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A Step Towards Democracy: The Jacksonain Era

1023 words - 5 pages

The years between 1825 through 1850 were filled with reforms ranging from political reforms to religious reforms. This era is commonly known as the Jacksonian Era. Prior to the Jacksonian Era, the early 19th century was classified to be a period of extreme instability. The Jacksonian Era involved many new ideas such as King Mob, the spoils system, expansion towards the West, and the Bank War. These characteristics of the Jacksonian Era brought stability and set a foundation for which its people could start reform movements. Even though not all these reforms were successful, they all had the goal of expanding democratic ideals.
The first democratic ideal that was tried to expand was the right to individuality. The United States of America is very for everyone having a voice, after steering away from the monarchy committed by Britain. Clearly, democracy is all for everyone having their own voice and say, so individuality is clearly a democratic ideal. William H. McGuffey in 1836 wrote about a boy who represented the idea of individuality. The boy says, “I have been told, and I have read, that it is God who makes some poor, and others rich; that rich have troubles which we know nothing of; and that the poor, if they are but good, may be happy.” The good boy goes against the mainstream idea of being rich is better than being poor. He says that if anyone is just a “good” person, they will be happy. So in his mind, he is the happiest person alive. Along with the boy, the Brook Farm Association practices their right to be individual. They said they will solve conflict by, “making the acquisition of individual property subservient to upright and disinterested uses; to guarantee to each other forever the means of physical support, and of spiritual progress;-- we undersigned do unite in a voluntary Association.” This also goes against the general idea of competition. Farms usually compete with others to sell their cash crops. However, this special group of farms formed an association to benefit each other. These two reforms are perfect examples of the democratic idea of right to individuality.
Along with the right to individuality, ability to improve was another democratic ideal that was attempted to be expanded throughout the United States of America. In the fourth annual report on Juvenile Delinquents in the City of New York in 1829, the source wrote, “[United States of America] was the first to adopt the penitentiary system of prison discipline, and the first to attempt to prevent the commission of crimes, by seeking out the youthful and unprotected… by giving them industrious and orderly habits, rescuing them from vice and rendering them valuable members of society.” This report and more importantly the prison reforms for juveniles are very important in expanding democratic ideals because of their methodology. Unlike popular thought, the reformers are exercising the thought that all humans have the ability to change. Many people would argue that a...

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