The Ferment of Reform and Culture Ch. 15 by: Libby&Briana

  • A third revolution accompanied the reformation of American politics and the transformation of the American economy in the middle nineteenth century
  • As the young Republic grew, increasing numbers of Americans poured their considerable energies into an astonishing variety of religious revivals and reform movement
  • Societies were formed against alcohol, tobacco, profanity, and the transit of mail on the Sabbath
  • Beginning in the late 1790s and boiling over into the early nineteenth century, the Second Awakening swept through America’s Protestant churches, fundamentally reshaping the nation’s religious landscape, and powerfully reaffirming religion’s central role in American society, as a generation of believers embarked on their missions to perfect.

Reviving Religion

  • Church attendance was still a regular ritual for about three-fourths of the 23 million Americans.
  • The rationalist ideas of the French Revolutionary era had done much to soften the older orthodoxy
  • A key figure of the Second Great Awakening was the feminization of religion, in terms of both church membership and theology
  • Middle-class women, the wives and daughters of businessmen, were the first and most fervent enthusiasts of religious revivalism.

Denominational Diversity

  • The more prosperous and conservative denominations in the East were somewhat less shaken by revivalism, and Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Unitarians continued to rise mostly from the wealthier, urbanized, better-educated levels of society
  • Religious diversity further reflected social cleavages when the churches faced up to the slavery issue
  • The secession of the southern churches foreshadowed the secession of the southern states

A Desert Zion in Utah

  • Overcoming pioneer hardships, the Mormons soon made the desert bloom like a new Eden by means of ingenious and cooperative methods of irrigation
  • Under the rigidly disciplined management of Brigham Young, the community became a prosperous frontier theocracy and a cooperative commonwealth
  • A federal army marched in 1857 against the Mormons, who harassed its lines of supply and rallied to die in their last dusty ditch.

Free Schools for Free People

  • Tax-supported primary schools were scarce in the early years of the Republic
  • Though miserably lagging in the slavery-cursed South, triumphed between 1825 and 1850
  • As late as 1860, the nation counted only about a hundred public secondary schools -- and nearly a million white adult illiterates.
  • Black slaves in the south were legally forbidden to receive instruction in reading or writing, and even free blacks, in the North as well as the South, were usually excluded from the schools
  • Educational advances were aided by improved textbooks, notably those of Noah Webster, a Yale-educated Connecticut Yankee who was known as the “School Master of the Republic”.

Higher Goals for Higher Learning

  • The first state-supported universities sprang up in the South, beginning with North Carolina in 1795
  • Women’s higher education was frowned upon in the early decades of the nineteenth century
  • Women’s place was believed to be in the home, and training in needlecraft seemed more important than training in algebra
  • Traveling lecturers helped to carry learning to the masses through the lyceum lecture associations, which numbered about three thousand by 1835

An Age of Reform

  • As the young Republic grew, reform campaigns of all types flourished in sometimes bewildering abundance as the driving forces of religious revival and the rapid growth of a market economy converged
  • Modern idealists dreamed anew the old Puritan vision of a perfected society: free from cruelty, war, intoxicating drink, discrimination, and -- ultimately -- slavery
  • Agitation for peace also gained momentum in the pre-Civil War years
  • In 1828, the American Peace Society was formed, with ringing declaration of war on war

Demon Rum -- The “Old Deluder”

  • Custom, combined with a hard and monotonous life, led to the excessive drinking of hard liquor, even among women, clergymen, and members of Congress
  • After earlier and feebler efforts, the American Temperance Society was formed in Boston in 1826
  • Maine Law of 1851- prohibited the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor

Women in Revolt

  • When the nineteenth century opened,it was still a man’s world, both in America and Europe
  • Women were supposed to immerse themselves in their homes and subordinated themselves to their lord and master
  • Unflinching feminists met in 1848 in a memorable Woman’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York
  • The crusade for women’s rights was eclipsed by the campaign against slavery in the decade before the Civil war

Wilderness Utopias

  • Bolstered by the utopian spirit of the age, various reformers, ranging from the high minded to the “lunatic fringe,” set up more than forty communities of a cooperative, communistic, or “communitarian” nature
  • Various communistic experiments, mostly small in scale, have been attempted since the founding of Jamestown in 1607
  • The Shakers attained a membership of customs prohibited both marriage and sexual relations, they were virtually extinct by 1940

The Dawn of Scientific Achievement

  • Early Americans, confronted with pioneering problems, were more interested in practical gadgets than in pure science
  • People everywhere complained of ill health -- malaria, the “rheumatics,” the “miseries/” and the chills
  • Illness often resulted from improper diet, hurried eating, perspiring and cooling off too rapidly, and ignorance of germs and sanitation
  • The use of medicine by regular doctors was often harmful, and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes declared in 1860 that if the medicines, as they employed, were thrown into the sea, humans would be better off and the fish worse off

Artistic Achievements

  • As early as the 1770s, revolutionary Americans anticipated that a great cultural flourishing would accompany America’s political awakening
  • A remarkable Greek Revival came between 1820 and 1850, partly stimulated by the heroic efforts of the Greeks in the 1820s to wrest independence from the “terrible Turk.”
  • Lacking adequate copyright protections, songwriters in this era earned pennies, not profits

The Blossoming of a National Literature

  • After 1820 a confident cohort of young American authors finally began to answer the call for an authentic national literature
  • Their rise corresponded with the ware of nationalism following the War of 1812 and the arrival of romanticism on American shores
  • In direct contrast to neoclassicism, romanticism emphasized imagination over reason, nature over civilization, intuition over calculation, and the self over society
  • Emotion, expression, and experimentation were core values

Trumpeters of Transcendentalism

  • The transcendentalist movement of the 1830s resulted in part from liberalizing of the straightjacket Puritan theology
  • The transcendentalists rejected the prevailing empiricist theory, derived from John Locke, that all knowledge comes to the mind through the senses
  • Well known transcendentalists: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Brooklyn Walt Whiteman

Glowing Literary Lights

  • Certain other literary giants were not actively associated with the transcendentalist movement, through not completely immune to its influences
  • Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of the most popular poets ever produced in America
  • His wide knowledge of European literature supplied him with many themes
  • The most noteworthy literary figure produced by the South before the Civil War was novelist William Gilmore Simms
  • The Yemasee and The Cassique of Kiawah

Literary Individualists and Dissenters

  • A clique of contrary-minded authors plumped the darker realms of human experience, exploring pain, fear, and grief, along with the supernatural and the subconscious
  • Edgar Allan Poe was fascinated by the ghostly and ghastly, as “The Fall of the House of Usher” and other stories
  • Moby Dick was widely ignored at the times of its publication; people were accustomed to more straight-forward and upbeat prose

Portrayers of the Past

  • A distinguished group of American historians was emerging at the same time that other writers were winning distinction
  • Early American historians of prominence were almost without exception New Englanders, largely because the Boston are provided well-stocked libraries and stimulation literary tradition
  • These writers numbered abolitionists among their relatives and friends and hence were disposed to view unsympathetically the slavery-cursed South

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