Reform Movement in the United States Essay
Reform Movement in the United States
The protestant revival movement that began in the 1790s in New England caused reforms in America. Between 1825 and 1850, the United States government made reforms that greatly increased the influence of democratic ideals: universal suffrage and individual rights. Such reforms included prisons, churches, women suffrage, temperance, and education.
Prison reforms expanded democratic ideals through the change in policies and mission statements. Debtor prisons were abolished, the number of capitol crimes was reduced, and prison became a place of reform as well as punishment. As shown in document A, the Fourth Annual Report, Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in the City of New York, 1829, stated, “To confine these youthful criminals . . . where little can be leaned but the ways of the wicked.” It is saying that the prisons originally were bad and that reforming people would be useless and therefore the reform of the prisons would fix this problem and therefore be able to save individual rights and become clean.
Church reforms also expanded democratic ideals through allowing freedom of religion and expansion of different sects. As Charles G. Finney in 1834 said, “When the churches are . . . awakened and reformed . . . the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow.” He is saying that because the church reformed, the people will reform in the same way. Therefore, by using this information, one can say that because the church’s rights were more readily expressed, the people would also have more individual rights.
Woman suffrage was the most dominate traits that greatly increased the democratic ideals of United States. As woman rights began to increase, women showed that they were more independent as shown through the cult of domesticity. Women were original similar to the status of slaves because they had no voice. This is shown in the engraving by Patrick Reason in 1835 where a woman is in shackles. It shows the original status of women which changes slightly to more universal suffrage in America.
Temperance also expanded democratic ideals in that it gave people more rights to form what they felt was correct. Because it was lead by women, a group of society usually suppressed, it was unique in that women started to voice their opinions. In the painting “The Drunkards Progress, From the First Glass to the Grave” in 1846, it shows that women were most affected by it and that they were motivated to change it. Women were able to speak out and affect the world and that shows individual rights.
Education also played a role in expanding democratic ideals. Education was improved through new textbooks, publicized, and improved teaching training facilities increase the average education of the masses. This created a more knowledgeable mass and therefore universal male suffrage was more possible.
Through the reforms of prisons, churches, women suffrage, temperance, and education, democratic ideals were expanded. Democratic ideals of universal suffrage and individual rights were spread throughout America. The reforms between 1825 and 1850 expanded democratic ideals.