Antebellum is a Latin term that means "before the war." Antebellum culture in America reflected the growing sectional crisis and was the time period before the American Civil War, which began in 1861. The revivalism that spread across the country during the antebellum era also gave rise to numerous social reform movements, which challenged Americans to improve themselves and their communities. Some of these social groups included women and slaves. The greatest reform came in the area of abolitionism. The attempts to end slavery became more intense. People such as ex-slave Frederick Douglas were essential in the spread of the abolitionism movement. Also, William Lloyd Garrison founded the Liberator, a newspaper that rapidly spread the word about abolition. These two men publicly opposed slavery and demanded freedom for blacks and full equality. Books like Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, incensed the northerners because of its inhumane characterization of slavery and slave owners. Free blacks organized to oppose colonization and were willing to fight for their freedom. After the American Revolution, people were proud of the freedom they had won. They thought that free people could make themselves better people. This idea led many to turn to religious camp meetings in the 1820s and 1830s. This religious movement was called the Second Great Awakening and its leading minister was Charles Grandison Finney. Revivalism appeared to the middle class as well as the working class. Women, however, played important roles in the Awakening, and this led to changes in their social lives. Instead of parents arranging the marriages of their children, couples began to wed based on affection towards one another. A woman’s prospects for marriage became the base for uncertainty and the unpredictability of these social circumstances led many women to religion. Joining a church heightened a women’s sense of purpose and by establishing...
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