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During the time period of 1825-1850, ideals of equality, liberty and pursuit of happiness that defined democrat were inculcated into the masses of America through a series of reform movements that emerged in the antebellum era. Based on the desire to make America a civilized, utopian society and religious revivals adequately expanded the democratic ideals by bettering the moral standard of common men, while movement among women and slaves tried to put principle of liberty on the table.
Ranged from temperance, abolition, nativism to public schools and good living conditions, on some extent not all the reform movement pursuited the mean of democratic. While the reform in education and nativist appeared to be incomplete or opposed of the democratic idea, many others such as the women movement had strongly reinforced the sense of morality and equality through struggles for social justice, status and desire to create a more productive, civilized society.
The Education and nativist reform movement on some extent is incomplete or opposed to the democratic idea.
The Second Awakening reinforced the idea of tolerance and acceptance for all, while the belief of Nativism held people back from embracing the ideas of Second Great Awakening. Nativism contributed to the belief that only Protestants should be allowed suffrage. The one supporter of Nativism was Samuel Morse. In document D, Dangers to the Free Institution of the United State, written in 1835, he stated “ no foreign who come into the country after law is passed shall ever be allowed the right of suffrage”.
In this statement, Samuel Morse is directly opposing the naturalizing law, which is a democratic reform in order to give more right to foreigner. Morse’s strong antiforeignism, like many others, was a direct opposition toward the democratic idea of equality which activists tried to set in place. Unlike the nativism movement, the education reform did sought to expand the democratic ideal but was not completely democratic. In document E, a passage from McGufffrey Reader, it supported the ideal that all people deserve to go out and get an education.
But universal education appealed only addressing the white male, women had limit effect in such a reform. Black slave in the south also were legally forbidden to receive in the instruction of reading or writing, and even the free blacks were excluded from the school. Also the taxation for education was premium that the wealthy paid the stability and democracy, and it used to control mind of the mess poor “brats”. The Education reform and nativist movement appeared to be slightly democratic or completely opposed toward the principle of democratic.
The women and slavery reforms sought to expand democratic ideal by struggle for social justice and sense of equality. New fight for female were aroused by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in August 2,1848, in document I the Seneca fall of Declaration stated “all men and women are created equal” which illustrate her powerful idea of expanding democracy not only man but to women as well. For the first time, the women made it clear a move was needed to expand representation in a government that guaranteed equality to the higher level. She and other women fought democratic expansion in the area of feminism.
In 1835, Patrick Reason created an engraving depicting a black female slave cage in chain with quote “Am I not a women and sister. ” (Document C). This work ties in justice of both abolition and women’s suffrage, both were being reforms in earlier half of the 19th century. Likewise spurred from women movement, the most controversial abolitionism reform also achieved another victory for the expansion of democracy. In 1813, William Loyd Garrison launched an abolitionist newspaper. To spread the abolition fervor, he also found the New England Anti-slavery Society in 1833.
In their argument for immediate emancipation of slaves, and equal rights revolution, abolitionist opened a new page in radical ideas. Struggle with justice and their own social statue, these abolitionists took great courage and leadership, for slavery was either against moral beliefs or violated their own right, arose a new sense of equality revolt the polarity of repression. As the outcries of liberty, freedom and equality growing in many part of north, the reform movement led by slave and women made U. S’S democratic ideals expanded tremendously.
The temperance movement and evangelic movement based on the desire to created a productive and civilize society would contributed greatly toward the principle of democratic. The Temperance movement began in 1826 as the alcohol was become increasingly widespread, affecting the efficiency of the labor. An 1846 cartoon entitled “The Drunkard Progress’ shows what a detrimental effect alcohol had on life of the common laborer. Likewise, the temperance reform was an effort to stop this abuse and to urge all people to give up the alcohol.
Main law of 1851 was passed which banned the alcohol. The passing of this law not just protect women and children physically safe due to the decrease of abuse, it also appeared supported the democratic principle that every man was equal and productive in his own right, as long as the government protected from immoralities. Like the spirit of anti-alcohol movement, the evangelic movement helped expand democratic ideal by creating higher standard for all common men. As written by Charlers G.
Finny, “When the churches awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow. ” Finney further stated that “drunkard, harlot and infidel” could also participate in this higher standard of life for the common man if they reformed by the church. In Finny’s document, the democratic principle that all men are created equal clearly shows a sense of tolerance and acceptance. Holding on the principle of equality, during evangelical movement, churches were divided when they faced the slavery issue.
Most churches joined the anti-slavery movement to heighten public awareness and to influence social political policy. It is democratic because they believed that slavery is a great national sin and also of the church. Such a reform, especially for women was able was provided a unique opportunity to enter the arena of public affairs. Base on the desire to create a more civilize society, both temperance and evangelical movement created a higher moral standard against the inhumanity, injustice and intolerance.
In the period from 1825-1850, a majority of the reform movements in United States sought to expand democratic ideals. Many reflected the liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness all lie in American Declaration of Independence that define the mean of democratic, despite some like education reforms and nativist movement appeared to be incomplete or opposed to the such principle. In conclusion, the reform movements had reinforced the democratic ideals through struggles for social justice, statue and the desire to create a more productive, civilized society.