Foundations Of Reform
The main cause of reform in America was the new religious movements. A main movement, as shown above, is the Second Great Awakening. This enforced individual society roles. Another important movement was transcendentalism, which was the belief in the good of man. This disagreed with many institutions and religions. Henry David led this movement, and pushed civil disobedience and the challenging of unjust laws.
Abolitionists were people who felt that slavery was unethical and unhumane. These people began speaking out against slavery. They began to write newspapers, give lectures, and overall tried to spread their message. Former slaves such as Sojourner Truth spoke out against the evils of slavery. Harriet Tubman helped slaves escape using the Underground Railroad. Alas, the south and most of the north was still persistent with the idea of slavery and the abolitionists idea did not catch on until much later.
Lucriet Mott and Elizabeth Candy Stanton were enraged by the lack of rights for women. Women were basically owned by their husbands because they had to give up all their wages and property once married. Women didn't have any voice in politics and couldn't speak out against social injustice. Mott and Stanton got together with other women to reform women's rights. This was called Women's Rights Convention. Eventually, reformers made progress and laws began to pass giving women the ability to keep property and wages, and pass more liberal divorce laws.
The Education Reform
During the 1800s, many children did not attend school because of the prices. A man by the name of Horace Mann decided to take steps to create a better and more educated future for all. He proposed that educating the youth would benefit the future by creating educated citizenry. The citizens of Massachusetts agreed with the proposal and began to pay taxes to pay for the education of the youth. Soon, public schools began springing up all over the country; sadly, girls still could not attend high schools or college.
The abuse of alcohol was common among many american citizens and people began to connect the breakup of families, crime, and mental illness to this problem. This launched the temperance movement, or the public campaign against the sale or drinking of alcohol. Soon, states such as Maine began to ban the sale of alcohol. Although the laws were repealed, this same movement would appear later on the 1800s.
Prisons in the 1800s had extremely filthy and inhumane conditions. Children and the mentally ill were often kept in the same areas as criminals, who often did not commit serious crimes. A woman by Dorothea Dix was teaching at a prison when she noticed these living conditions. She was angered and began to speak out against the inhumane conditions. Law makers were shocked by her reports and began to create mental hospitals for the mentally ill and juvenile facilities for children, creating the first prison reforms.