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Reform Movements and Utopian Societies. Questions for today: How did 19 th -century Americans seek to improve their society? How were their efforts at odds with one another?. Outline 1) Growing Middle Class 2) Second Great Awakening 3) Middle-class reform: - Temperance

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Reform Movements and Utopian Societies

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Reform movements and utopian societies l.jpg

Reform Movements and Utopian Societies


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Questions for today:

How did 19th-century Americans seek to improve their society?

How were their efforts at odds with one another?

Outline

1) Growing Middle Class

2) Second Great Awakening

3) Middle-class reform:

- Temperance

- Stop prostitution

4) Utopian communities:

New Harmony, Indiana

Brook Farm, Mass.

Oneida, NY


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1. Growing Middle Class

  • Work ethic: sober, reliable

  • Cult of Domesticity: Women as moral guardians

  • Separate spheres


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Godey’s Lady’s Book (1850, 1851)


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2. Second Great AwakeningCharles B. Finney,Evangelical preacher

  • Perfectionism

  • Conformity through reform

  • Only moral standard: Protestant middle class


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3. Middle Class Reform: Temperance Movement

  • Alcoholism causes domestic violence

  • Techniques of revivalism


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“The Temperance “The Drunkard’sHome” (1850) Home”


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The Bottle (1848)


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Successes of Temperance Movement:

  • Reduced alcohol consumption

  • Helped fight violence against women

  • Women engaged in public activity


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Crusade against Prostitution

  • Female Moral Reform Society

  • Attacked the sexual double standard

  • Homes of Refuge

  • Causes: poverty and male demand


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4. Utopian communities


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1820-1860: wide range of experiments

  • Liberal: reform can reduce the worst aspects of capitalism (poverty)

  • Radical: capitalism has flaws that reform cannot fix. A new society is needed.


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New Harmony, Indiana, 1825-1827Robert Owen Frances Wright


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New Harmony, Indiana

  • Cooperation, not competition

  • Full racial equality

  • No marriage. “Free love”

  • Make birth control and divorce available


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Brook Farm, Mass., 1841-1846

  • Both intellectual and manual labor

  • Transcendentalism:

    • Reality above everyday lives

  • Individualism


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Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Mystical unity of nature

  • An original relation to the universe

  • Self-reliance (not organized religion)


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Henry David Thoreau

  • “To live deliberately”

  • Individualism: a different drummer

  • What is a life well lived?


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Oneida Community, NY, 1848-1881John Humphrey Noyes

  • Perfectionism

  • Complex marriages

  • Outside the law

  • Strict rules about sex


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Oneida: children’s house


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Oneida: mansion


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Oneida: group photo


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Noyes in later years


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Oneida Silverware


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A vast array of proposals

  • Middle-class values: self-discipline, work

  • Self-determination (free love, no racism)

  • Complete individualism

  • Authoritarian structures

  • Competing assumptions about human nature


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