movements started by those opposing slavery. Primarily due to the Second Great Awakening, many people led a powerful movement against slavery called the abolitionist movement. One of the most influential examples of the abolitionist movement is William Lloyd Garrison and his newspaper, The Libera

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    The reforms shaped new paths of life for the generations to come in American history. Regardless of the result of these reforms they did seek to achieve the democratic ideals of equality and social and economic justice. Many people were concerned that these immigrants were not bettering the country in any way. People found comfort in knowing that regardless of the background God would take care of them and that God decided and blessed the life of each and every person (Document E). The American Temperance Society adopted methods using daunting images of drunkenness and its inevitable consequences. Many women during this time not only fought for their own rights, but they were also heavily involved in fighting for abolitionism and temperance. It was believed that drinking led to the destruction of one’s life one step at a time (Document H).

    Although the movement began with virtuous intentions and did have small positive effects, it soon became obvious that drinking could not be legislated.

    Each of the reforms movements were started by people who had immense pride for their country and a true yearning to bring justice to society (Document F). tor, which contributed tremendously to the spread of antislavery beliefs. They stressed the importance of resistance to temptation of alcohol. As the nation began to grow, mass amounts of Irish and German immigrants began an influx into the country. The temperance reforms promoted the sobriety and morality of the community. They wished to obliterate the view of women as property of the men (Document I). Transcendentalism

    The Unitarians of New England started transcendentalism, which peaked during the 1840's. Ralph Waldo Emerson was the foremost American Transcendentalist. He thought that the physical world

    was minor to the spiritual world but the physical world served society by showing splendor, discipline, language and by providing comedy. He also believed in the idea that people should educate themselves as much as they can about science through observation. Emerson and his followers believed in individuality. They thought that humans should uncover truth within them selves and trust primarily themselves. They thought to find out what is true, people must resist pear pressure and social rules to do what they believe within. The transcendentalists believed people should not let themselves be tied down by Christianity but find god in their own way. Though Transcendentalism in America in no way became very accepted, it still had a large affect on society and remains to affect society and culture. Transcendentalist writings have and will continue to influences people not just in the United States but all through humanity as well. Other leading Transcendentalists include Branson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Theodore Parker, and David Henry Thoreau.

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    Margaret Fuller’s editorship in the Dial was a good sign that transcendentalist women were now

    being heard and were doing work that added to their political education. Their protests were the final desperate stands for individualism and against conformity. The transcendentalists were rebellious against the tyranny of possessions and of highly organized social structure. Elizabeth Peabody used her father’s house as a meeting place for the transcendentalists. The effects of Transcendentalism are seen in modern changes. The antislavery movement increased questions about freedom and order that brought skepticism in transcendentalist thinking. After the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” he and many other people were drawn into the struggle against slavery. Margaret Fuller felt that men failed to see the social needs more known by women.

    Transcendentalism began as a reform from the Unitarian church and turned out to become a social and intellectual movement.

    Transcendentalism left many legacies after the movement faded away. The transcendentalists’ reform efforts provided to later social movements, notably the drive given to Gandhi and to the American civil rights movement of the 1960s by Thoreau’s group. As Transcendentalism was becoming more of a social movement, women were more involved in the transcendentalist groups. They were beginning to see that to reach their original goals, they had to become social reformers. Transcendentalist authors left many works that are still read today. But Ralph Waldo Emerson was the only individual who publicly opposed slavery with regularity.

Mid 19th Century Reform

    Mid nineteenth century[Antebellum] America was marked by a period of unprecedented social reforms. As the northern economy began to turn toward industrialization and the southern economy continued growing cotton as a cash crop, boundaries expanded westward. In a time that was very susceptible to rethinking and reevaluating, people began to question the systems that had been accepted in their society for years. Dozens of reform movements were formed to combat problems such as slavery, alcoholism, and women’s rights. The mid nineteenth century reform was very much a reality; it impacted many faces and aspects of lives in the mid nineteenth century, and our lives today.

    The anti slavery movement began as an effort to free slaves and then colonize them in Africa. After the country of Liberia was formed by colonization activists, they came into the realization that it was impossible to transport millions of slaves across the ocean. William Lloyd Garrison had redefined the anti slavery movement. Garrison’s efforts concentrated on how slavery was damaging for black society, who he claimed were equal to whites. His weekly publication, the Liberator, urged for an immediate end to slavery and preached for equal rights of black and white people. Many n

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    An unmarried woman in the mid nineteenth century was treated as a cripple. They believed that slavery would find its place into the ever-growing manufacturing world, and that slave labor would replace free labor system. These set backs shed light on women’s subordinate position in society. Slavery is currently outlawed in the United States, and has been since the 1860s. Involvement in the anti slavery movement led many mid nineteenth century women to realize they didn’t have many more rights then slaves. The temperance movement’s efforts paid off in the early 20th century when an era of prohibition of alcohol was established in the United States. Instead of immediate abolition, these people favored gradual emancipation. Temperance societies preached for alcohol consumption to end even in religious ceremonies, which struck a chord with many who found the demand absurd. Woman today have the same rights as men, and they are equal under the law. Free Soilers did not want slavery in the western territories because they believed it would hurt them economically. ortherners agreed that slavery was morally wrong, but

    still did not agree with Garrison and the abolitionists. Married women faced additional obstacles. This phenomenon had caused alcohol consumption in the country sky rocketed to 5 gallons per capita, the highest it had ever been. It was considered well within a man’s rights to beat his wife, yet women didn’t have to right to divorce their husbands.

Antebellum Reform Movements

    The Antebellum era or the Pre-Civil War period was known for many reform movements. The society at the time was experiencing a major change. Many movements such as the Transcendentalism and the Second Great Awakening inspired many intellectuals. These people are given the knowledge and the courage to fight for many things in society that were unfortunately looked down on in the past. These reforms were meant to rectify conditions that were considered inhumane and evil. Inspired by the Second Great Awakening, an optimistic spirit permeated public awareness of the underprivileged and the unfortunate. Those associated with improving the life of the society were known as humanitarians. Many reformers and humanitarians strived for success with their reforms. However, there were always those that frowned upon the new changes in society. From both sides, these reform movements have reflected both optimistic and pessimistic views of human nature and society.

    Before the Antebellum era, many women were denied many rights. After a marriage, the husband had legal rights to control all of his wife’s property, earnings, and children. Also, women were kept away from owning property, learning higher education, and participating in civ . . .

    The reform movement of Temperance had many views between the people depending on their way of perception on the idea. Secondly, many men didn’t like the equality at first because before they had possession of their wife’s land but now, their wife could own property and children before and after their husband’s death.

    The American reform movements between 1820 and 1860 had both their share of those optimistic of the movement and those pessimistic about the movement. Because of the reform movement, it showed that equality was a must in America. Worldwide temperance was a nice idea. Horace Mann earned the title of “Father of the public school in America” because of his efforts to spread education throughout America. Many people especially the “common man” believed that the common man has the ability to rise up in the social ladder. Additionally, in the mid 1850s, Susan B. No matter what movement that rose to the surface, there’s always an optimistic view to believe

    that the movement was a good thing. Their only escape from that world was consumption of alcohol during the early 19th century. But, as an opposing force, the people especially the men thought the women’s rights movement could destroy the tradition of men being superior over

    women. However, their movement showed that it took a long time for the government to actually give equal rights to women. With education finally made public, the reformers believed that

society will be more stable with not much distinction among classes. The women’s reform

    movement had shown many optimistic views within the society. Also, schools such as Oberlin College pushed forward having a co-ed school and also even allowing blacks to enter. Reform movements in 19th century

    Slavery was a part of the American lifestyle in the beginning of the 19th century. It had been part of America since the beginning of the presidents and continued to grow with each passing decade. During the “slave era” of America, democracy was also beginning to bloom as it created a better government with the help of each president and their presidencies. Slavery died down during the late 18th century, but with Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin, slavery soon grew to

    enormous heights. Extremists against slavery, called abolitionists, started to incite a reform movement in the hopes of abolishing slavery. The abolition movement is credited for also creating the women’s rights reform. As slave reform came about, women started to notice that the female

    half of the country was just as bad off as the slaves were, if not worse in some ways. The early 19th century reform movements for abolition of slavery and women’s rights illustrated a strong democracy in America because the people, led by a few extraordinary leaders, were now speaking up for what they believed was right. The reform moveme

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    For the duration of the reform movements in the early 19th century, the weaknesses of the American democracy came about in the political platforms. Garrison and many other abolitionists founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, proving that their strength would lie in numbers.

    The strengths of the women’s rights reform were just as powerful as the abolitionists. Amelia

    Bloomer created a fashion and political statement when she created bloomers, or Turkish trousers, which she wore under her “short” skirt. The reform movements of the 19th century, both led to the Civil War, as well as prolonged the start and agitation of the Civil War. The elections continually avoided the issues of rights for all, as the Constitution promised. Abolitionist sentiments flared up again as the Second Great Awakening came about. Elizabeth Blackwell, and Amelia Bloomer, all actively protested the way women were treated and regarded in the male dominated country. Women’s righters, such as Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. The strength of black abolitionists was almost a greater force. Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery, was recruited for the abolition movement in 1841, when he gave an amazing speech at one of the many antislavery meetings he attended. The federal government, during the reform movements, tried to suppress the reformers from surfacing and creating a major stir in the political affairs. The strengths of the reform movements show up clearly in the leadership and incredible convention/lecture gatherings of the reforms.

    Reform Movements: 1825 to 1850

    Reform movements during the years of 1825 to 1850 sought to expand several democratic ideals. Democrats desired a better quality of life for the common man. Drunkenness, ignorance and inequality were viewed as sins that needed to be removed to improve society. Many reform movements addressed these central issues.

    Many democrats viewed alcoholism as the cause for failure in the lives of common men. During this time, the average American drank 7 gallons of alcohol each year. “The Drunkard’s Progress, From the First Glass to the Grave” clearly showed that an occasional drink led to drunken behavior followed by poverty, disease, desperation and demise. (Document H) By 1834, five thousand temperance societies had organized to combat the evils of alcohol. Lyman Beecher proposed that the best way of life was total abstinence. Some legislators believed that the reason juveniles were involved in crime was because of a lack of parental influence caused by dru . . .

    The viewpoint in the reader did not support predestination, but stated that even the poor could be productive and happy with life. Another goal of educational reform was to teach uniform cultural values. An engraving by Patrick Reason that appeared in “The Liberator” drew attention to this fact. (Document C) Female slaves had even fewer rights that the normal house wife and were subjected to many cruelties such as sexual abuse by their white masters. (Document A) Young criminals would no longer be executed but reformed and released. (Document I) Inequalities existed not only between the sexes but also between races. By producing a better-educated generation, America would be equipped to compete in an industrial economy.

    Equality was another issue important to the common man, or perhaps we should say woman. (Document F) While living in a utopian community was thought to be an extreme measure sought by some to improve social life, it represented growing democratic ideals. A similar view was expressed in the 1841 Constitution of the Brook Farm Association, which linked productivity, industrialism, education and moral character. Horace Mann shifted financial support form the parents to state government, lengthened the school year, established a grade system through which students could progress and encouraged compulsory attendance. At this point women could not vote, own property or even manage their own money.

    Another reform movement that sought to improve the life of the common man was school reform.

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