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THE FIRES OF PERFECTION. Culture and Reform American History through 1865. Two basic impulses: Optimistic faith in human nature Desire for order and control New Types of Literature & Art Romanticism Nationalism Attempts at reconnecting religion to social life 2nd Great Awakening

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the fires of perfection


Culture and Reform

American History through 1865

what are the sources of america s attempts at reform
Two basic impulses:

Optimistic faith in human nature

Desire for order and control

New Types of Literature & Art



Attempts at reconnecting religion to social life

2nd Great Awakening

Utopian societies/New religious movements

New Social Movements

Constructing a place for women in American society

Underlying all change - Why this reform movement at this time?

What are the sources of America’s attempts at reform?
how was society changing that resulted in reform movements
Or, Why this thing at this time?

Sudden rise in immigration - especially foreign born



So, what is being changed or reformed?


Later – smaller groupings in society




Economic system


How was society changing that resulted in reform movements?
from perfecting society to perfecting portions of society
New communities & New Religions

Oneida - Shakers - Ann Lee

Mormons – Joseph Smith/Brigham Young

Socialists - New Harmony - Robert Owen

Transcendentalism- Brook Farm

Reforming social ills


Public Health


Reforming or creating institutions


Free public education

Women’s institutions









Pennsylvania System

From perfecting society to perfecting portions of society
how did we express ourselves
How did we express ourselves?
  • Art
  • Literature
  • Romanticism
  • Naturalism
  • Expressions of the reforming impulse
american romanticism
American Romanticism
  • Emerson and Transcendentalism
    • Transcendentalist ideas
    • Emergence of American literature
  • The Clash between Nature and Civilization
      • Cooper and wilderness
      • Thoreau and individualism
  • Songs of the Self-Reliant and Darker Loomings
      • Whitman and democracy
      • Melville and nature’s destructive power

Thomas Cole

The Course of Empire:

The Pastoral State

Catskill Scenery

  • Washington Irving
  • James Fenimore Cooper
  • Walt Whitman
  • Herman Melville
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Beverly Tucker
  • William Alexander Caruthers
  • Augustus B. Longstreet
  • Mark Twain
utopian thought

creating a spiritual movement outside of church with the assistance of ministers

transform society via the individual rather than via institutions

Reason & Understanding

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott

Brook Farm

George Ripley

Destroyed by fire 1847

Charles Fourier


Utopian Thought
religious reforms
Religious Reforms
  • The 2nd Great Awakening
    • Charles Grandison Finney
    • ideal of perfectionism
  • Mormons
  • Shakers
  • Overlapping issues
    • reform society
    • social reform results in individual improvement
    • individual improvement results in perfect societies
revivalism and the social order
Revivalism and the Social Order
  • Finney’s New Measures
    • Charles Finney
    • Conversion experience
  • The Philosophy of the New Revivals
    • Free will and perfectionism
    • Transformation of Protestantism
  • Religion and the Market Economy
      • Finney’s Rochester revival
      • Revivalism’s appeal to the middle class
      • Workers and church membership
  • Revivalism and the Social Order
    • The Significance of the Second Great Awakening
      • Evangelicalism bolsters individualism and equality
revivalism and the social order13
Revivalism and the Social Order

The Rise of African American Churches

Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Library of Congress

break then what are the sources of america s reforms
What were the two basic impulses of reform and how did they appear to contradict each other?

What were the new Types of Literature & Art appearing in America? How do they reflect a new idea of who we were?

What were the various attempts at reconnecting religion to social life? What other attempts at communal reform took place during this period?

Underlying all change - Why this reform movement at this time?

Going on - What was the woman’s and the African-American’s (and other non-whites) place in American society?

Break then,What are the sources of America’s reforms?
women s sphere
Women’s Sphere
  • Women and Revivalism
    • Women’s changing lives
  • The Ideals of Domesticity
    • “Sisterhood” and social networks
  • The Middle-Class Family in Transition
    • Decline in the birthrate
rise of feminism
Rise of Feminism
  • 1830s & 1840s – period of rising anti-woman legislation in the north but increasing pro-woman legislation in the south
  • Why this time?
    • Industrialization
    • Competition for jobs
    • Immigration
  • Women reformers
    • Grimké sisters
    • Beecher sisters
    • Lucretia Mott
    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
    • Dorothea Dix
the women s sphere
Womens’ lives in the 1830 defined by:

work, domesticity, education, religion, sisterhood

Cult of domesticity-

leisured (middle) class women vs. working class women

entangles women in changes in the work place/where work & business are conducted

moves women out of the public sphere and into the private (women’s sphere)

domestication of the family

Where could women exercise a public role?


school/children’s institutions

caring for the poor, sick, insane, imprisoned

The women’s sphere
organizations impetus for female reform
Organizations & Impetus for female reform
  • Troy Female Seminary, 1821
  • Hartford Female Seminary, 1823
  • World Anti-Slavery Conference, London, 1840
  • Seneca Falls Convention, 1848
    • Declaration of Sentiments
  • The Beginnings of the Abolitionist Movement
    • Free blacks oppose colonization
    • Garrison’s immediatism
  • The Spread of Abolitionism
      • Geography of abolitionism
      • Lane Seminary rebellion
      • Black abolitionists
  • Opponents and Divisions
      • Divisions among abolitionists
  • Abolitionism
    • The Schism of 1840
initial abolitionists

William Lloyd Garrison - radical

The Liberator, 1831

Theodore Dwight Weld - moderate

American Anti-Slavery Society, 1833

Escaped slaves

Frederick Douglass

Harriet Tubman


Sarah Grimké, Angelina Grimké, James Birney

Initial Abolitionists
white abolitionists
White Abolitionists
  • Early opposition – repatriation of slaves
    • ACS – American Colonization Society
  • Gradual Abolition (Gradualism)
    • Benjamin Lundy – Genius of Universal Emancipation
  • Immediate Abolition
    • William Lloyd Garrison & The Liberator
    • American Antislavery Society (AAS)
    • Theodore Dwight Weld
black abolitionists
Black Abolitionists
  • David Walker, Boston, 1829 “Walker’s Appeal . . .to the Colored Citizens”
    • “kill or be killed”
  • Frederick Douglass
    • Newspaper – North Star
    • Biography – Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
anti abolition
  • Dangerous & threatening
  • Increasing violence against abolitionists
    • Garrison, Boston, MA, 1835
    • Elijah Lovejoy, Alton, IL, 1837
  • Extreme response to militant action?
abolition divided
Abolition Divided
  • Growing radicalism of Garrison
    • Split AAS in 1840
    • 1843 – called for disunion from south over slavery
    • Embracing violence
  • Moderate position
    • “moral suasion”
    • Amistad case
  • Rise of the Liberty Party – 1840
    • James G. Birney
    • Free soil not abolition
  • Publications
    • American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839)
    • Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851-52)
women s roles in the reform movements
Leaders - but they couldn’t speak in public

Lucretia Mott (abolition then women’s rights)

Liaisons to other movements

Sarah Grimké, Angelina Grimké (abolition, education, and women’s rights)

Created new movements

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Seneca Falls convention (1848)

Exceptions - when women were caring for others

Dorthea Dix

Women’s roles in the reform movements
reform shakes the party system
Reform Shakes the Party System
  • Women and the Right to Vote

“Why shall [women] be left only the poor resource of petition? For even petitions, when they are from women, without the elective franchise to give them backbone, are but of little consequence.”

-The Lily

reform shakes the party system28
Reform Shakes the Party System
  • The Maine Law
    • Struggle over prohibition
  • Abolitionism and the Party System
      • Censorship of the mails
      • Gag rule
overarching relationships
Lyman Beecher and the Lane Seminary


Political reform

Making the private public

Overarching relationships