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REFORMING AMERICAN SOCIETY
Transcript of REFORMING AMERICAN SOCIETY
TO WHAT EXTENT DOES AMERICA CONTINUE TO NEED REFORM?
Why was education reform needed during the 1800s?
How did reformers fix education issues of the 1800s?
REFORMING AMERICAN SOCIETY
How did reformers fix societal issues of the 1800s?
Why was societal reform needed during the 1800s?
Gender Equality Reform
Why was gender-equality reform needed during the 1800s?
In what ways is gender-equality reform still needed?
Prison & Asylum Reform
How did reformers fix prison and asylum issues of the 1800s?
How did reformers fix labor issues of the 1800s?
In order to try to get better wages and better working conditions, many people began forming
, or groups of workers of the same trade who would band together to try to improve their own working conditions. Unions could improve conditions for the workers by
setting standard wages
for all employees or advocating for
improvements to factory conditions
The workers of the Lowell Mills formed the
Lowell Female Labor Reform Association
in 1844. The President of the LFLRA, Sarah Bagley, testified about the working conditions of the mills to the Massachusetts legislature.
Read more about the LFLRA here:
Why was labor reform needed during the 1800s?
In what ways are societal reforms still needed?
In what ways is labor reform still needed?
How did reformers fix gender-equality issues if the 1800s?
Why was prison and asylum reform needed during the 1800s?
In what ways is prison reform still needed?
How did reformers attempt to abolish slavery in the 1800s?
Why was the abolition of slavery needed during the 1800s?
In what ways is the abolition movement still needed?
In what ways is education reform still needed?
In what ways is asylum reform still needed?
Is slavery still around? Check out your slavery footprint:
At the turn of the nineteenth century, the
was underway in America. With the introduction of many new inventions,
rapidly replaced the cottage based industries of the past. The rise of factories put many skilled craftsmen out of business but provided many opportunities for
children, women, and European immigrants.
Immigrants, women, and children were willing to work for very little money, which often led to
mistreatment in the workplace.
CASE STUDY: Eveleen Callaghan
Eveleen was born in Cork, Ireland on March 8, 1836. Her family moved from Ireland after the potato famine in 1846. The boat that came to America was overcrowded and she witnessed the death of her oldest brother and younger sister to small pox. She herself caught the disease and spent days begging for water or food aboard the ship.
At least 21 immigrants onboard her ship- 10 were German, 11 were Irish. Her family settled in Massachusetts near where the Lowell Mills were located. Eveleen's mother and Eveleen herself were instantly hired after three weeks in America. Eveleen was only eleven years old and her job was to pull the fibers between wire teeth set in boards.
Because she lost two of her fingers pulling fibers between wire teeth at thirteen, she was regarded as useless and was moved to warping the yarns from a number of bobbins. She stayed in this industry until the age of seventeen when she became used up and crippled from standing so much.
She was replaced and was separated forever from her family. It was believed that she began to forge iron in Plymouth but was released when burned across the face.
Eveleen died in 1858 in the streets of New York City at the age of twenty-one.
At the start of the nineteenth century, the town of Lowell bloomed into one of the largest textile manufacturing towns in the world. However, with the high demand for production came the high demand for work from their workers -- mainly women and children.
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, women began to enter the workforce and leave home to earn money for their families. Simultaneously, women began to find justifications for equality, noting that if women were contributing members of society then they should be treated the same as their male counterparts.
Explore primary sources from different reformers here:
Read the Declaration of Sentiments here:
Expectations for women causing health concerns!
lack of exercise (unladylike)
lack of vitamin D (being pale was in)
Women’s fashion = uncomfortable
Corsets interfered w/ breathing
Crinolines = cages to make skirts more full
Petticoats (layers of fabric to make skirt more full) lead to overheating
In the 1800’s, women led
lifestyles. Most women worked at home focusing on what is now known as the
cult of domesticity
; their days mainly consisting of cooking, cleaning, child rearing, farming, and educating of her own children. WIth the rise of factories, 1 in 10 women worked for wages BEFORE marriage,
earning only ½ the salary of men
. Once these women married,
they would no longer work.
At this time WOMEN COULDN’T……
sit on juries
Keep her own wages if employed and married
File for divorce
own property (transferred from father to husband)
go to college
keep her children if divorced!
Practice as a lawyer, doctor, or most other professional careers
Before 1800, no uniform educational policy existed in the United States
Classrooms were not divided by grade, so younger and older were all thrown together.
Most students dropped out by age 10 to help on the family farm or business.
In 1830’s there is a movement to demand
of MA is the 1st Secretary of MA Board of Education. He establishes:
Teacher training programs
Mann doubled the $ the state spent on education.
had provided some form of publicly funded elementary schools.
Read about more reformers here:
With the rise in immigration and the push for women entering the workforce, many reformers sought to end formally introduce
children to public education.
Advocates for "common schools" or
schools for the common people
, argued that all children should attend school in order to
required of them to
enter the workforce.
Dorothea Dix visited a Massachusetts House of Correction and discovered that jails often housed mentally ill people alongside criminals.
In 1843 she sent a report of her findings to MA legislature and helped pass a law reforming prisons
In 1852, Dix persuaded 9 Southern states to set hospitals for the mentally ill.
Dix emphasized rehabilitation, treatment that might reform the sick or imprisoned to a useful position in society.
I proceed, Gentlemen, briefly to call your attention to the present state of Insane Persons confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.
Between 1810 and 1830, the number of slaves living in America grew from about
1.2 million to 2 million.
Despite the slave trade ending in 1807, slaves born in America would automatically belong to the master. By 1850, over
2.2 million slaves worked on plantations
under the careful watch of owners who ruled with
On a plantation most of the slaves were
, who worked in the fields picking cotton and doing the hard labor. Some of the slaves on the plantation were “
”, meaning they served in the “Big House” cooking and cleaning. This was a slight step-up from being a field slave because the work itself was usually a little easier and because house slaves were often treated slightly better than the field slaves. House slaves often formed closer attachments to the white owners, and therefore were given nicer clothes so that they would look nice in front of company. In some instances, plantation owners would rent out their slaves as "
" who would work as skilled craftsman or factory workers.
Many slave owners pushed their state legislatures to tighten controls on African Americans. These controls became known as
. At this time, the U.S. Constitution counted African Americans as
of a person for purposes of representation. As a result, whether living as slaves in the South or free blacks in the North, they were denied the
basic fundamentals of freedom
under the Constitution and most state laws. Free blacks were not allowed to own guns, buy alcohol, gather in public, or testify in court. States did not want free blacks to have the capability to inspire enslaved blacks to run away, help slaves run away, help slaves rebel, or over power the white population.
“A city slave is almost a free man, compared with a slave on a plantation. He is much better fed and clothed, and enjoys privileges altogether unknown to the slave on the plantation.” -- Frederick Douglas
Many people, mostly slaveholders, argued that slavery was
good for the slaves.
Slave owners used the
Bible as a justification for slavery
, citing passages that told servants to obey. Slave owners also argued that slavery benefited the slaves because it removed them from
and brought them to a civilized, advanced, and Christian nation. The belief existed that if it weren't for the slaveholders, these
would never know God and therefore they would never get into heaven. Many slave holders also promoted the idea that slaves were well-liked and well-treated, which became known as
the myth of the Happy Slave
Read more about the myth of the Happy Slave here:
an end to slavery
, but as their efforts intensified throughout the 1850s it became clear that the issue of slavery could tear the country apart. Black and white abolitionists had different plans and approaches to end slavery. Some advocated for a
gradual and peaceful end
, while others advocated for a
Another group of abolitionists advocated for the
resettlement of blacks “back” to Africa
. By the 1820s more than 100 white abolitionist societies believed that the African Americans were inferior to whites and that the two groups could not peacefully coexist. These abolitionists established a colony in Africa for former African-American slaves. By 1847,
had about 3,000 former slave settlers.
William Lloyd Garrison: A radical white abolitionist and editor of anti-slavery newspaper
who spoke out early and called for the immediate emancipation of slaves
Frederick Douglass: A former slave who had escaped, and went on to publish another notorious anti-slavery newspaper
The North Star
Harriet Tubman: A former slave who had escaped and earned her nickname "Moses" by making the trip back and forth over twenty times to guide over 300 slaves on Underground Railroad.
David Walker: A free black citizen who urged blacks to violently rebel rather than wait for slave owners to end slavery in his
Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World
Sojourner Truth: An African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, who had been born into slavery but had escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. Famously advocated on behalf of black women's rights with her “Ain't I a Woman?” speech,
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Best known for writing the novel
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
in 1851, whose plot was based on accounts told to her by escaped slaves. The best-selling novels revealed the brutality of slavery and caused many Northerners to become abolitionists.
Some notable abolitionists include:
The abolitionist movement called for the end of the institution of slavery and had existed in one form or another since colonial times; the early case had been stated most consistently by the Quakers. Most Northern states abolished the institution of slavery after the American Revolution, reacting to moral concerns and economic infeasibility.
In the early nineteenth century, the movement grew and became more formally organized, but it also sparked opposition in both the North and the South; Northern mill owners depended upon slave-produced cotton every bit as much as the Southern plantation owners.
Undeterred, many abolitionists defied the original Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, as well as the later Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and actively sought to assist runaway slaves in their quest for freedom, most notably through the Underground Railroad.
Abolitionist leaders included such figures as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman adopted a militant tone and demanded the immediate end of slavery without compensation to slave owners and equal rights within mainstream society for everyone, regardless of race.
In the early nineteenth century, prisons tightened up and adopted a new system known as the
, in which prisoners were kept in separate cells and forbidden from socializing. Since
immigrants, criminals, and mentally-ill
often were those deemed
"unfit for society
", increasing numbers of prisoners threatened to
overwhelm the prison system
Advocates for prison reform, such as Enoch Wines and Theodore Dwight, worked to make sure prisons were
focused on reform and rehabilitation, not punishment.
Another reformer, Dorothea Dix, worked with state legislatures to provide funding for statewide mental hospitals with professional staff and treatment. Dix's efforts to pass a
national bill for the support of the mentally ill
were frustrated by President Franklin Pierce, who vetoed the bill because he believed that
states, not the federal government, should be responsible for social welfare.
During the antebellum era, many movements were born out of the same principles which President Jackson’s campaign was built on: that the
has the ability to change the nation. The focus on the individual and
what the individual can accomplish
can be seen in the social movements of the time period. Simultaneously America was in the midst of a religious revival known as the
Second Great Awakening
, which prompted more individuals perform
good deeds for humanity
in order to go to heaven. The combination of these two movements led to many groups trying their best to improve American society.
Prior to the
Second Great Awakening
, most people believed that all events had been
pre-decided by God
, including the
eventual fate of the individual soul
. This means individuals lived their life under the assumption that God (or fate) had already decided who would go to heaven after death and who would not, and therefore it your actions mattered less because your
ultimate destination had already been determined
As stated earlier, the 1800s also brought a wealth of new technology and the rise of factories in the United States. As more and more industries began making the
shift from cottage industry to manufacturing
, factories quickly replaced small businesses, leaving the
individual common man struggling
to make ends meet. Many viewed this as a sign that society was beginning to
depreciate the value of human capability
Lastly, during the 1800s, many became skeptical about the influence of the church on people's lives, noting that the
church was undermining the individuals ability to think for his/herself
. Similarly, the federal government's growing hunger for land, resulting in the Mexican-American War, frustrated Americans who
disagreed with how their tax money was being spent.
Example: Brook Farm, MA
Founded in West Roxbury in 1841 it promised its participants a portion of the profits from the farm in exchange for performing an equal share of the work. The community never did well financially and closed by 1847
The optimism of religious and social reform inspired the establishment utopian communities, which were founded by experimental groups who tried to create a “utopia”, or perfect place
Example: The Oneida Community
The old Oneida Community was a religious and social society founded in Oneida, New York, in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes and his followers.
The Community was founded on Noyes' theology of Perfectionism, a form of Christianity with two basic values; self-perfection and communalism.
These ideals were translated into everyday life through shared property and work. As "Perfectionists", they chose to live in a group-family, rather than a small unit of home and family and individual possessions,
The Oneida Community spent their time canning fruits and vegetables; they made traps and chains; they made traveling bags and straw hats and mop sticks and sewing silk and, last of all, they found out how to make silver knives and forks and spoons. (Today there is still a company of silversmiths known as Oneida Ltd.)
Nineteenth-century visitors to the Oneida Community in central New York State found a family of 300 individuals who lived in a rambling brick Mansion House and shared everything — their worldly possessions, their religious fervor, their sexual partners.
In 1869 the Oneida Community began a experiment in the selective breeding of human beings that produced 58 children from couples chosen by a committee on the basis of their spiritual qualities. A new wing of the mansion was added, where youngsters would be raised communally in nurseries and dormitories set apart from the private bedrooms of their parents.
The unhappiness of some inside the Oneida Community and the animosity of outsiders to their radical sexual practices combined to bring about the end of the commune. In June 1879, fearing criminal charges for sex-related crimes, Noyes fled to Canada. In August 1879, complex marriage ended, and the Oneida Community’s men and women began pairing off into monogamous marriages
Example: Shaker Communities
Followed the teaching of Ann Lee and set up communities in New York, New England, and on the frontier. The communities shared their goods with one another, believed in the equality of the sexes, and refused to fight for any reason. They could not marry or have children.
How did these communities attempt to reform society?
They embodied the ideals of working together to achieve salvation. The communities (as a whole) would be self-reliant and wouldn’t need other people. They also operated off of the belief that salvation (or utopia) could be found
The slaves often took the message of salvation as hope. Even if they could never be free in this life there was hope for eventual freedom and salvation in the after life.
The Second Great Awakening was a broad religious movement that swept the country after 1790. It rejected Calvinist belief in predestination (that an individual's fate was pre-decided) and instead, stressed individual responsibility for salvation.. This meant that in order for an individual to be “saved”, they would have to be a good person and perform good deeds. Religious people began to focus on fixing the problems in society so that they could get “credit” for it and therefore get into heaven.
In 1790, Charles Grandison Finney was a notorious preacher whose sermons were passionate and emotional and inspired individuals to hold themselves responsible for their own salvation. Finney was best known for his revivals, or emotional meetings designed to awaken religious faith. Revivals usually lasted about four or five days and crowds of up to 20,000 people would gather to hear the sermons. During the day preachers would speak at at night people would have private Bible study, focusing on how to make the world better and therefore "save themselves"
The religious movement had a big impact on slavery and the abolition movement. In the South, most Baptist and Methodist churches allowed the integration blacks and whites. Many slave owners now felt an obligation to save the souls of their slaves and brought them to church. Even though they sat in segregated pews, they listened to the same sermon and sang the same hymns.
Int he North, many free African Americans worshiped in separate black churches, which transformed into political, cultural, and social centers. Free blacks would meet to hear abolitionist speakers and unite against slavery. The Church was a driving force behind abolition!
Furthermore, many church-goers felt a moral need to end slavery. It was a problem that needed to be fixed and if a person worked to try to end slavery then that person might get into heaven.
Temperance also embodied one of the great historical trends of the nineteenth century—the rising power and influence of the individual in politics, philosophy, and economics. Over the course of the 1800s voting laws changed to allow all free white males to vote regardless of their ownership of land; uniquely American religions and philosophies such as placed a greater emphasis on individual thought and perception than on scripture; an emerging consumer economy gave greater authority and power to individual purchasing power. Society’s focus of individual choice and responsibility was present in the Temperance movement as individuals chose to take a pledge to stop drinking; a conscious choice for a person to make himself or herself a better human being.
During the Antebellum Era, many Americans drank excessively. Americans faced a serious amount of economic and social problems as a result of rapid inflation following the American Revolution, but even without hardships as an influence, drinking was also a way of life at the time. People accustomed to hard physical labor often drank when working—indeed it was often customary to pay workers with alcohol as well as money. Alcohol was an important part of all kinds of social functions from marriage ceremonies to elections to militia musters. In many parts of the country few drinks existed that did not contain alcohol, and it was often considered healthier to drink fermented and distilled beverages than water, which was often contaminated.
The Temperance Movement began to solve this growing problem. Beginning in the early 1800s the movement first tried to make people temperate in their drinking—that is to make them drink less. But by the 1820s the movement started to advocate for the total abstinence of all alcohol—that is to urge people to stop drinking completely. Many reformers viewed alcohol as a form of moral corruption; it brought out the worst in American society. The movement eventually was successful in passing laws that prohibited the sale of liquor in several states.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a New England writer, is considered to be a pioneer of this movement. As a son of a minister who grew frustrated with religion, Emerson focus on the individuals capability be in touch with their inner-self, God, and nature. He illustrated some of the most important Transcendentalist concepts in essays and books like "Self-Reliance" and "Nature”.
In his essay, "Self-Reliance", Emerson argues that we need to learn to be a lot more individualistic and rely on ourselves. He explains that only by following our own individual path and our own inner instinct will we be able to distinguish truth from falsehood and good from evil. Therefore, if individuals began to trust themselves, the world would be a better place!
In his essay, "Nature", Emerson argues for the power and value of nature, and that nature can actually lead us to God, and to our true selves. Emerson argues that everything in the natural world is connected, and that all individuals are connected because they are a part of the world..
Henry David Thoreau was a friend of Emerson and put the idea of self-reliance into practice. He built himself a cabin on the shore of Walden Pond in Concord, MA. Here he abandoned community life for two years and reflection on his natural surroundings guided his writing. Thoreau believed in the importance of individual conscience. People did not need laws to tell them what was right or wrong -- the truth came from within.
Thoreau urged people to disobey laws they considered to be unjust. This form of protest is known as Civil Disobedience. He did not agree with slavery or the impending War with Mexico so he refused to pay taxes to the U.S. government. He went to jail and began work on what would become an essay titled On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. The concept of Civil Disobedience later influenced the abolition movement as well as other social movements like the Civil Rights Movement
Alcohol is a "gateway drug":
America's growing alcohol problem: