Reform Movements By Rakia Holmes and Schuyler Loughlin Period 1

Foundations of Reform

Most of the United States' reform movements were born out of religious movements. Two religious movements that led to the following reforms are Transcendentalism and the Second Great Awakening. The Second Great Awakening focused on the roles that individual persons played in their own societies. Transcendentalism was the belief in the goodness of man, many Transcendentalists believed that a man who relied on himself had the power to Reform society. The writings and works of art created by many of these Transcendentalists inspired reform movements that were to come. One last factor that influenced the people was Andrew Jackson. He inspired ordinary people to do extraordinary feats, as he was ordinary and had become great.

Abolitionist Reform Movement

An abolitionist is a person who advocated or supported the abolition of slavery in the US. Many, both white and black, spoke about liberty and equality for all. The abolitionist movement began around the time of the Revolutionary Era, but a lot of this movement arose from the horrible act of slavery. Their goal was to put an end to slavery and would take further action such as debating, writing, and striking to get their point across. These actions did come with consequences like abolitionists being put in prison, however their work wasn't for nothing. The efforts of abolitionists began to move the North, and the intense fight for freedom for blacks contributed to the reform movements.

Women's Reform Movement

In 1840, two suffrage superpowers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, attended the World Antislavery Convention in London. The women were not allowed to voice their opinions and were outraged, thus the women's Reform Movement was born. Women in this time period were not allowed to vote, hold office, and all property owned along with money made belonged to their husbands. Stanton and Mott could not stand to the side, so they hosted The Seneca Falls Conventionin which they proposed the Declaration of Sentiments. This convention demanded equality at school, work, church, and with voting for women; it also was the "official" start of this organized women's rights movement.

Prison Reform Movements

Dorothea Dix, a determined woman, fought hard to urge the need for change to happen in prisons. In 1841, Dorothea went to go teach Sunday school at a jail; however, she was horrified at what she saw going on there. Inmates were bound together by chains and thrown into cages, and children with minor crimes were jailed with adult criminals. She traveled throughout Masschusetts to look at the conditions of other prisons, and on her journey she discovered something else. The mentally ill were locked away in filthy, congested prisons and where whipped if they misbehaved; unhappy with this, Dorothea claimed that the mentality ill needed care not punishment. She gathered enough evidence and proof about how conditions like these could no longer escalate, and in return, she was able to rid the cruel punishments, get more hospitals made, commutation of sentences, the separating of women and children , and proper care given to the mentally ill.

Picture of the Prison Reform leader Dorothea Dix
Temperance Reform Movements

The Temperance Movement was a public campaign against the sale or drinking of alcohol. Alcohol abuse was hugely spread among all ages and genders. People supporting this movement, or Reformers, thought alcohol abuse to be connected to crime, he breakup of families, and mental illness. By 1850, Maine had already banned the sale of alcohol. Many stat s followed Maine's example by passing similar legislation. Though the acts were later repealed, this issue presented itself again in the late 1800s.

Education Reform Movement

Education Reform was another significant movement, only this reform dealt with changes for schools. Horace Mann, also known as "father of American public schools", spoke out about the importance of the education produced from schools. Many children couldn't afford school because it cost too much, this would soon become a detriment to their learning. A lot of people saw education as a way of resolving conflicts in society, like poverty and crime. With Horace Mann's speaking out for change, he convinced citizens of Masschusetts to pay taxes which would go to building better schools, fund for training teachers, higher teacher salaries, and cheaper for students to enroll. It was because of Horace Mann's notion of better public education, and other reformers efforts that the school system is in much better shape than it was before.

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