Reform Movements. Essay

964 words - 4 pages

During the time period of 1825-1850, democratic ideals of eqality, liberty and pursuit of happiness were inculcated into the masses of America through a series of reform movements that emerged in the antebellum era. These reforms ranged from temperance, abolition and spirituality to public schools and good living conditions. Revival of religion provided new ideologies that paved the way for the Second Great Awakening. The reform movements of this period held a belies in the innate goodness of human nature which can improve his social, moral and spiritual life.Behind the reform impulse lay a religious movement - the evangelical revivals known as the second great awakening. Charles G.Finney established that protestant revivalism was a powerful force for the improvement of society as a whole.( Document B ). Even the " harlets, and drunkards, and infedels, and all sorts of abondoned characters are awakened and reformed", proclaimed Finney. He led ,massive revivals in Rochester (1830 ) and NYC ( 1831 ). It contributed to the growth of Methodist, Baptist and other evangelical denominations in America. It was believed that humans were moral free agents of God who could choose goods over evil.The age of reforms saw a great feminist movement in America. Many reformers demanded equal status for women in society. New York Female Reform Society tried to close houses of prostitution and opened up a refuge to convert prostitutes to evangelical protestants. The Seneca Falls, New York meeting in 1848 ( Document I ) and its 'Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, demanded not only for the equal status of women but it also demanded right to vote for the women like men. It was indeed a revolutionary idea in those days and it laid the foundation of the idea of equality of sexes.The reform movement converted the antislavery movement into the abolition movement thus supported the democratic sentiment of 'all men are created equal'. Great abolitionists like William Lloyed Garrison and Fredrick Douglass asked for the emancipation of slavery. Some abolitionists called for slave rebellion. Garnet appealed to the slaves to strike for their lives and liberties. " Rather die freeman, than live to be slaves" was his cry.Document C shows an engraving by Patrick Reason and depicts that abolition of slavery was an important part of reform movement. Today slavery is considered as a sin and each democratic constitution declares it a crime which is punishable under law.Educational reforms were introduced to creat an organised and disciplined population. Many reformers realised that people could only reap the rewards of these movements when they are educated. Thus, the reformers laid great emphasis on improving literacy. Public schools were formed to imbibe social values. Document E shows that these schools emphasised on hard work which was considered necessary for a growing nation and to make them responsible citizens. Horace Mann pushed for more and better schools, Noha...

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