21 Nov 2013
Ch. 10 & 11 #2 Essay Question
American Reform movements between 1820 and 1860 reflected both optimistic and pessimistic views of human and society. Assess the validity of this statement in reference to reform movements in THREE of the following: education, temperance, women’s rights, utopian experiments, penal institutions. (1988)
The United States has seen change come and go over time. From the Great Awakening in the 1730s to the Technological revolution of the 20th century, America has constantly seen itself change. However, no period had the type of social reform as the mid-1800s. An "Age of Reform" as it is called, brought about the most drastic movements and reforms. Every type of social issue was discussed and made an issue during this time. Slavery, religion, women's rights, alcohol use, utopianism, education and prison conditions were all topics of debate during this era of reformation. These matters all had something in common. They all dealt with the pessimistic and optimistic views of human nature. Slavery, for example, was an issue that dealt with the cynical views in the south. Slavery as we would see it today would seem cruel and unjust, however, back then it was looked at as a serious issue that would eventually be one of the underlying causes of the Civil War.
Although the time may lead one to think that most of the reforms were based on pessimistic views of human nature, most were based on views of optimism. Take the issue of education, for example. The public school movement was designed to better educate our nation's youth. Horace Mann, the main advocator of this movement, created a public school system in Massachusetts. This system became the model for the rest of the United States. This is a positive aspect of human nature based on the fact that society wanted to improve itself. Another reform movement during this time was the establishment of utopian communities. Beginning with the New Harmony settlement of...
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