History Essay on Reform Movements in the United States

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Harvey Mudd College
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A reform movement refers to the social movement which its main aim is to have a gradual change or improve the societys certain aspect instead of changes that are fundamental and rapid. A reform movement is considered to be different as compared to other types of movements such as the revolutionary movements. Most of the ideas of the reformists were on liberalism or the concepts of religion. Democratic ideals refers to individual qualities or the governments behavior which are considered to help in the continuation of polices that are related to democracy. These Democratic Ideals included religion, women rights, the need for temperance towards economic reforms and abolition which were meant to bring a change in the lives of the people of the United States between 1820 to 1860.The validity of expansion of Democratic Ideals in the United States can be analyzed through three movements which are the womens right movement, the abolitionist movement, and the religious movement. There was another movement on the other hand that did not result in the expansion of the democratic ideals such as the naturalization law movement (Burns, et al).

The Abolition movement consisted of people who were determined to end slavery in the United States. The abolitionists were mainly northern-based. They dealt with individuals who opposed this who were mostly from the southern folk. Some of the reformers involved in this movement were Frederick Douglass who was a slave that had been freed and then later became literate and William Lloyd Garrison who influenced abolitionism in most people. This movement advocated for equality among people of different races whether a black or a white. It aimed towards the achievement of democratic values such as the right to life, liberty and also justice (Robinson). For example, the democratic ideal was expanded when a design was formed by Patrick Reason which helped a black woman who was held in chains and shackles as a slave.

The women right movement was meant to give women certain rights that they were not having while in the United States. Elizabeth Cady Stanton led this movement. For example during the Seneca Falls Declaration held on August 2, in the year 1848 Stanton mainly spoke about the womens rights. She tried to fight for the women rights by saying that the rights were contained in the constitution and that it is a democratic ideal for everyone to be treated equally yet the womens were not given the right to vote during the election days. In this movement, Santon was aiming towards the expansion of equality among the sexes which was a core democratic value. This movement wanted the harsh laws that had been enforced against the women to be abandoned such as the law that gave the men authority to imprison their wives. After this movement, there was the introduction of female suffrage in the United States, and hence this movement helped in the achieving of democratic ideals in the US (Kennedy, et al).

The religious movement which was led by Charles Finney resulted in the establishment of the revival of Protestant which was of great benefit to the entire community. This movement was mainly aiming at reforming and awakening of the drunkards, the infidel's and other individuals in the society who had been abandoned. Finney led great rivals which one was held in Rochester in the year 1830, and another one took place in NYC in the year 1831.This movement helped in the development of Americas evangelical denominations such as Baptist and Methodist. For example, the New York Female Reform Society tried to convert the prostitutes to be evangelical Protestants by closing down houses that were used for prostitution. It helped in the expanding of the democratic ideals through improving the moral standards of the people of United States.

In conclusion, these reform movements contributed towards democratic ideals in that they led to the establishment of improved safety services in the jail and also welfare sector. People of the United States felt the need to spread democracy. The American economy as a result of these reform movement received a significant boost from inventions. Examples of these inventions included cotton gin and also steamboat. The democratic ideals were mostly experienced in the sector of education, women rights, temperance and penal institutions. Housing projects were set up so as to accommodate the poor people in the society.

Works Cited

Burns, Arthur, et al. Rethinking the Age of Reform. Cambridge UP, 2011.

Kennedy, David M, et al. The Brief American Pageant: A History of the Republic. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, 2007.

Robinson, Florence P. Reform Movements of the Thirties and Forties. 1925.

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