"Reform Movements In The United States Sought To Expand Democratic Ideals." Assess The Validity Of The Statement With Specific Reference To The Years 1825 1850."

1058 words - 4 pages

In the time of 1825-1850, United States officials and activists sought to expand the democratic ideals in which the country was founded. Activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton as well as many other women pushed for the right to vote, stating that both men and women were created equal, and women should be given the right to vote, for it was the democratic action to take. Other activists began to create democratic reforms as well, fighting to reinforce the ideals the nation so actively prides itself in. Many however, did not take part in these reforms, insisting that the old ways were the best ways.The Second Great Awakening was the push that brought on these reform movements. Beginning in New England, in the late 1790s, and later spreading throughout the country, the Second Great Awakening brought on a new way to look at life. People felt freer to announce their thoughts. They weren't limited to choices about G-d and strict rules of Calvinism which before ravaged through the country, setting people's minds in narrow-minded ways. The Second Great Awakening brought on the idea that G-d may or may not exist, and it was up to the people to decide what they wished to believe. More then ever, tolerance spread throughout the nation, and people grew more eager to challenge other established institutions in which they believed their views may be tolerated--and accepted as well.The Second Great Awakening helped expand democratic ideals as well by creating higher standards for the common man. As written by Charles G. Finney, "When the churches are...awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow." Finney also states that "drunkards, harlots and infidels" could also participate in this higher standard of life for the common man if they were reformed by the church. In Charles G. Finney's work, the democratic principle that all men are created equal, that the common man is equal to an aristocrat clearly shows throughout his reforms. (Document B)The 1835 engraving by Patrick Reason depicting a female black slave caged in chains with the quote "Am I not a woman and a sister?" is another work in which democratic principles were using to push for reforms for equality. This work ties in the injustices of both abolition and women's suffrage, both which were being pushed for reforms in the earlier half of the 19th century. However as democratic these reforms were, it is noteworthy to see that these reforms were not pushed to be made for everyone, for suffrage and abolition for minorities such as Native Americans were not even entered into any of these movements. (Document C)Although many took part in these overwhelmingly democratic reforms, many did not. The Second Great Awakening reinforced the ideals of tolerance and acceptance for all, while the belief of Nativism held people back from embracing the ideas the Second Great Awakening spread. (Nativism is the belief that only white Anglo-Saxon Protestants should be allowed suffrage, as...

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