Chapter 8 – A Push for Reform
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Chapter 8 – A Push for Reform Section Notes Video A Push for Reform New Movements in America Early Immigration and Urban Reform Women and Reform Fighting against Slavery Maps The Great Irish Famine History Close-up The Underground Railroad Images Quick Facts

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Chapter 8 – A Push for Reform

Section Notes

Video

A Push for Reform

New Movements in America

Early Immigration and Urban Reform

Women and Reform

Fighting against Slavery

Maps

The Great Irish Famine

History Close-up

The Underground Railroad

Images

Quick Facts

McGuffey Reader

Wave of Immigration

Working Conditions

Born into Slavery

Visual Summary: A Push for Reform


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New Movements in America

  • Main Idea

    • A revival in religion in the early 1800s helped lead to an era of reform.

  • Reading Focus

  • How did religion help lead to reform?

  • What role did Horace Mann play in reforming education?

  • What role did Dorothea Dix play in reforming prisons?

  • What are transcendentalism and utopianism?


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    Religion Sparks Reform

    • During the 1820s and 1830s Americans attended revivals and joined churches in record numbers.

    • This religious movement was called the Second Great Awakening.

    • Many preachers preached that through dedication and hard work people could create a kind of heaven on earth.

    • Across the country, tens of thousands of Americans became determined to reform, or reshape, American life.

    • The Second Great Awakening helped launch the Reform Era.

    • From 1830 until 1860, many Americans attempted to reshape American society.

    • They were called reformers.


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    Religion Sparks Reform

    • One of the main goals of the temperance movement reformers was to reduce the use of alcoholic beverages.

    • Reformers wrote books, plays, and songs about the evils of alcohol, which they linked to sickness, poverty, and the breakup of families.

    • In 1851 reformers persuaded legislators in the state of Maine to outlaw alcohol.

    • Over the next several years, some 12 states followed suit.


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    Religion Sparks Reform

    • Education reformers organized themselves and began the common-school movement to extend and improve public schools.

    • The greatest school reformer of the Reform Era was Horace Mann, who advocated a new, highly organized approach to education.

    • Education reform did nothing to help Native American children or African American children.

    • Mann’s school-reform efforts laid the groundwork for education in the United States to the present day.


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    Reforming Prisons

    • Dorothea Dix was a reformer who campaigned for humane treatment of prisoners and the mentally ill.

    • Moved by Dix’s plea, the Massachusetts legislature created state-supported institutions to house and treat mentally ill people separate from criminals.

    • Dix and her supporters convinced other state governments to create similar institutions.

    • Before Dix began her work, there were no professional treatment centers in the United States for the mentally ill.

    • By the time of her death, more than 100 such institutions were built across the country.


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    Transcendentalism and Utopianism

    • Transcendentalist movement: members of this movement believed in a philosophy called transcendentalism.

    • Transcendentalism is the belief that knowledge is found not only by observation of the world but also through reason, intuition, and personal spiritual experiences.

    • Two leading transcendentalists were Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

    • Both expressed the transcendental belief that people should be self-reliant and trust their intuition.


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    Transcendentalism and Utopianism

    • Thoreau held that people should act according to their own beliefs, even if they had to break the law.

    • Another reform movement of this era was the utopian movement.

    • Some reformers believed in creating new communities that would be free of social ills.

    • These communities became known as utopian communities, after the word utopia, which means “a perfect society.”


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    Early Immigration and Urban Reform

    • Main Idea

    • A wave of Irish and German immigrants entered the United States during a period of urbanization and reform.

    • Reading Focus

    • Why did many Irish and Germans immigrate to the United States in the 1840s and 1850s?

    • What was life in the United States like for the new immigrants?

    • How did urbanization and industrialization lead to reform?


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    Irish and German Immigrants

    • Since the 1700s, the poor people of Ireland had relied on the potato as their staple, or major, food crop.

    • From 1845 to 1849, a disease, or blight, struck the crop, severely restricting the potato harvest.

    • Deprived of their primary food source and receiving little relief from the ruling British government, Ireland’s poor faced starvation.

    • By 1850 about 1 million had died during the Great Irish Famine.

    • Desperate to save themselves and their families, about 1.5 million of them settled in the United States.


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    Irish and German Immigrants

    • Like the Irish, many Germans were fleeing conditions in their homeland.

    • Some fled economic depression and overpopulation, which made jobs scarce.

    • Others left to escape religious persecution, harsh tax laws, or military service.

    • Still others fled their country after a revolution in 1848 failed.

    • Many Germans came to the United States in search of free land and business opportunities.

    • Push-pull model of immigration: factors that cause people to leave their homeland are “pushes,” and factors that cause people to move to a particular country are called “pulls.”


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    The Lives of Immigrants

    • Many immigrant groups to the United States have faced discrimination.

    • As the number of Irish immigrants grew, so too did these feelings of nativism, or opposition to immigration.

    • But the influx of a huge number of poor, Catholic, Irish immigrants in such a short time changed many Americans’ views.

    • They began to regard immigrants as a threat to their way of life.


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    The Lives of Immigrants

    • Nearly as many Germans as Irish immigrated to the United States in the mid-1800s.

    • Fortunately for the Germans, they did not encounter the same hostility that greeted Irish immigrants.

    • Most German immigrants were middle class and Protestant.

    • They could afford to travel far inland, seeking free or cheap land, reunions with relatives, or other opportunities in the heartland.

    • German immigrants worked as farmers, artisans, factory workers, and in other occupations.


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    Reform, Urbanization, and Industrialization

    • By the mid-1800s, large American cities were home to some tremendously wealthy people.

    • The vast majority of urban Americans, however, were very poor.

    • Many city-dwellers lived in tenements, or poorly made, crowded apartment buildings.

    • Lacked adequate light, ventilation, and sanitation

      • They were very unhealthy places to live.

    • Disease spread rapidly in the crowded conditions.


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    Reform, Urbanization, and Industrialization

    • In some cities, local boards of health were established to set sanitation rules.

    • Enforcement was often uneven, and the poorer neighborhoods received less attention than richer ones.

    • Local reform societies reached only a fraction of those who needed help.

    • For the most part, the poor of America’s large cities fended for themselves, helping their families, neighbors, and friends as best they could.

    • Serious efforts at reforming cities would not begin until late in the century.


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    Reform, Urbanization, and Industrialization

    • Previously, most Americans had worked on farms.

      • Worked for themselves, kept the profits they earned, and made much of what they needed

    • American factory workers were wage earners who were paid a set amount by business owners.

    • Using their limited wages, they had to buy the things they needed from merchants in the city where they lived.

    • A new social class arose: the urban working class.

      • Most of them were poor and uneducated.

      • Many were immigrants.

    • Business owners wanted to maximize their profits.

      • Resulted in low wages, long hours, and unsafe working conditions for workers


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    Reform, Urbanization, and Industrialization

    • In the 1820s, workers began to organize into groups to demand higher wages, shorter hours, and safer working conditions.

    • Labor movement: efforts by workers to improve their situation

    • Skilled workers, such as carpenters and masons, formed organizations to regulate their pay.

    • In 1834 several smaller groups united to form the National Trades Union in New York City.

    • The labor movement faced fierce opposition from business owners and many government officials.


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    Reform, Urbanization, and Industrialization

    • The Ten-Hour Movement: a labor reform campaign to limit the working day to 10 hours from the more common 12 hours or more

    • By 1840, all federal employees received a 10-hour workday.

    • In the mid-1840s, New Hampshire became the first state to limit the workday to 10 hours. Other states followed New Hampshire’s example.

    • Despite this success, laborers remained very much at the whim of business owners. It would be decades before they made substantial progress in improving their work conditions.


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    Women and Reform

    • Main Idea

    • After leading reform movements to help others, some American women began to work on behalf of themselves.

    • Reading Focus

    • What limits were placed on women’s lives in the early 1800s?

    • What role did women play in the movements of the Reform Era?

    • Why was the Seneca Falls Convention important?


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    Limits on Women’s Lives

    • Legal limits

    • With few exceptions, women could not vote or hold public office.

    • Other than marriage, they could not enter into legal contracts.

    • When married couples with children divorced, the law awarded custody of the children to the father.

    • Economic limits

    • With few exceptions, married women could not own property.

    • More than 60,000 industrial workers were women.

      • Wages were low.

      • The wages of married women were legally the property of their husbands.

      • Single women were expected to turn over their earnings to their families.


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    Limits on Women’s Lives

    • Widely held views

    • Women were inferior to men.

    • Women should attend only to household and family duties—and to their husbands.

    • Matters of business, government, and politics should be handled by men.

    • “A woman’s place is in the home” became a more widespread belief during the Industrial Revolution.

    • Family life was threatened by taking women out of the household to work.

    • Cult of domesticity: This movement urged women to remain in the home environment. Books and magazines praised the virtues of women staying at home, caring for their families, and obeying their husbands.


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    Women in the Reform Era

    • Women formed church societies that served as extensions of their church work.

    • Some of these groups evolved into reform societies—groups that were organized to promote social reforms.

    • The New York Female Reform Society was formed in 1834 to promote moral reform or good behavior.

    • Many similar groups were formed throughout the Northeast.

    • Society members would visit poor neighborhoods, almshouses, jails, and other places to provide religious instruction and encouragement.

    • Some members established homes for girls and women in need.


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    Women in the Reform Era

    • Women led the movement to reform education.

    • Catharine Beecher ran a school for women, the Hartford Female Seminary, in Massachusetts. Later, she opened the Western Female Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    • Beecher worked to create normal schools and to send teachers west to educate frontier children.

    • Oberlin College in Ohio became the first American college to welcome women as well as men in 1833.

    • In 1837 Mary Lyon established the first women’s college in the United States, Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

    • Many women became teachers during the Reform Era.

    • This gave them a fundamental role in shaping American life.


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    Women in the Reform Era

    • Urban reforms during the Reform Era were implemented largely by female reform societies.

    • Women’s contributions to the labor movement arose from their firsthand experiences as workers.

    • Some of the earliest labor strikes were held by women who were trying to improve their working conditions.

    • Many participants in the temperance movement were women.

    • Because women were economically dependent on men, they and their children were often the victims of men’s excessive alcohol consumption.


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    The Seneca Falls Convention

    • The Seneca Falls Convention was held in July 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York.

    • It was the first women’s rights convention held in America.

    • Many historians mark it as the beginning of the modern American women’s movement.


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    The Seneca Falls Convention

    • Political power

    • Many women wanted to obtain political power in order to advance their reforms.

    • Other women thought that political power should be available to women because it was fair and reasonable.

    • The time was right for women—who had long worked to improve the lives of others—to fight to improve their own lives.


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    The Seneca Falls Convention

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the Seneca Falls Convention.

    • Mott was a prominent abolitionist.

    • Stanton, like Mott, was also a dedicated and experienced abolitionist.

    • Mott and Stanton were motivated by their experiences of discrimination at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840.


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    Elizabeth Cady Stantonand Lucretia Mottcalled a convention on behalf of women’s rights.

    Held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York

    Attended by about 300 people

    The Seneca Falls Convention

    • Produced the Declaration of Sentiments

    • Written by Stanton and signed by 100 participants—68 women and 32 men

    • It publicly stated their belief that “all men and women are created equal.”


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    Fighting against Slavery

    • Main Idea

    • The movement to end slavery dominated the Reform Era.

    • Reading Focus

    • What was life like for enslaved African Americans in the South?

    • How did people in the South fight against slavery?

    • What were the major developments in the abolition movement?


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    The Lives of Enslaved African Americans

    • Including the colonial period, slavery had been an American institution for two centuries.

    • Enslaved African Americans were held in every colony, northern and southern.

    • In the North, slavery continued to exist in some form until the 1840s.

    • By 1860 nearly 4 million African Americans lived in slavery in the South.


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    The Lives of Enslaved African Americans

    • Enslaved men, women, and children worked every day of their lives, from the time they were old enough to perform chores until they were too old to be of any more use to the slaveholder.

    • Most enslaved people lived on farms or plantations in the South, where cotton was a leading crop.

    • They worked planting, tending, picking, processing, and loading cotton.

    • Other jobs included the many other tasks needed to maintain a farm or plantation, such as constructing and repairing buildings.

    • Other plantation slaves worked as servants in the slaveholder’s house.


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    The Lives of Enslaved African Americans

    • Some enslaved people were skilled artisans, and many worked as blacksmiths, bricklayers, or carpenters.

    • Some slaves lived in cities where they worked in factories and mills, in offices, and in homes.

    • Others worked in mines or in the forest as lumberjacks.


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    The Lives of Enslaved African Americans

    • A life of want

    • Enslaved African Americans were provided with inadequate food, clothing, and shelter.

    • They seldom received medical care; sickness rarely stopped their work.

    • They had no rights under the law because it viewed them as property.


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    The Lives of Enslaved African Americans

    • Many slaveholders treated their slaves relatively well. But they generally did so in order to secure loyal service, not out of any great sense of humanity.

    • Some slaveholders used a wide variety of punishments, such as beating, whipping, starving, and threatening a person’s family members, to ensure obedience.

    • Children were routinely separated from their parents, brothers from their sisters, and husbands from their wives.

    • African Americans developed ways to survive and bring some light into their lives through religion, storytelling, and music.


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    The Antislavery Movement in the South

    • In 1860, about 215,000 African Americans in the South were free blacks.

      • Former slaves who had been emancipated, or freed, by slaveholders

      • More typically, some were free because their ancestors had been freed.

    • They still faced harsh legal and social discrimination.

    • Free blacks aided people escaping slavery and spoke out for freedom.

    • Slave revolts

    • An uprising led by Nat Turner in 1830 became the deadliest slave revolt in American history.

    • New laws were enacted to strictly limit the movements and meetings of slaves.


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    The Antislavery Movement in the South

    • Some enslaved people chose a nonviolent way to end their enslavement—they escaped.

    • They tried to reach the free states of the North or Canada or Mexico, where slavery was illegal.

    • No one knows exactly how many slaves escaped.

    • Thousands attempted escape, and although most were soon captured, many did make it to freedom.

    • Underground Railroad: an informal, constantly changing network of escape routes

    • Sympathetic white people and free blacks provided escapees with food, hiding places, and directions to their next destination, closer to free territory.

    • Harriet Tubman: famous Underground Railroad worker who had escaped slavery and helped hundreds of slaves to freedom


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    The Abolition Movement

    • The abolition movement was a campaign to abolish, or end, slavery.

    • No other movement attracted as many followers, garnered as much attention, elicited such strong feelings, or had such an impact on the history of the United States.

    • The abolition movement had deep roots in religion.

    • Many religious people in the North saw slavery as a clear moral wrong that went directly against their beliefs.

    • By 1836 more than 500 antislavery societies existed.


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    Abolition leaders

    William Lloyd Garrison: published an abolitionist newspaper for 35 years, until slavery was abolished

    Sarah and Angelina Grimké: sisters who were outspoken campaigners for abolition and women’s rights

    Frederick Douglass: a former slave,supported women’s rights, but is best remembered as an abolitionist leader

    The Abolition Movement

    Opposing abolition

    • Southern slaveholders: an attack on their livelihood, their way of life, and even on their religion

    • Slaveholders and politicians: slavery was essential to the economy; by 1860 cotton accounted for about 55 percent of the country’s exports

    • Northern workers: freedom for slaves might mean more competition for jobs



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