How Reform Movements In The 1800s Sought To Expand Democratic Ideals (Ap Us History Dbq)

1186 words - 5 pages

America was expanding in the early 1800s, politically, economically, and socially. Many movements occurred during this time, particularly from 1825 to 1850, aimed to better laws, institutions, and society and to spread democracy overall. Although the religious, penal, education, and feminist reform movements in the United States sought to expand democratic ideals, the temperance and abolitionist reform movements ended up limiting democracy.The religious, penal, education, and feminist reform movements sought to expand democratic ideals, and that is exactly what they did. In the 1820s, Charles G. Finney, a Presbyterian minister, led the Second Great Awakening, or the religious revival. Finney preached that harlots, drunkards, and infidels could be “saved” through hard work and a steadfast faith in God (Document B). The religious revival was brought on to fight against deism. Finney pushed forth the creation of city churches, where everyone could come together to improve society. The religious reform movement expanded democratic ideals by telling people that they could take control of their own fate and could have the same rights as others if they just worked hard and had a strong faith in god. It pushed the equality of everyone in the country and also gave people the idea of perfecting society by starting other reform movements. Prior to the penal reform movement, the mentally ill and criminals were put together in prisons. The punishments were cruel and the conditions were unbearable. Dorothea Dix pushed the separation of the ill from the criminal and for the improvement of mental institutions to care for the mentally ill. As a result of the asylum reform movement, the penal reform movement was brought forward. Before, prisoners were just serving time in jail, not gaining anything from the experience. They gained no new skill and were sure to commit crimes again, and eventually land themselves right back into prison. This led to prisons becoming penitentiaries (Document A) and starting programs that would teach prisoners a special skill so they could leave prison with a new path and outlook on life. They also provided moral education through increased religious services. The penal reform movement pushed democracy forward by fighting for equal rights, humane punishments, and for the prevention of any type of unjust treatment in prisons and mental institutions. The reformation of education was brought on in part by the penal reform movement. The reform was intended to prevent criminal tendencies from ever touching the minds of children. Horace Mann led the movement with his cries of a free public school system that would be funded by the states. Prior to the 1840s, children were not forced to attend schools because of the costs, but Mann’s efforts trumped this barrier and spread free compulsory education to children across the country. McGuffey’s Readers also imposed social values and the Protestant work ethic into children...

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