Reform Movements Jayla Hightower/ Evan Sorisantos p5

Foundations of Reform

Foundations of Reform: These were some of the efforts to Reform American society that came out of new religious movements sweeping across the country. Some of these movements include the Second Great Awakening, and the Transcendentalism movement, which was lead by Henry David Thoreau. The 2nd Great Awakening had the intention of reviving religious feeling and belief in the 1820s and 1830s, this emphasized the rule that individuals played in their society. The Transcendentalism movement was the belief in the goodness of man. This movement truly believed a self reliant man can reform society. Henry David advocated that people challenge laws which was also known as civil disobedience. Others included in this movement are Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Walt Whitman.


Abolitionists In the mid 1800s consisted of both the black and whites, who were speaking out against slavery. They wanted to promote "liberty and equality for all", and officially end slavery. The abolitionist movement began in the Revolutionary Era in response to the inhuman treatment towards slaves and partially in an effort to remove blacks from white society. Frederick Doughlas was an escaped slave and started his own antislavery newspaper called, the North Star. Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave as well, helped more than 300 slaves escaped slavery through The Underground Railroad systems, which was made of abolitionists that secret help runaway slaves reach freedom in the North. This antislavery movement failed to gain support in the south however. The abolitionists, who through their peaceful efforts and along with violence directed against, helped the north sway their attitudes about slavery.

Women's Rights

Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Candy Stanton attended a convention in London and couldn't speak about slavery simply, because they were women. Women couldn't vote or hold office. Any money the women earned belonged to their husband; a single woman became married and there wasn't a law against abuse by their husband. The Seneca Falls convention demanded equality for women at work, school, church, and voting booth. The reformers began allowing and making other laws.

Other Reforms

Some other reforms include the prison reform, public education, and the temperance movement.

Dorothea Dix disliked the conditions of prisons and decided to write a report for the mentally ill. Lawmakers voted to create new mental hospitals for the mentally through Dorothea's report. She also encouraged other reforms such as; the outlawing of cruel punishments, discontinuing of debtors' prisons, and the creation of a special justice system for children.

Horace Mann known as the "father of American Public Schools" spoke about how education is needed and that it should cost less. Through Mann's guidance, Massachusetts voted to pay taxes to build better schools, pay higher salaries for teachers, and to open schools to train teachers. This encouraged some states to do the same as well.

Reformers linked alcohol abuse to crime, the break up of families, and mental illnesses. The temperance movement started in the late 1820s. The movement is a public campaign against the sale or drinking of alcohol. In 1850, Maine banned the sale of alcohol and others began to follow. While these laws were later repealed, the movement would once strengthen again.


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