Reform Movements of the Ante-Bellum Period



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Reform Movements of the Ante-Bellum Period (1820s to 1850s)

  • Second Great Awakening
  • Treatment of Criminals / Prison Reform
  • Treatment of the Insane: “mentally challenged”
  • Temperance Movement: alcohol Consumption / Abuse
  • Women’s Rights
  • Education
  • Abolitionist Movement / anti-Slavery / Emancipation
  • Communitarian Movements

Focus Questions

  • Goals / Aims, and Successes and Failures, of the Reform Movements?
  • How did they reflect Optimism or Pessimism about Society?

Unit 4 Essay

  • To what extent were the Reform Movements of the Pre-Civil War decades successful in achieving their goals?

Second Great Awakening

  • First GA – 1720s
  • Second GA – 1820s
  • Same reasons; Decline in Piety, Attendance, Membership…
  • Orthodox / Established Religion was undermined by popular ideologies of Liberalism, Rationalism, Deism, Transcendentalism (Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience)

New ideologies focused on:

  • New ideologies focused on:
  • Merciful not wrathful god
  • Perfectibility, dignity, not depravity of man
  • Optimistic view of society, goodness of humanity, brotherhood ……
  • Humanitarian efforts
  • The traditional churches such as Congregationalists, Anglican (now Episcopal), Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist…..tried to revive themselves
  • New churches formed – Unitarian, Adventist, Mormon;
  • Old and new churches competed, contributing to the Second GA, a period of intense religious Revivalism

Unitarian (did not believe in the Trinity)

  • Unitarian (did not believe in the Trinity)
  • William Channing
  • Mostly North East and Upper Class
  • Focused on individual reading of bible, dignity of man, Humanitarianism….devoted to free will and use of reason
  • Mormon Church, 1830, Joseph Smith (officially the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints)
  • Explained his revelations in the Book of Mormon
  • Driven out of NY, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois: Why unpopular?
  • 1. neighbors didn’t like the idea of a co-operative community
  • 2. formed its own militia: drilled openly
  • 3. accepted polygamy

Smith and his brother were murdered in Illinois

  • Smith and his brother were murdered in Illinois
  • Brigham Young took the community to Utah in 1847.
  • Grew and prospered there in difficult conditions
  • Adventists or Millerites, after their leader William Miller
  • believed in the Bible's prophecy of a second coming of Christ and of a new millennium of holiness, peace, and harmony
  • Declined after Miller’s failed predictions about the second coming

Older Churches

  • Older Churches
  • Episcopal Church (Anglican Church)
  • Struggled to win back members, lost from the Revolution: slight recovery
  • Congregationalist Church of New Eng had lost many members to the Unitarian Church esp. in New England and NY (central and western NY = Burned Over District) and also slowly began to recover during the Second GA as it backed away from predestination and other doctrines: re-focused on the role of the US as a “beacon on a hill”
  • Presbyterians - won back many members during the Second GA

But the two most successful Protestant churches of the Second GA were the Baptists and the Methodists (sometimes considered New to this period)

  • But the two most successful Protestant churches of the Second GA were the Baptists and the Methodists (sometimes considered New to this period)
  • Methodists
  • Founded in England by John Wesley: in the USA grew under leadership of Francis Asbury
  • Focused on West and South
  • Itinerant ministers or circuit riders held open air camp meetings (famous ones at Pine Ridge, Kentucky)
  • Peter Cartwright: famous circuit rider: emotional, inspiring, charismatic speaker: “muscular religion” – broke up fights:

Charles Grandison Finney, great orator: he emphasized the importance of Good Works / Benevolent Actions, as well as faith: said the church had an obligation to take a stance on moral issues: denounced alcoholism, slavery, prison conditions, discrimination, lack of rights for women, poor education system

  • Charles Grandison Finney, great orator: he emphasized the importance of Good Works / Benevolent Actions, as well as faith: said the church had an obligation to take a stance on moral issues: denounced alcoholism, slavery, prison conditions, discrimination, lack of rights for women, poor education system

Features / Results of the Second GA

  • Features / Results of the Second GA
  • Emergence of new denominations, competing with older, revived churches: internal fragmentation
  • Focus on Western areas
  • Prominent role of Women; “feminization” of religion
  • Focus on Social Reforms: Revivalist religion was concerned with earthly life more than the next life
  • Focus on Missionary work among Native Americans
  • Success: Piety was restored, as was membership and attendance
  • Protestant Churches underwent fundamental changes in doctrine - erosion of predestination, original sin, the idea of a cruel and unforgiving God, depravity of man
  • Widened the lines between classes and regions (Methodist and Baptists in South and among lower classes)

Ante-Bellum Reform Movements

  • Influenced by:
  • New Ideologies: Liberalism, Rationalism, Deism, Transcendentalism
  • Second Great Awakening / Revivalism, esp. Methodist Preachers such as Finney
  • Jacksonian Democracy / Age of Common Man

Emphasis on

  • Emphasis on
  • the divinity of man
  • an optimistic view of human nature and society
  • the perfectibility of human nature and society
  • salvation through good works as well as faith
  • follow conscience in the search for what was right / just
  • focus on helping the lower classes
  • USA again should be a “beacon on a hill” – revive Puritan ideal

Reformers

  • Reformers
  • From the 1820s, new problems had to be addressed – some came from increased Population, Urbanization, Industrialization
  • Reformers emerged to demand change: most reformers were from the middle class
  • Some were better at denouncing problems than suggesting reforms
  • Some were naïve or didn’t understand the mindset of those they were trying to help
  • But most were sincere and humane

Treatment of Criminals/ Prison Reform

  • treated as they had been in the Middle Ages:
  • locked in old, damp, dungeon like jails; subjected to public floggings, public executions: young offenders guilty of petty crimes, and upper class debtors, were locked up with hardened criminals / murderers
  • Reformers emerged – led by Dorothea Dix - extensive investigation (60,000 miles in 8 yrs) - called for better prison conditions, a focus on reform not just punishment, separation of prisoners: improve inner city environment

NY and Penn were the first to improve prison conditions: other states followed their example….added “reformatories, penitentiaries, houses of correction”….

  • NY and Penn were the first to improve prison conditions: other states followed their example….added “reformatories, penitentiaries, houses of correction”….
  • Improvement / a start at least…but still a long way to go: Dix was moderately pleased …

Treatment of the Insane

  • No mental hospitals: many of the insane were committed to almshouses or locked up in jails: no care or treatment
  • Dorothea Dix advocated state supported mental hospitals / asylums, with a trained staff, and experiments in therapy.
  • She began an investigation of the conditions and treatment of the insane in the state of Mass. Presented it to the Mass legislature in 1841.

described how the insane were confined to cages, closets, cellars, pens, chained, beaten to quiet them

  • described how the insane were confined to cages, closets, cellars, pens, chained, beaten to quiet them
  • Over the next 30 yrs she campaigned throughout the country to arouse public attention / public officials to these problems.
  • Good deal of success. By 1850s, 28 states had mental institutions, operating on the assumption that cures could be found for their inmates….
  • Moderate success….still too few institutions to meet need

Temperance

  • Alcohol consumption was high esp. among working classes
  • Many Reformers believed that excessive drinking led to criminal behavior, unemployment because of absenteeism, pauperism, insanity, poverty, divorce, family break up
  • Felt that a focus on Temperance (reduction in consumption of alcohol or total) could advance the whole program of social reform – eliminate other social problems
  • Sensitivity? Some didn’t take into account that for many workers alcohol was one of the few sources of relaxation and enjoyment: and for some immigrant groups alcohol was a big part of their culture..

Local Temperance societies merged to form the American Temperance Union in 1826.

  • Local Temperance societies merged to form the American Temperance Union in 1826.
  • Meetings were like revivalist meetings with a distinct religious tone and message
  • Some leaders proposed that members be encouraged to consume alcohol moderately / temperance
  • Others, such as Lyman Beecher, wanted to get members to voluntarily commit to total abstinence / “teetotalism”; in the 1840s about 4m took “the pledge” to not drink alcohol,
  • The more radical favored urging States to pass Prohibition Laws, banning the manufacture, sale, consumption of alcohol

This campaign to take away choice was led by Neal Dow in Maine – the “father of Prohibition” (the "Napoleon of Temperance)

  • This campaign to take away choice was led by Neal Dow in Maine – the “father of Prohibition” (the "Napoleon of Temperance)
  • 1851, Maine passed the first state Prohibition Law (Dry Law); within the next decade 12 other states followed this example…banned manufacture, sale, consumption of alcohol
  • But the laws were unpopular with many people, and unenforceable – unconstitutional? : and were all repealed by 1860s
  • Overall: the Temperance Movement was again a moderate success; in this period overall consumption of alcohol declined: crime decreased, as did absenteeism, divorce

Women’s Rights

  • The “cult of domesticity” (domestic feminism – Republican motherhood) glorified the role of the mother in the home
  • But women had few rights outside the home: in education, employment, in politics (no vote, could not hold office), and in many states could not own property
  • In the 1830’s women’s leaders such as Sarah and Angeline Grimke emerged to demand Women’s Rights
  • In 1840, after being refused admission to the World Anti Slavery conference in London, Eliz Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, began to organize a structured campaign for women’s rights in the USA

In 1845, Margaret Fuller, published Women in the Nineteenth Century, which passionately protested against the inferior position assigned to women, and against their inability to obtain an identity except through their husbands

  • In 1845, Margaret Fuller, published Women in the Nineteenth Century, which passionately protested against the inferior position assigned to women, and against their inability to obtain an identity except through their husbands
  • Advocated divorce to terminate unsatisfactory marriages, and advocated birth control (“have kids by choice not by chance”)
  • 1848, the first Women's Rights Convention met at Seneca Falls, NY (majority of the women were Quakers): delegates adopted a statement, the Declaration of Sentiments, drafted by Stanton, paraphrased the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed that "all men and women are equal".

After listing women's specific grievances, the statement demanded that women "have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the US." – esp. the right to vote

  • After listing women's specific grievances, the statement demanded that women "have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the US." – esp. the right to vote
  • From the Convention emerged the Women’s Suffrage movement…advocates would include Lucy Stone, Eliz Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and the Grimke’s
  • Criticized for spreading themselves too thin – for becoming sidetracked with Abolitionism, Temperance, and other Reform issue (Dix)- and becoming distracted from Women’s Rights / Suffrage Movement
  • May have sent the message that other issues were more important
  • Gains
  • Women gained some rights before 1861 – property rights, esp. in Western states: in employment they came to dominate two professions, nursing and elementary teaching (Catherine Beecher)
  • In Education, they secured admission to more high schools, and in 1837 Oberlin College became the first coeducational college. In 1837 the first women's college, Mount Holyoke opened, founded by Mary Lyon. Emma Willard set up the Troy Female Seminary in NY
  • Few / small gains…..not the successes they hoped for…..esp. in politics…no vote until after WWI

Education.

  • Primitive public education system in the North by this time, mostly for the poor (run down buildings, untrained teachers, no text books, limited curriculum – 3 R’s): well off kids went to private school
  • As a result….a high rate of illiteracy
  • Among the groups who called for an improved system of Public Education in the 1830s were
  • Employers who wanted a literate, educated workforce
  • Politicians who wanted educated, knowledgeable voters

Reformers who hoped that education would “shape the moral character of society” (Lyman Beecher) and mean less crime, less alcohol abuse, a more stable society etc

  • Reformers who hoped that education would “shape the moral character of society” (Lyman Beecher) and mean less crime, less alcohol abuse, a more stable society etc
  • Workers who wanted better jobs….
  • German immigrants
  • Opposition came from some taxpayers, and religious groups who supported private, religious education
  • A leading advocate for Reform was Boston’s Horace Mann; (also Lyman Beecher):

Mann was app. Head of Mass Board of Ed: transformed the Mass education system, creating a model other states would follow: free tax supported schools, non-denominational, a trained professional teaching staff, organization of classrooms according to grade level / based on age and ability, better textbooks (written by Webster and McGuffey)….and better buildings

  • Mann was app. Head of Mass Board of Ed: transformed the Mass education system, creating a model other states would follow: free tax supported schools, non-denominational, a trained professional teaching staff, organization of classrooms according to grade level / based on age and ability, better textbooks (written by Webster and McGuffey)….and better buildings
  • Influenced by Mann, by 1850 many Northern states had developed an improved public education system, at least at elementary and middle school levels (k-8)
  • However, attendance was not compulsory, terms /semesters were short, the curriculum was confined…..

The private Lyceum movement organized a program of adult education, concentrated on lecture courses, and funding libraries

  • The private Lyceum movement organized a program of adult education, concentrated on lecture courses, and funding libraries
  • Despite the limitations, by 1860, the US had one of the highest literary rates in the world: 94% of the population of the Nth and 83% of the white population of the Sth were literate
  • The number of Universities was also growing, and the first State universities were established – Virginia, North Carolina

Writers / Literature / Other Scholars in this Period

  • Writers / Literature / Other Scholars in this Period
  • Emily Dickinson; recluse, poems not published while alive
  • Edgar Allan Poe: fascinated with ghostly and ghastly
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
  • Herman Melville; Moby Dick
  • George Bancroft: Father of American History/Historian
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson: preacher, then writer, transcendentalist
  • Henry David Thoreau: transcendentalist; Civil Disobedience (advocated self reliance) Gandhi, King
  • Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass, transcendentalist
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: popular poet
  • John Greenleaf Whittier: Quaker: anti slavery poems
  • Louisa May Alcott: Little Women

Stephen Foster: a white Pennsylvanian, wrote black songs

  • Stephen Foster: a white Pennsylvanian, wrote black songs
  • Washington Irving: Knickerbockers: international fame
  • James Fenimore Cooper; Knickerbockers: Last of the Mohicans
  • William Cullen Bryant; Knickerbockers
  • McGuffy’s Readers: lessons in morality, patriotism, idealism
  • Noah Webster; textbooks, dictionary
  • Louis Agassiz: Biology
  • Asa Gray: Botany text books
  • John Audubon: Naturalist, Birds
  • William Ladd: American Peace Society, 1828
  • John Trumbull, Thomas Cole, Charles Peale: artists/painters

Abolitionism (Emancipation)

  • Slavery was abolished in the Northern states before or after the Am Rev; strong anti-slave sentiment in Nth, esp. among religious groups, esp. Quakers (also, the North didn’t need slaves – easier to oppose it)
  • American Colonization Society was set up in 1817 by Benjamin Lundy - proposed gradual, compensated, voluntary emancipation, and then re-colonization in Africa (set up Liberia in 1822).
  • William Lloyd Garrison split with the conservative Lundy: started his own newspaper, the Liberator, in Boston and founded the American Anti-Slavery Society

Advocated immediate, non-compensated, mandatory emancipation, with full equality and freedom afterwards

  • Advocated immediate, non-compensated, mandatory emancipation, with full equality and freedom afterwards
  • By 1840 Garrison’s society had a network of 2,000 branches, with approx. 200,000 members stretched across the north.
  • Other abolitionists leaders who played significant roles were Wendell Phillips in New England, Arthur and Lewis Tappan in NY, and Theodore Dwight Weld in the West
  • As the Abolitionist movement grew, the South became more and more alienated – resented the constant criticism of the Slave Institution and in general the condemnation of Southern Society and Economy – developed a siege mentality…..led to the Civil War

Success; Emancipation was introduced in 1863 by Pres. Lincoln: slaves were freed… but through a Civil War, and, except for the 10 years of Reconstruction, they were not really “free” or equal – their civil and political rights were denied in the South (and North)

  • Success; Emancipation was introduced in 1863 by Pres. Lincoln: slaves were freed… but through a Civil War, and, except for the 10 years of Reconstruction, they were not really “free” or equal – their civil and political rights were denied in the South (and North)
  • Next Unit deals more with slavery: notes from next Unit will help with this topic / Unit

Communitarian Movements

  • Some perfectionists felt the need to flee society to establish their own perfect societies…society was not reforming at a fast enough pace….pessimism
  • Some felt that they could encourage society in general to undergo regeneration by building model communities….optimistic
  •  
  • 1. Shakers - their goal was holiness through a form of Christian communism. Founded by Mother Ann Lee: Grew into about 20 communities by the 1840s, with about 6,000 members, mostly in the Nth and Nth West

Named because of their ritualistic shaking, dancing, and chanting to shake themselves free of sin.

  • Named because of their ritualistic shaking, dancing, and chanting to shake themselves free of sin.
  • Abandoned the traditional male / female roles in favor of equality: introduced complete celibacy, which made it difficult for the community to survive long term  
  • 2. In 1825, Robert Owen, a Scottish textile manufacturer and philanthropist, set up the first significant nonreligious Communitarian enterprise - a socialist utopian cooperative - at New Harmony, Indiana, attracting about 1,000 people.
  • Focused on cooperative labor and collective ownership of property, and even distribution of profits

Lasted about 2 yrs: failed due to lack of incentive / business enterprises collapsed (failed due to “radicals, work shy theorists, and scoundrels”)

  • Lasted about 2 yrs: failed due to lack of incentive / business enterprises collapsed (failed due to “radicals, work shy theorists, and scoundrels”)
  • 3. In 1836 the perfectionist John Humphrey Noyes organized an association of Bible Communitarians in Putney, Vermont – later formed the Oneida Community in NY; attracted about 300 people
  • Rejected traditional notions of family and marriage and introduced a complex system of relationships involving polygamy and polyandry (multiple husbands) – no strictly monogamous marriages – included free love, birth control, eugenic selection of parents to produce superior offspring

Children were raised communally – hoped to liberate women from the bonds of traditional marriage

  • Children were raised communally – hoped to liberate women from the bonds of traditional marriage
  • The Community outraged its neighbors and was forced to move to NY.
  • Met with hostility there too: managed to set up a model education system, and prospered economically, operating a large farm and several manufacturing enterprises (silver products).
  • The Oneida Community survived until 1879 (30 yrs) – Noyes eventually dissolved it because of hostility from outside and internal quarrelling:
  • One of the most successful Communities in terms of longevity and Economic prosperity

4. Brisbane brought the ideas of French reformer Charles Fourier to Brook Farm near Boston in 1841

  • 4. Brisbane brought the ideas of French reformer Charles Fourier to Brook Farm near Boston in 1841
  • Promoted an optimistic view of human nature, social harmony, no gov. intervention (considered one of the first Socialists)
  • Wanted members to lead “a simple and wholesome life away from the pressures of society, among liberal, intelligent and cultivated people, where self realization was possible…plain living and high thinking”
  • All were to contribute to the physical work of the community – physical work helped produce a better rounded person

Attracted many Transcendentalists / intellectuals

  • Attracted many Transcendentalists / intellectuals
  • Community dispersed after a fire destroyed buildings / debts built up …

The Communitarians reflect Pessimism and Optimism

  • The Communitarians reflect Pessimism and Optimism
  • Pessimism - society was not capable of reform, so they had to leave and create their own Utopias
  • Optimism - create models for mainstream society to copy, models of reform – believed that society was capable of reform and change (Optimism)

What were their successes and failures: which ones were most successful?

  • Second Great Awakening…..religious revival
  • Treatment of Criminals / Prison Reform…minor reforms? Treatment of the Insane: “mentally challenged” .. minor?
  • Temperance Movement: alcohol Consumption / Abuse…reduced consumption, Prohibition did not last
  • Women’s Rights…gains but not enough
  • Education… some improvements in public ed. in North
  • Abolitionist Movement / anti-Slavery…successful but divisive
  • Communitarian Movements… temporary success only


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