Reforms Dbq

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During the time period between 1825-1850, known as the Antebellum Period, the series of reform movements that emerged sought to democratic ideals of equality, liberty, the right to vote, and a more centralized government. The Second Great Awakening, one of many religious reforms, expanded equality through the belief that everyone could attain salvation through hard work and faith. The Second Great Awakening was the spark for many of the other reform movements, such as Temperance, Women's Rights, and Abolition. These movements along with reforms of prisons and mental facilities, and education attempted to craft America into a more utopian society. The Second Great Awakening had started after the Revolutionary War, gained momentum around the turn of the century, and was at its strongest during the Antebellum Period. It was driven by the idea that everyone could be saved through revivals. Revivals were especially prevalent in upstate New York, which was nicknamed the “burned-over district” by Charles Finney, a prominent Presbyterian leader of The Second Great Awakening. Because there were so many revivals there, it seemed like there couldn't possibly be anyone left to convert. Social activism became the main method of revival in the North. Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist denominations made huge gains in membership in the South and on the frontier were “camp meeting” revivals took place. As in Document B where Finney said the reforms awakened and converted even the “most abandoned profligates”, the protestant ministers in the South preached to people of all classes and races, including free blacks, slaves, and slaveholders. Free blacks began to start their own churches on the belief that everyone needed to hear messages of salvation and personal freedom. Due to prejudices against them, many free blacks separated from the Methodist church. One such man named Richard Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. Blacks had more freedom within the Baptist church, as they could become ministers, and many black Baptist congregations were formed. Also during this time, groups such as the Mormons, Shakers and Baptists developed due to desires to restore primitive forms of Christianity, known as the Restoration Movement. In the late 1820s, Joseph Smith claimed to receive visions of a new sacred text/supplement to the Bible, the Book of Mormon. He founded a primitivist church called the Church of Christ on the teachings of this book and other revelations. Mormons established their first community in western New York. They then moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where Mormons faced persecution and Joseph Smith was assassinated. The first split in the church came surrounding the question of the next leader, but most Mormons migrated to Utah, spreading their message and gaining followers on the way, under the leadership of Brigham Young. Other popular groups that rose were the Unitarians and Universalists. Unitarianism is named for its understanding of God as one person, unlike the traditional Christian doctrine of Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) coexisting as one in being. It teaches that Jesus was a prophet and in some sense the “son” of God, but not God himself. Universalists believe that all humans either may or will be saved through Jesus Christ and eventually go to heaven. Teachings of the Second Great Awakening endorsed a strong work ethic, frugality and temperance within the expanding middle class. The Temperance Movement sprung from the social activism of the Second Great Awakening. Alcoholism was a growing problem in the United States: spousal abuse, family neglect and chronic unemployment were on the rise, issues which are shown in The Drunkards Progress (Document H). It was an area that social activists felt needed addressing. Lyman Beecher, a leading Presbyterian minister of the Second Great Awakening, lectured against the use of alcohol and co-founded the...
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