Reform Movements in the United States Sought to Expand Democratic Ideals." Assess the Validity of This Statement with Specific Reference to the Years 1825 to 1850.

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As Americans entered an era of transition and instability, they sought to expand democratic ideals in the society. In response to sudden changes occurring and traditional values being challenged, various reform movements during 1825-1850 began to focus on democratic ideals. The rise of religious revivals, movements for equal rights and protecting liberties of different social groups, want to advance society technologically, and desire to bring order and control helped reform the society to live up to the nation’s founding ideals. Teaching them (I don’t get who “them” is) the habits of thrift, orderliness, temperance and industry was a way to not only better their lives but a way to instill certain democratic values and advance the perfection of society as a whole. The rise of popular religion and a series of religious revivals reinforced American democracy and liberty. The Second Great Awakening was a huge religious reform movement that sought to re-captivate religious interest in America. One of its new breakthroughs is its representation of democratic ideas, or: “a reworking of traditional religious institutions to better match the average American’s sensibilities and frontier lifestyles (Second Great Awakening).” In this attempt to capture interest, this new theology differed from the previous Calvinist viewpoint that people’s predestined path to heaven or hell could only be altered by God’s choosing, in that the new theology emphasized individual free will, and equality in God’s eyes- a characteristic of democracy. These new theologies emphasized: “human choice. Reform of the individual human heart and also broader social institutions was indeed possible (Second Great Awakening).” Church ministers were elected and churches believed in a “priesthood of all believers.” Such religious reforms sought to expand democratic ideals into the churches. The theology of the Second Great Awakening can be divided into many different subdivisions which all spread out and became part of many reform movements to come. Before examining such future movements, it must be noted that The Progress of the Age was also a reform movement that spread democratic ideals of around the same time frame as the Second Great Awakening. The Progress of the Age empowers all the new American technologies and social reforms in its time (around 1825-1846). New technological reforms included adapting the time conserving sewing machine, and harnessing the potential of the locomotive. Religion, politics, the economy, and virtually everything else in America was being influenced by technological reforms, turning life in American as something Senator Webster describes: “The world has seen nothing like [it] before (A Discourse, Delivered at Plymouth 61).” The significance of all these technological advances lies in the inevitable social advances they initiated. The Progress of the Age focused on improving everyday life with the adaption of machine labor, allowing for: a large range of agricultural goods for the common man, increasingly cheaper goods, less expensive books/newspapers, and faster travel. As these technological revolutions led to revolutions in habits, opinions, and moral values, people began to realize: “If machinery could be brought to such a state of perfection, why not society (Maier 369)?” With all the social ideas related to technological progress, none were associated with the Progression of the Age, as the expansions of democratic ideals were. With the new leaps in technological advances, people built the impression that: “No reform is now deemed impossible, no enterprise for human betterment impracticable (Maier 369).” Of all the social ideas, the democratic ideas of striving for social equality, and benefitting the common good fit the technological age of progress best. Along with technological advancements, American literature was advancing too. New values such as favoring nature over “America’s turn towards industrial capitalism and worst...
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