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• Religious revivalism and social and
economic changes lead to reform
• Most reformers eventually enter
political arena.
• Greater political organization and
participation energizes reform
• As nation expands westward, part of
the competition for reform is over the
The Second Great
“Spiritual Reform From Within”
[Religious Revivalism]

Social Reforms & Redefining the

Ideal of Equality

Temperance Abolitionism Education

Asylum & Women’s

Penal Reform Rights
The Rise of Popular Religion
In France, I had almost always seen the
spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom
pursuing courses diametrically opposed to
each other; but in America, I found that they
were intimately united, and that they
reigned in common over the same country…
Religion was the foremost of the political
institutions of the United States.
-- Alexis de Tocqueville, 1832
“The Pursuit
of Perfection”
Antebellum America
“The Benevolent Empire”:
1825 - 1846
The “Burned-Over” District
in Upstate New York
Second Great Awakening
Revival Meeting
Charles G.
(1792 – 1895)
The ranges of tents, the fires,
reflecting light…; the candles
and lamps illuminating the
encampment; hundreds moving
to and fro…;the preaching,
praying, singing, and shouting,…
like the sound of many waters,
was enough to swallow up all
“soul-shaking” the powers of contemplation.
The Mormons
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

 1823  Golden
 1830  Book of
 1844  Murdered in
Carthage, IL

Joseph Smith
Violence Against Mormons
The Mormon “Trek”
The Mormons
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

 Deseret
 Salt Lake City,

Brigham Young
Mother Ann Lee (1736-1784)
The Shakers
If you will take up your crosses against the
works of generations, and follow Christ in the
regeneration, God will cleanse you from all

Remember the cries of those who are in need

and trouble, that when you are in trouble, God
may hear your cries.
If you improve in one talent, God will give
you more.
Shaker Meeting
Shaker Hymn

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'Tis the gift to be free,

'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained

To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Till by turning, turning we come round right.
Shaker Simplicity & Utility
(European Romanticism)

Liberation from understanding and

the cultivation of reasoning.”

“Transcend” the limits of intellect

and allow the emotions, the SOUL,
to create an original relationship
with the Universe.
Transcendentalist Thinking
 Man must acknowledge a body of moral truths
that were intuitive and must TRANSCEND
mere sensational proof. Moral truths:
1. The infinite benevolence of God.
2. The infinite benevolence of nature.
3. The divinity of man.

 They instinctively rejected all secular authority

and the authority of organized churches and
the Scriptures, of law, or of conventions
(European Romanticism)

 Therefore, if man was divine, it would be

wicked that he should be held in slavery, or
his soul corrupted by superstition, or his mind
clouded by ignorance!!

 Thus, the role of the reformer was to restore

man to that divinity which God had endowed
Transcendentalist Intellectuals/Writers
Concord, MA

Ralph Waldo Henry David

Emerson Thoreau

Nature Resistance to Civil

Self-Reliance Walden
(1832) Disobedience
(1841) (1854)

“The American
Scholar” (1837)
• Romanticism/transcendentalism refers to a
set of loosely connected attitudes toward
nature and humankind.
– NOT romantic “love”
• The movement known as romanticism sprang
up in both Europe and America as a reaction
to everything that had come before it:
– The rationalism of the 18th Century Age of Reason.
– The strict doctrines of Puritanism.
– The early industrial revolution.
• Romantic artists, philosophers, and writers
saw the limitations of reason and celebrated
instead the glories of the individual spirit, the
emotions, and the imagination as basic
elements of human nature.
• The splendors of nature inspired the
romantics with more than the fear of God,
and some of them felt a fascination with the
• Romantic works exhibited a preoccupation
with atmosphere, sentiment, and optimism.
Key Ideals
• There is an essential unity of all creation.
• There is a deep continuity between nature
and humans.
• Nature is an emblem of spiritual reality,
through which one can gain access to
transcendent truth.
• Nature thus has deep religious/spiritual
meaning, but ultimately it is that which
transcends nature that has the deepest
spiritual value.
• Because of the continuity of nature and
the spirit, to understand spiritual
truths, one needs to develop sensitivity
to and communion with nature.
• Time spent in contemplation of nature
and its beauty is an essential part of the
religious/spiritual process.
Original Fireplace Site
View from the cabin to Walden Pond
A Transcendentalist Critic:
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
Their pursuit of the ideal led to
a distorted view of human
nature and possibilities:
* The Blithedale Romance

One should accept the world as

an imperfect place:
* Scarlet Letter
* House of the Seven
Utopian Communities
The Oneida Community
New York, 1848
Millenarianism --> the 2nd
coming of Christ had
already occurred.

Humans were no longer

obliged to follow the moral
rules of the past.
• all residents married
to each other.
John Humphrey Noyes • carefully regulated
“free love.”
Secular Utopian

Individual CONFLICT Demands of

Freedom Community Life

spontaneity discipline
self-fulfillment organizational
George Ripley (1802-1880)

Brook Farm
West Roxbury, MA
Robert Owen (1771-1858)

Utopian Socialist
“Village of Cooperation”
Original Plans for New Harmony,

New Harmony in 1832

New Harmony,
Penitentiary Reform

Dorothea Dix

1821  first
penitentiary founded
in Auburn, NY
Dorothea Dix Asylum - 1849
Temperance Movement
1826 - American Temperance Society
“Demon Rum”!

Frances Willard
The Beecher Family
“The Drunkard’s Progress”

From the first glass to the grave, 1846

• American society for the Promotion of
Temperance (1826) lobbied for
individual abstinence and state
prohibition laws.
• Per capita alcohol consumption
dropped sharply.
• Some motivation for temperance- anti-
immigrant bias.
– Common stereotype was that immigrants
drank more than other Americans.
Annual Consumption of Alcohol
Social Reform  Prostitution
The “Fallen Woman”

Sarah Ingraham

1835  Advocate of Moral Reform

Female Moral Reform Society focused
on the “Johns” & pimps, not the girls.
Educational Reform
Religious Training  Secular Education

MA  always on the forefront of public

educational reform
* 1st state to establish tax support for
local public schools.

By 1860 every state offered free public

education to whites.
* US had one of the highest literacy rates.
Horace Mann (1796-1859)
“Father of
American Education”
children were clay in the hands
of teachers and school officials

children should be “molded”

into a state of perfection

discouraged corporal punishment

established state teacher-

training programs
The McGuffey Eclectic

Used religious parables to teach “American values.”

Teach middle class morality and respect for order.

Teach “3 Rs” + “Protestant ethic” (frugality,

hard work, sobriety)
Women Educators
Troy, NY Female Seminary
curriculum: math, physics,
history, geography.
train female teachers

Emma Willard

1837  she established

Mt. Holyoke [So. Hadley, MA]
Mary Lyons
as the first college for women.
Women and Reform
• Women became active in reform- a new
public path
• Often differed in their perspectives
from male reformers
– For example:
• While men typically blamed prostitutes, female
reformers advocated punishing male patrons
and helping prostitutes find decent jobs.
• Temperance groups formed by male
evangelicals (alcohol a sin) and female
reformers (alcohol a threat to families)
highlight these differences.
“Separate Spheres” Concept
“Cult of Domesticity”
A woman’s “sphere” was in the home (it was a
refuge from the cruel world outside).
Her role was to “civilize” her husband and
An 1830s MA minister:
The power of woman is her dependence. A woman who
gives up that dependence on man to become a reformer
yields the power God has given her for her protection,
and her character becomes unnatural!
Early 19c Women
• Unable to vote.
• Legal status of a minor.
• Single  could own her own
• Married  no control over her
property or her children.
• Could not initiate divorce.
• Couldn’t make wills, sign a contract,
or bring suit in court without her
husband’s permission.
What It Would Be Like If
Ladies Had Their Own Way!
Cult of Domesticity = Slavery
The 2nd Great Awakening inspired women
to improve society.

Lucy Stone
Angelina Grimké Sarah Grimké
American Women’s
Suffrage Assoc.
Southern Abolitionists
edited Woman’s Journal
Women’s Rights
1840  split in the abolitionist movement
over women’s role in it.
London  World Anti-Slavery Convention

Lucretia Mott Elizabeth Cady Stanton

1848  Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments

Seneca Falls Declaration
The Abolitionist Movement

William Lloyd Garrison

Abolitionist Movement
1816  American Colonization Society
created (gradual, voluntary

British Colonization Society symbol

Forces Against Slavery
• Quakers- stressed brotherhood of all; their
values inconsistent with slavery.
• Age of Reason- as rationality replaces
revelation, traditional justifications for
slavery no longer so valid
• Great Awakening- all could be saved
• The Revolution- British actions likened to
enslavement; Declaration; fear that British
would use freed blacks.
• Romanticism/Transcendentalism-
emphasis on individuality and ethics.
Forces Against Abolitionism
• Southern economic dependence on the
institution and economic interdependence
of sections.
• Social role of slavery in South
• American political philosophy of
independent states
• White supremacy
• Politicians- issues split parties, so avoided
• Apathy- a remote issue to most Americans
Abolitionist Movement
• Religion crucial to the movement
• Begins with Quakers- but not a
powerful movement because of
religious prohibition on political
• 2nd Great Awakening contributed-
– Selfishness is what sin is; slavery is
ultimate form of selfishness; therefore
slavery is ultimate sin.
Abolitionist Movement
• 1833- American Anti-Slavery Society.
Provided assistance- financial and other- to
those who sought political reform, and to
some underground activities. Religion
integral to their activities. By late 30’s most
Northern states had a branch of this society or
some other.
Abolitionist Movement
• 1830’s- The Liberator, William Lloyd
– Uncompromising
– Moral persuasion by force of argument
– Immediate emancipation

Premiere issue  January 1, 1831

William Lloyd Garrison

Slavery & Masonry

undermined republican
Immediate emancipation
with NO compensation.
Slavery was a moral, not
an economic issue.
Other White Abolitionists

Lewis Tappan
James Birney

Liberty Party.
Ran for President in
1840 & 1844.
Arthur Tappan
Black Abolitionists
David Walker

1829  Appeal to the Coloured

Citizens of the World

Fight for freedom rather than

wait to be set free by whites.
Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)

1845  The Narrative of the Life

Of Frederick Douglass
1847  “The North Star”
Sojourner Truth (1787-1883)
or Isabella Baumfree

1850  The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Harriet Tubman
Helped over 300 slaves
to freedom.
$40,000 bounty on her
Served as a Union spy
during the Civil War.
Leading Escaping Slaves Along
the Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad
Abolitionist Movement
• 30’s-40’s- First “Mass Media
– Mass meetings and rallies; speakers fan out
across the country; former slaves used as
speakers and “exhibits”.
– Mailings
– Petitions to Congress
– Children’s lit., songbooks, adult lit.,
pamphlets, newspapers
– Organized a political party- The Liberty
Abolitionist Map
Anti-Slavery Alphabet
The Tree of Slavery—Loaded with
the Sum of All Villainies!
Major issues for Abolitionists
• Equality?
• Women in the movement.
• Emancipation: immediate or gradual?
• Politics
• Violence
• Colonization- “polite anti-slavery”
• Slavery and slave trade in D.C.
• Internal slave trade in U.S.
• Expansion of slavery into the territories

* Abolitionists divided over some of these

issues. Churches even fell apart.
The Southern reaction
• At first, little reaction. Some abolitionism even
politely accepted among Southerners
• Gradually, politeness gave way to anger and
violence- and South became its own worst enemy.
– gag rule and violence in Congress
– disruption of mails in South to stop Abolitionist
– prices on the heads of Abolitionists
– demands for more rigorous fugitive slave law
– threats of secession
Reaction to the reaction
• Many Northerners saw in the South's
behavior a threat to (white) civil liberties in
America. The First Amendment and other
freedoms seemed in peril. This brought
sympathy by more Notherners for the
movement. The result of this fear was
increasing antagonism between the North
and South, and, as a result, even greater
paranoia by Southern politicians. A
downward spiral was underway.
The End
• By the 1850’s the movement had done
about all it could. The political party had
sputtered (only 0.3% of the vote in 1840
presidential race). The movement
attracted few new recruits. It had made
all of its arguments. But it had put
slavery front and center on the national
agenda, and had attracted sympathy
from previously unsympathetic quarters.
Their battle for the American “soul” had
been important and worthwhile.