Dramatic economic and political changes in the 1820’s and 1830’s transformed the wayAmericans thought about themselves and American society.Increasing opportunities and higher standards of living encouraged many in the North tobelieve that they could improve their personal lives and society as a whole.Many obstacles stood in the way of reform: 1. American society was rigidly divided by race, gender, wealth, and religion. 2. Reforms could threaten economic progress. 3. Reforms threatened to submerge traditional institutions and values.Reforms challenged the premises of America’s social order.
THE SECOND GREAT AWAKENINGCOLONIAL ERA – Calvinism predominated – a harsh, even ominous, religious interpretationEARLY 18th CENTURY – religious following becomes less fervid; church-goers complain about “dead dogs” indoctrinating them. Liberal ideas begin to challenge Calvinism (good works count – not doomed to predestination)GREAT AWAKENING (1730’s-40’s) – message of divine omnipotence to quash liberal thinking; “bring the flock back.”THOMAS PAINES’ “THE AGE OF REASONING” (1794- early 19th century) - “All churches were set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit” (a backlash). Unitarian movement follows.SECOND GREAT AWAKENING – boiling reaction against growing liberalism. Spread to the masses on the frontier by huge camp meetings. It was bigger than the First Great Awakening and spawns the era of reforms.
The Second Great Awakening left in its wake countless converted souls, many shatteredand reorganized churches, and numerous new sects. This “revival” was spread to themasses on the frontier by huge “camp meetings.”Many of the “saved” soon backslid into their former sinful ways, but the revivals boostedchurch membership and stimulated a variety of humanitarian reforms.
Bell-voiced Charles Grandison Finney was the greatest of the revival preachers of theSecond Great Awakening. He preached a version of the old-time religion, but he was alsoan innovator.A key feature of the Second Great Awakening was the feminization of religion, both interms of church membership and theology. They made up the majority of new churchmembers, and they were most likely to stay within the fold when the travelingevangelists left town.
A DESERT ZION in UTAH In 1830 Joseph Smith reported that he had received some golden plate from an angel. When deciphered, they constituted the Book of Mormon, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) was launched.
Smith ran into serious opposition from his non-Mormon neighbors – what were thereasons for the opposition? When Joseph Smith was murdered, Brigham Young led hisoppressed group to Utah.
Under the rigidly disciplined management of Brigham Young, the community became aprosperous frontier theocracy and a cooperative commonwealth.A crisis developed when the Washington govt. was unable to control the hierarchy ofBrigham Young, who had been made territorial governor in 1850. Serious bloodshed wasbarely avoided.
The Mormons later ran afoul of the anti-polygamy laws passed by Congress in 1862 and1882, and their unique marital customs delayed statehood for Utah until 1896.
FREE SCHOOLS for a FREE PEOPLETax-supported primary schools were scarce in the early years of the Republic. Why didadvocates of “free” education meet stiff opposition? And what changed theopposition’s mind? Tax-supported public education, though lagging in the South,triumphed between 1825 and 1850.
The famed little red one – room schoolhouse became the shrine of American democracy.Regrettably, it was an imperfect shrine. Describe the problems characterizing earlyAmerican schools. Reform was urgently needed. Identify & describe the reforms to improve public education.
AN AGE of REFORMAs the young Republic grew, reform campaigns of all types flourished. Some reformerswere simply crackbrained cranks, but most were intelligent, inspired idealists. Theoptimistic promises of the Second Great Awakening inspired countless souls to dobattle against earthly evils.Women were particularly prominent in these reforms crusades, especially in their ownstruggle for suffrage. For many women, the reform campaigns provided a uniqueopportunity to escape the confines of the home and enter the arena of public affairs.These reformers had a passionate desire to reaffirm traditional values as they plungedfurther into a world forever changed by the turbulent forces of a market economy.With naïve single-mindedness, reformers sometimes applied conventional virtues torefurbish an older order – while events pushed them headlong into the new.
Sufferers from so-called insanity were still being treated with incredible cruelty.Mental illness was not well-understood, and these individuals were thought to beperverse and depraved – to be treated only as beasts. Dorothy Dix emerged as the crusader for the rights of the mentally ill. Her work resulted in improved conditions and improved understanding.
DEMON RUM – THE “OLD DELUDER” The ever-present drink problem attracted dedicated reformers. Custom, combined with a hard and monotonous life, led to the excessive drinking of alcohol, even among women, clergymen, and members of Congress. Heavy drinking decreased labor productivity, increased workplace accidents, and fouled the sanctity of the family. After earlier and feebler efforts, the American Temperance Society was formed in Boston in 1826. Early foes of Demon Drunk adopted two major lines of attack. One was to stress temperance (total elimination); the other was anti-alcohol legislation.Mary Hunt
Neal Dow, the “Father of Prohibition,”sponsored the so-called Maine Law of1850. What did the law legislate?How effective was the law in thelong-term?It was clearly impossible to legislatethirst for alcohol out of existence, butby the eve of the Civil War, theprohibitionists had made some inroads– drinking did decrease a bit. Neal Dow
WOMEN in REVOLTWhen the 19th century opened, it was still a man’s world in America and Europe – provideexamples. How did industrialization separate women and men into sharply distincteconomic roles? Female reformers, while demanding rights for women, joined in thegeneral reform movement of the age, fighting for temperance and the abolition ofslavery. The women’s movement was mothered by some arresting characters. Prominent among them were Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth CadyStanton, and Susan B. Anthony. Lucy Stone
Fighting feminists met at Seneca Falls, New York, in a memorable Woman’s RightsConvention in 1848. The defiant Stanton read a “Declaration of Sentiments,” whichdeclared that “all men and women are created equal.” One resolution demanded theballot for women. This convention launched the modern women’s rights movement.
Many women reformers considered thetraditional wifely role equivalent toslavery.Would some contemporary Americanwomen share these sentiments?
Men reacted to the Seneca Falls Convention with a mix of anger and ridicule. Manyconsidered these reformers as frustrated “trouble-makers,” threatening the family &social stability.The crusade for women’s rights was eclipsed by the campaign against slavery in thedecade before the Civil War. Yet women, were gradually gaining more rights, albeit slowly.
WILDERNESS UTOPIASBolstered by the utopian spirit of the age, various reformers set up more than 40communities of a cooperative, communistic, or “communitarian” nature. The most radicalexperiment was the Oneida Community, founded in New York in 1848. Identify theunique characteristics of this community? How did the community sustain itself? Various communistic experiments have been attempted in America since Jamestown. But in competition with democratic free enterprise and free land, virtually all of them failed or changed their methods.
THE DAWN of SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTEarly Americans, confronted with pioneering problems, were more interested in practicalgadgets than in pure science. The Industrial Revolution would dramatically motivate thepursuit of science and technology. But medicine in America was still primitive by modernstandards. People everywhere complained of ill health – what were some of the ailments and their causes? Self-prescribed patent medicines were common as well home remedies – examples? Victims of surgical operations were ordinarily tied down, often after a stiff drink of whiskey. The surgeon then sawed or cut with breakneck speed, undeterred by the screams of the patient. A priceless boon came in the 1840’s, when several American doctors successfully used laughing gas and ether as anesthetics.
ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENTSArt, like architecture in early America, contributed little of note in the first half of the18th century. The art of painting continued to be hampered by a “brain drain” of artists,and the Puritan prejudice that art was a sinful waste of time and often obscene.Nevertheless, competent painters emerged. The HudsonRiver School flourished,focusing on the beautiful American landscape.
TRUMPETERS of TRANSCENDENTALISMThe Transcendentalist movement of the 1830’s resulted in part from a liberalizing ofthe strait jacket Puritan theology. The transcendentalists rejected the prevailingtheory of John Locke, that all knowledge comes to the mind through the senses. Truth,rather, “transcends” the senses: it can’t be found by observation alone. Every personpossesses an inner light that can illuminate the highest truth and put him or her indirect touch with God. The most prominent transcendentalist was Ralph WaldoEmerson. Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman were other noted Transcendentalists.
PORTRAYERS of the PASTA distinguished group of American historians was emerging at the same time that otherwriters were winning distinction. Energetic George Bancroft is known as the “Father ofAmerican History.”Two other historians are read with greater pleasure and profit today. William Prescottand Francis Parkman.Early American historians of prominence were almost without exception New Englanders– why? What was their biggest bias?