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    Chapter 15 Student Guide Mr. Driscoll’s Class


    The Ferment of Reform and Culture, 17901860

    AP Focus

    ; The Second Great Awakening releases a torrent of religious fervor, combining a belief in moral self-

    improvement and a wish to expand democracy by means of evangelicalism. Religion and Reform are among

    the new AP themes.

    ; From the 1830s to 1850s, the nation experiences a burst of reform activity. Various movements set out to

    democratize the nation further by combating what they see as institutions and ideas that thwart the expression

    of democratic values and principles.

    ; The Hudson River School of art celebrates, mostly through landscape painting, the nation‘s endless

    opportunities, uniqueness, and promise. Transcendentalism, a philosophical and literary movement, shapes the

    cultural outlook of the nation by pointing out the limitations of empirical evidence and encouraging

    individuals to rely on their senses and emotions to achieve moral improvement. Culture is another AP theme. Take note of the following:

    1. Historians debate whether the term Jacksonian democracy is accurate. Some see Jackson as a representative

    of the common man and at the center of the era‘s democratizing spirit. Others see Jackson as indifferent to

    some reform movements (such as women‘s suffrage), opposed to others (abolitionism—he was a slave owner),

    or unaware of others (possibly urban reform). They hold that grassroots movements in the 1830s, 1840s, and

    1850s were the primary impetus for reform.

    2. Some reform movements advocated challenging the social, economic, and ideological status quo. Advocates

    of women‘s rights, for example, challenged the stereotypes that associated women with a ―cult of domesticity.‖

    Abolitionists challenged the institution of slavery. For their part, temperance advocates fumed that American

    civilization and culture were being undermined by ―demon rum.‖

    PART I: Reviewing the Chapter

    A. Checklist of Learning Objectives

    After mastering this chapter, you should be able to:

    1. Describe the widespread revival of religion in the early nineteenth century and its effects on American culture

    and social reform.

    2. Describe the cause of the most important American reform movements of the period, identifying which were

    most successful and why.

    3. Explain the origins of American feminism, describe its essential principles, and summarize its early successes

    and failures.

    4. Describe the utopian and communitarian experiments of the period, and indicate how they reflected the

    essential spirit of early American culture despite their small size.

    5. Identify the most notable early American achievements in science, medicine, the visual arts, and music, and

    explain why advanced science and culture had difficulty taking hold on American soil.

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    Chapter 15 Student Guide Mr. Driscoll’s Class

    6. Analyze the American literary flowering of the early nineteenth century, especially the transcendentalist

    movement, and identify the most important writers who dissented from the optimistic spirit of the time. B. Glossary

    To build your social science vocabulary, familiarize yourself with the following terms. 1. polygamy The practice of having two or more spouses at one time. (More specifically, polygyny is marriage

    two or more wives; polyandry is marriage to two or more husbands.) ―Accusations of polygamy likewise

    arose and increased in intensity.‖

    2. theocracy Literally, rule by God; the term is often applied to a state where religious leaders exercise direct or

    indirect political authority. ―. . . the community became a prosperous frontier theocracy and a cooperative


    3. zealot One who is carried away by a cause to an extreme or excessive degree. ―But less patient zealots came

    to believe that temptation should be removed by legislation.‖

    4. utopian Referring to any theoretical plan that aims to establish an ideal social order, or a place founded on

    such principles. ―Bolstered by the utopian spirit of the age, various reformers . . . set up more than forty

    [cooperative] communities. . . .‖

    5. communistic Referring to the economic theory or practice in which the means of production are owned by

    the community as a whole. ―. . . various reformers . . . set up more than forty communities of a . . .

    communistic nature.‖

    6. communitarian Referring to the belief in or practice of the superiority of community life or values over

    individual life, but not necessarily the common ownership of material goods. ―. . . various reformers . . . set up

    more than forty communities of a . . . ‗communitarian‘ nature.‖

    7. free love The principle or practice of open sexual relations unrestricted by law, marriage, or religious

    constraints. ―It practiced free love (‗complex marriage‘). . . .‖

    8. eugenic Concerning the improvement of the human species through selective breeding or genetic control. ―It

    practiced . . . the eugenic selection of parents to produce superior offspring.‖

    9. coitus reservatus The practice of sexual intercourse without the male‘s release of semen. ―It practiced . . .

    birth control through ‗male continence‘ or coitus reservatus.‖

    10. classical Specifically, in Western civilization, the culture of ancient Greece and Rome, and the artistic or

    cultural values presumed to be based on those ancient principles; more generally, any cultural form whose

    value has been established and recognized over time. ―He brought a classical design to his Virginia hilltop

    home, Monticello. . . .‖

    11. mystical Referring to the belief in the direct apprehension of God or divine mystery, without reliance on

    reason or human comprehension. ―These mystical doctrines of transcendentalism defied precise definition. . . .‖

    12. nonconformist One who refuses to follow established or conventional ideas or habits. ―Henry David

    Thoreau . . . was . . . a poet, a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a nonconformist.‖

    13. nonviolence The principle of resolving hostilities or managing conflict without resort to physical force. ―His

    writings . . . inspired the development of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s thinking about


    14. urbane Sophisticated, elegant, cosmopolitan. ―Handsome and urbane, he lived a generally serene life. . . .‖

    15. providential Under the care and direction of God or other benevolent natural or supernatural forces. ―. . . he

    lived among cannibals, from whom he providentially escaped uneaten.‖

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    Chapter 15 Student Guide Mr. Driscoll’s Class

Chapter Themes

    Theme: The spectacular religious revivals of the Second Great Awakening reversed a trend toward secular rationalism in American culture and helped to fuel a spirit of social reform. In the process, religion was increasingly feminized, while women, in turn, took the lead in movements of reform, including those designed to improve their own condition.

    Theme: The attempt to improve Americans‘ faith, morals, and character affected nearly all areas of American life and culture, including education, the family, literature, and the artsculminating in the great crusade against


    Theme: Intellectual and cultural development in America was less prolific than in Europe, but they did earn some international recognition and became more distinctly American, especially after the War of 1812. CHAPTER SUMMARY

    In early nineteenth century America, movements of moral and religious reform accompanied the democratization of politics and the creation of a national market economy. After a period of growing rationalism in religion, a new wave of revivals, beginning about 1800, swept out of the West and effected great change not only in religious life, but also in other areas of society. Existing religious groups were further fragmented, and new groups like the Mormons emerged. Women were especially prominent in these developments, becoming a major presence in the churches and discovering, in reform movements, an outlet for energies that were often stifled in masculinized political and economic life.

    Among the first areas to benefit from the reform impulse was education. The public elementary school movement gained strength, while a few women made their way into still tradition-bound colleges. Women were also prominent in movements for improved treatment of the mentally ill, peace, temperance, and other causes. By the 1840s, some women also began to agitate for their own rights, including suffrage. The movement for women‘s rights, closely linked to the antislavery crusade, gained adherents even while it met strong obstacles and vehement opposition.

    While many reformers worked to improve society as a whole, others created utopian experiments to model their religious and social ideals. Some of these groups promoted radical sexual and economic doctrines, while others appealed to high-minded intellectuals and artists.

    American culture was still quite weak in theoretical sciences and the fine arts, but a vigorous national literature blossomed after the War of 1812. In New England, the literary renaissance was closely linked to the philosophy of transcendentalism promoted by Emerson and others. Many of the great American writers, such as Walt Whitman, reflected the national spirit of utopian optimism, but a few dissenters, such as Hawthorne and Melville, explored the darker side of life and of their own society.

    character sketches

    Charles G. Finney (17921875)

    Finney was the most influential revivalist of the Second Great Awakening and a president of Oberlin College, a center of abolitionism and reform.

    Although he was a successful attorney before turning to preaching, Finney never attended college or law school. Despite his dislike of conventional churches, he underwent a total conversion to religion after reading the Bible on his own. He then abandoned his law practice entirely, saying that he had a ―retainer from the Lord to plead His


    Finney was ordained by the Presbyterians but was often at odds with them and conducted revivals completely on his own. Besides the anxious bench, some of his other new methods included praying by name for the conversion of

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    Chapter 15 Student Guide Mr. Driscoll’s Class

    sinners in the community, holding extended nightly meetings for a week or more, and encouraging women to pray and speak publicly. He also used theatrical gestures, movement, and emotional rhetoric to rouse his listeners. Quote: ―A revival is not a miracle, or dependent on a miracle in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means.‖ (Lectures on Revivalism, 1835)

    REFERENCE: William G. McLoughlin, Modern Revivalism: Charles Grandison Finney to Billy Graham (1959).

    Joseph Smith (18051844)

    Smith was the founder and original prophet of the Mormon Church.

    The poor New York frontier family in which he grew up frequently moved during his childhood. He experienced his first vision of the angel Moroni in 1820, followed by subsequent encounters that led to the discovery of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon recounts the coming of Old Testament people to America and the battles of the good Nephites with the evil Lamanites (American Indians).

    The Mormon Church was organized very hierarchically, with Smith as ―Seer, Translator, Prophet, Apostle of Jesus Christ, and Elder of the Church.‖ He gave numerous new revelations before his martyrdom in Carthage, Illinois. The most famous was that allowing polygamy; Smith himself had twenty-seven wives at the time of his death. He had also announced his plan to run for president of the United States in 1844.

    A magnetic personality, Smith was down-to-earth, clever, physically vigorous, and virile. Quote: ―We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.‖ (Statement of Faith, 1843)

    REFERENCE: Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (1984).

    Catharine Beecher (18001878)

    Beecher was a prominent women‘s educator and writer and a member of the famous Evangelical family.

    Catharine, the oldest of four Beecher daughters, was very close to her father, and when her mother died, sixteen-year-old Catharine took over much of the responsibility for managing the household and the younger children. Her plans to marry an unchurched man in 1822 came to naught when he died four months after their engagement, and she took the death as a divine judgment on her. The following year, she opened the first of her female seminaries.

    Beecher insisted that the young ladies in her schools take up physical exercise and attacked the confining clothing and social norms that restricted women. But she opposed higher education for women and attacked women‘s involvement in abolitionism and other social reforms. Her popular Treatise on Domestic Economy, written with her

    sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, contained practical tips on child-rearing, cooking, family health, and other matters that would enable women to run their homes effectively.

    Quote: ―Any activity that throws woman into the attitude of a combatant, either for herself or others, lies outside

    her appropriate sphere.‖ (An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism, 1837)

    REFERENCE: Kathryn Kish Sklar, Catharine Beecher: A Study in American Domesticity (1973).

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton (18151902)

    Stanton, the cofounder (with Lucretia Mott) of the Seneca Falls Convention, was the most influential nineteenth-century American feminist.

    Her father was a lawyer, and she took great interest in his work. When he said to her, ―Oh, my daughter, I wish you were a boy,‖ she set out to show him that girls were as good as boys.

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    Chapter 15 Student Guide Mr. Driscoll’s Class

    She wrote the ―Declaration of Sentiments‖ for the Seneca Falls Convention and pushed through the demand for woman suffrage. For a few years, she wore Amelia Bloomerstyle pants outfits in protest against women‘s

    confining clothing.

    After 1851, she worked in close collaboration with Susan B. Anthony. Anthony was the traveler and organizer who focused almost exclusively on suffrage, while Stanton was the writer and theorist who advocated a broader feminism and many other radical causes. She was lively, humorous, well read, and a very popular speaker. Quote: ―I should feel exceedingly diffident to appear before you at this time, having never before spoken in public, were I not nerved by a sense of sacred right and duty [and]…did I not believe that woman herself must do this work; for woman alone can understand the height, the depth, the length and the breadth of her degradation.‖ (Speech to the Seneca Falls Convention, 1848)

    REFERENCE: Alma Lutz, Created Equal: A Biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1973).

    Mary Lyon (17971849)

    Lyon was a pioneering women‘s educator and the founder of Mt. Holyoke Seminary (later Mt. Holyoke College).

    One of her male schoolteachers told her that the general belief in women‘s mental inferiority was wrong and the

    girls could absorb as much advanced learning as they had an opportunity to obtain. She opened her first girls‘ school in 1824 but spent much time pursuing knowledge on her own by attending lectures at all-male Amherst College.

    She raised the first thousand dollars for Mt. Holyoke on her own and took no salary until the venture was under way. The original name for the school was to be Pangynaskean (Greek for ―whole-woman-making‖), but this was

    dropped after press ridicule. Mt. Holyoke was unique among female seminaries because the young ladies were taught the same academic subjects as men and because the students managed their own cooking, housekeeping, and laundry.

    A very religious woman, Lyon often encouraged campus revivals. She was hardworking, friendly, and very popular with students and faculty. So indifferent was she to dress that her students bought her stylish hats to replace the unfashionable ones she usually wore.

    Quote: ―During the past year my heart has so yearned over the female youth…that it has sometimes seemed as if there was a fire shut up in my bones.‖ (1834)

    REFERENCE: Anne Rose, Voices of the Marketplace: American Thought and Culture (1995).

    Henry David Thoreau (18171862)

    Thoreau was the writer and friend of Emerson whose works on nature and civil disobedience have had a continuing influence on American culture.

    He was born in Concord, Massachusetts. The death of his older brother, John, at a young age deeply affected Henry and contributed to the lonely and tragic side of his character.

    After resigning from school teaching after a few weeks because he refused to discipline the children, he later organized a progressive school, where classes were held outdoors and children were encouraged to develop their own interests.

    Emerson agreed to allow Thoreau to build his cabin on Emerson‘s property at Walden Pond if Thoreau would clear the land and put in a garden. Thoreau moved there on the Fourth of July, 1845, and stayed two years and two months. During that time he wrote his two masterpieces, Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack


    Quote: On his deathbed, Thoreau was asked if he had made his peace with God. He replied, ―I did not know that we had ever quarreled.‖

    REFERENCE: Robert D. Richardson, Thoreau: A Life of the Mind (1986).

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    Chapter 15 Student Guide Mr. Driscoll’s Class

Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)

    Emerson was the most famous American writer and philosopher of the early nineteenth century, whose transcendentalist theories shaped the golden age of New England literature.

    He came from a long line of New England clergymen but eventually abandoned both the pulpit and conventional religion. His speech to the Harvard Divinity School in 1838, which questioned the value of historical Christianity, aroused ministerial opposition and prevented his returning to Harvard until 1865.

    Emerson was popular in the local community of Concord, where he was once elected Hogreeve (the town official in charge of rounding up stray pigs). After his ―American Scholar‖ lecture, he was in great demand as a speaker and traveled thousands of miles to deliver his addresseswhich he repeated many times. His booming platform voice

    belied his generally quiet and mild-mannered demeanor.

    Quote: ―Books are for the scholar‘s idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men‘s transcripts of their readings.‖ (―American Scholar‖ address, 1837)

    REFERENCES: Joel Porte, Representative Man: Emerson in His Time (1979); Robert D. Richardson, Emerson: The

    Mind on Fire (1995).

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