DBQ: The Reform Movements of 1825-1850
During the time period between 1825-1850, ideals of equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness defined democracy and were inculcated into the masses of America through a series of reform movements that emerged in the antebellum era. These reforms were based on the desire to make America a civilized, utopian society. The main types of reforms in this era were social reforms, religious reforms, institutional reforms, and abolitionist reforms. The main social reform made was the temperance movement. It was also through local social reforms that a change in thought regarding democratic ideals changed and expanded greatly. Many religious revivals such as the Second Great Awakening adequately expanded the democratic ideals by installing better moral standards in common men. Institutional reforms that expanded democratic ideals ranged from public education, to the removal of corporal punishment, to better asylums for the sick. The two main abolitionist reforms were the abolition of slavery, and the women’s rights movement. Social reforms in the antebellum era were critical to the expansion of democratic ideals. The temperance movement was based on the desire to create a productive and civilized society that could contribute more efficiently to the image of what a democratic family should be like. This movement began in 1826 as the alcohol was becoming increasingly widespread, affecting the efficiency of labor. Document H illustrates the detrimental effect that alcohol had on the life of the common laborer. In 1851, a law was passed which banned alcohol. This law not only protected women and children physically due to a decrease in abuse, it also supported the democratic principle that every man was equal and productive in his own right, as long as the government protected them from immoralities. Many other social reforms occurred throughout the country between 1825 and 1850. These social reforms were less specific than...
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