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DBQ: Reform movements in the United States (1825-1850)

In the duration of time between the years 1825-1850, many reform movements were occurring as American citizens fought for the reformation of many laws and institutions. There was the temperance movement, aimed toward lessening alcohol consumption, and the women's rights movement that struggled with the task of equality for women in society and politics. Prison and church reform were also popular causes as people observed the injustices in prisons and viewed certain churches with disdain while American's sought a different salvation and turned to revivals and camp meetings. Although slavery was considered a popular and frequent reform during 1825 through 1850, democratic ideals were the main factor that controlled the social setting of 1825-1850.

First, the temperance movement of this time was the result of disgusted citizens and abused wives. As seen in document H, drunkards were not thought highly of, and though wives were still struggling for equality, society did not look kindly on the drunken husband who beat his family. By the reformer's propaganda and rallies, democratic ideals were strengthened as people left their personal lives and fought to enlighten the government and others of the problems resulting from alcohol. These reformers often included most church reformers. The church reformers were not only anti-alcohol, they also found fault with the current status of most churches during this time. The Second Great Awakening, series of religious revivals, was accompanied by revival meetings, the erection of new churches, and the founding of colleges and universities; it was part of the impetus behind the other reform movements. The Second Great Awakening also raised the moral standard in the society. Charles G. Finney was one of the educated Presbyterians who dominated revivals in the East and spread the idea that the reformation of church will bring the salvation of sinners and reformation of all the abandoned characters in the society. Charles G. Finney and many of other religious leaders convinced thousands to repent their sins and join churches. The Mormons or the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, founded by Joseph Smith established a high organized, centrally controlled system, which provided security and order for the faithful. Also, they held a strong belief in human perfectibility.

Secondly, the movements for equal rights and protecting liberties of different social groups expanded the democratic ideal that based solely on the equalitarianism. In the 1830s, the anti-slavery movement increased. William Lloyd Garrison started his paper, The Liberator, and began advocate total and immediate emancipation. Many abolitionists like Garrison led such influential anti-slavery movements to change the mind of people in the nation about the abolishing slavery and give equal rights to blacks. Women in the 1830s began fighting for their rights that revolved around the conviction that differences of gender were unimportant and incidental. In the Seneca Falls, New York, meeting in 1848, and its Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, women asserted that all men and women are created equal and whatever is right for man is right for woman also. In Document I, through a picture of a kneeling slave woman imploring, "Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?" Garrison tried to stress the peculiar degradation of women under slavery. It showed how female slaves were treated with the worst cruelty in the society and sought to provide them with better treatments and living standard. Women



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