Reform Movements (1815-1860)

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Reform Movements (1815-1860)

Here are some of the notes you may have missed.

Anti-Slavery Movement

1 most active of the reform rnove­ments was that against slavery; many began before 1820

2 Early abolition movements

a Objections to slavery before the Revolution were not widespread, but protests by Quakers and Mennonites occurred as early as 17th century (Quaker John Woolman published anti-slavery pamphlet in 1754)

b first anti-slavery society established in 1775 in Phila, where first abolitionist convention later held

c movement for manumission (freedom) developed in upper South; stressed gradual, compensated emancipation and colonization abroad, but after a VA legislative debate (1832) the movement was silenced in south

d American Colonization Society formed in 1817; It founded the African republic of Liberia on the west coast of Africa for colonizing African Americans (Congress appropriated $ for the project); few free blacks chose to return to Africa

3 Abolitionists

a 1831William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of the radical abolitionist journal called The Liberator, condemned mild, gradual, and compensated emancipation and worked for immediate emancipation w/o compensation

b The American Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1833. It later split over inclusion of women

c Wendell Phillips in New Eng and Theodore Weld in West were other leading abolitionists

d Blacks played leading roles also

1 Henry Garnet, fiery abolitionist, urged armed rebellion, if necessary ”rather die free men than live to be slaves”

2 Frederick Douglass, self-taught runaway, became a great orator, editor of The North Star, a supporter of feminism and was appointed US Minister to Haiti (1889)

4 Many prominent ministers and other crusaders were active in the abolitionist societies over the North

a They flooded the country with antislavery literature

b first they Sought to convince owners that slavery was a sin and attempted to secure voluntary emancipation

c Later they turned to political action (Liberty Party in 1840.)

5 Abolitionists sent antislavery petitions to Congress where they were obligingly introduced by John Quincy Adams

6 Congress adopted "gag rule" in 1836 and tabled petitions without debate; Liberty Party soundly defeated in 1840; political action was unsuccessful

7 Resorting to direct action, abo­litionists organized the "Underground Railroad" to aid runaway slaves in making their way to Canada

Reaction to Abolitionism

1 Northern reaction to the antislavery movement reflected the general racism of American society

2 Abolitionism added a highly emotional issue to quarrels between the sections

2 Abolitionists were often attacked as radicals and troublemakers, with Garrison being mobbed in Boston, Elijah Lovejoy killed in Illinois, Lewis Tappan’s home sacked by a mob in NY

a after 1830 abolitionists were completely squelched in the South

b slave uprisings were blamed on abolitionists: in 1831 Nat Turner, an African American preacher, led a slave uprising in VA in which 55 whites were killed; Garrison and abolitionists were blamed

3 Southern postmaster stopped delivering abolitionist literature after mobs attacked post offices to destroy it

4 Slave codes were tightened in Southern states and patrols established

5 Justifications of slavery: The South, on the defensive due to abolitionist attacks

a the slave was better cared for and enjoyed more security than the Northern factory worker

b the African American slave was better off than in Africa

c slavery reflected the "natural order," in which the strong always dominated the weak

d slavery was accepted in Biblical times

e national prosperity was based on the export trade and the slave based economy of the South

Temperance Movement

1 aimed to combat the heavy consumption of alcohol in US; alcoholism seen as cause of poverty and social ills

2 as early as Revolutionary War, Dr. Benjamin Rush condemned alcoholic beverages as harmful to the health

3 Religious leaders and employers were chief sponsors of movement; others motivated by anti-immigrant bias

3 Religious minded reformers led the movement before 1820 and consolidated local temperance societies into the American Temperance Union.

4 Those advocating the moderate use of alcohol frequently clashed with the "teetotalers” who would prohibit alcohol totally

5 In 1840s thirteen states moved to restrict the production or sale of alcohol in some way

6 in 1851, under influence of Neal Dow, Maine passed total prohibition law

Treatment of the Insane and Criminals

1 people believed that the insane were morally responsible for their condition or viewed them with superstition

a Little hope was held for the cure of these unfortunates

b They were beaten, caged, and neglected

2 1830s-1840sDorothea L. Dix led a crusade for more humane and rational treatment of insane and feeble minded; influenced state governments across the country to establish hospitals for them

3 new, more humane approaches to crime in Europe began to affect US

a criminal codes and punishments were eased

b imprisonment for debt became less common

Peace movements

1 followed Europe’s lead after the Napoleonic wars

2 American Peace Society founded in 1828 under the leadership of William Ladd, a New England merchant

3 support came from other reform groups, and particularly from women and from traditional pacifists like Quakers

Women’s Rights Movement

1 From earliest times women were kept politically and legally subordinate to men

a They could not control property, make wills, vote, retain wages they had earned, or attend college

b They might legally be given corporal punish­ment "with a reasonable instrument”

c cult of domesticity both idealized and restricted women

d double standard of morality prevailed (more restrictive of women than men)

e large families common (though birthrate declining) and divorce rare; attempts at birth control increased, abortions were available to middle and upper class women (though outlawed in 20 states by 1860)

f middle class women could do charitable work

g women often met resistence when they joined or led reform movements; anti-slavery movement split over the issue of female participation (1840)

2 Seneca Falls (NY) Convention called by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848

a it issued a Women’s Declaration of Independence, a paraphrase of the 1776 document (“all men and women are created equal…”) which included a list of women’s grievances

b women’s movement leaders held subsequent annual conventions beginning in 1850

3 Some male reformers lent support and recognized the accomplishments of women; but many more opposed the movement

4 Successes:

a limited gains and opportunities were achieved for some women by 1860

b more women found employment in growing industry

c married women were granted control of property in 12 states

d some women promoted a movement for more comfortable clothing (bloomers!)

e some schools were opened to women, notably Troy Female Seminary (founded by Emma Willard in 1821), Oberlin College (first coed, 1837) and Mount Holyoke (first women’s college, 1837)

f a few low paying professions were open to women, particularly nursing and elementary school teaching

g women made slower progress in higher education: Rebecca Mann Pennell was appointed first woman professor on equal standing with men (at Antioch College) in 1852

h some remarkable individuals broke through the barriers of prejudice:

1 Margaret Fuller was leading Boston writer and critic

2 Fuller (1810 1850) and Susan B. Anthony (1820 1906) led the crusade for women’s rights to enter professions and to equality before the law

3 Elizabeth Blackwell received a medical degree in 1849 then set up a clinic for poor women and children

4 Sojourner Truth, a freed slave, was a leading abolitionist and activist for women’s rights

5 Sarah and Angelina Grimke, from a prominent SC slave-holding family, attacked slavery in speaking tours

The Philosophic Communitarians

1 collective societies led by Utopian visionaries were a conspicuous part of the reforming zeal of the first half of the nineteenth century

2 Most of them failed after a few years except those held together by strong religious convictions

3 Origins as reaction to Industrial Revolution

a various soci­eties sought a solution to the economic and social evils from the inequalities and insecurity produced by the industrial revolution

b Cooperative settlements found­ed to demonstrate that shared property and work would promote bet­ter life than the individualist lifestyle

c others sought economic equality and segregated themselves also to realize religious and social ideals

4 New Harmony

a Robert Owen, British mill owner and Utopian socialist, founded the colony of in Indiana in 1825, in addition to others in the United States and Great Britain

b Cooperative labor and collective ownership were to abolish poverty

c within two years the socialist experiment failed due to “disease of laziness”

5 Brook Farm

a founded on the ideas of the French socialist, Charles Fourier

b Emerson, Hawthorne, and other intellectuals for a time tried the Fourierist ideas

c These New England transcendental­ists were attracted by Fourier's emphasis upon the dignity of man

d they disliked the fierce competitiveness of private enterprise

e after five years of some success, esp with their school, the community succumbed to debt

f None of the 40­+ Fourierist societies succeeded--they proved impractical

The Religious Communitarians

1 Religious utopian societies began as early as the Ephrata Cloisters in 1732. Religious colonies did suc­ceed or at least survived for many years

2 The Amana Society, founded by German Pietists, who settled in Iowa in 1855, were notably success­ful in following a communitarian order until 1932

3 The Shakers

a began as Quaker offshoot in England under Mother Ann Lee (the name derived from their ritual dance)

b organized communistic colonies in the Ohio val­ley and in NY—20 by 1830

c They carried on a flourishing agriculture and noted for their crafts

d Numbers dwindled because of the practice of celibacy and the failure to attract converts

4 The Oneida Community

a John Humphrey Noyes led Perfectionist religious community from Vermont to Oneida NY

b Met hostile reactions to the practice of “complex marriage” (free love)

c successful small industry (including steel traps and silverware) enabled community to survive to 1879

Education Reform

1 Free public schools financed by property taxes became an objective of reformers who argued they were nec­essary for educating voters and citizens

a language and history courses would help assimilate immigrants

b ethical behavior was promoted through texts such as McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers; other influential books were Noah Webster’s spellers and Jedediah Morse’s geographies

2 Organized labor agitated for schools to provide more equality of opportunity and reduce the competition of children for jobs in industry

3 Horace Mann of MA in many ways promoted public education

a He founded first normal school, a two year post secondary institution to train teachers

b He influ­enced all the Northern states to create tax supported primary schools.

4 Thaddeus Stevens successfully guided a state school law through PA legislature in 1834

5 New England led the movement for free public schools. The south lagged behind the rest, although NC was most progressive state for public ed w/in the south

4 The lyceum movement began in MA, 1826Well known, popular educators and speakers were brought to towns during the winters to address adult audiences; similar Chautauqua movement (NY)

5 by 1850, subscription libraries were opened all throughout the North

6 Colleges

a The first coed college, Oberlin, was founded in 1833

b Mount Holyoke College in 1836 was founded for women

c 20 Western states founded universities before 1860

7 As for secondary schools, pri­vate academies prevailed
American Culture


1 “Age of the Common Man” saw emergence of distinctive American culture increasingly independent of European influences

2 Majority or Anglo-American culture was fully developed by 1860

3 Minority cultures (notably African American) were present


1 Represented a reaction to the Enlightenment in the arts (1770s-1830s)

2 emphasis swung to the individual, the perfectible common man

3 emotions and feelings were stressed over reason and science

Transcendentalist writers

1 Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings and lectures declared a kind of American intellectual independence with an emphasis on self-reliant individualism”Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string…Whoso would be a man, must be a non-conformist.” (“Self-Reliance,” 1841)

2 Henry David Thoreau’s nonconformity was illustrated by his experiment in simple living (Walden, 1854)

American Literature

1 Washington Irving was first widely acclaimed American author

2 Uniquely American themes were emph in novels of Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter), James Fenimore Cooper (Leatherstocking Tales), Herman Melville (Moby Dick), et al.

3 Edgar Allan Poe virtually invented horror and mystery stories

4 Poetry reached wide audience. Walt Whitman (“I hear America singing…”) emph national themes

5 New England produced first distinguished American historians (Bancroft, Parkman, Prescott)


1 Magazines, some illustrated, and newspapers began to reach wide audience with introduction of new printing machinery from Europe

2 The first penny daily was the New York Sun (1833)

3 Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune became the nation’s most influential newspaper

Music and Theater gained popularity

1 European musical talent, such as Jenny Lind, Swedish Nightingale, toured the country, but native American themes also emerged (Stephen Foster’s adaptations of American folk music)

2 Overcoming religious resistance to theater, European touring groups drew growing audiences. America produced some noted actors but few notable plays

American Artists

1 Often went to Europe for training and patronage

2 Portraits of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and Charles Wilson Peale and battle scenes by John Trumbull idealized patriotic themes

3 Landscape painters glorified the spectacular natural environment (Hudson River School)


1 showed little originality

2 Greed revival style in public buildings reflected both admiration for ancient Greek republics and for the contemporary Greek struggle for independence

3 Jefferson’s home (Monticello) and the library of UVA were outstanding examples of the classical style

4 With Romanticism, a revival of the Gothic style in public and private buildings occurred

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