Reform movements are a key characteristic in the antebellum period. Many groups sought to reform and uplift society in many ways, with many ideals in mind. Most of the antebellum reform movements reflected primarily democratic ideals. This was true through the many democratic based reforms between 1825 and 1850. One powerful and widespread movement in early America is the fight for women's rights. This view of the women's role was very similar to that of black slaves. Taken more serious was that of religion, which sprouted into utopia societies. Another illustration displayed the affects of alcohol, which caused man's drunkenness, and its affect on others. Three major reform movements that broadened our democratic ideals were better known as the women's suffrage movement, demon rum, and the religion revitalization. These movements brought with them some extraordinary people with some rather revolutionary ideas. Religious movements, led by the Second Great Awakening, caused the formation of many groups who believed that a strict interpretation of religion would bring the most beneficial changes to the nation. They believed that reform in the Church would bring changes in the congregation. The obvious example is the American born Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Another example of religious pioneers who worked to promote democratic ideals were the Shakers, started by Mother Ann Lee. People found comfort in knowing that regardless of the background God would take care of them and that God decided and blessed the life of each and every person. In the early eighteen hundreds religion was still a big part of a lot of people's lives, but it in no way played as big a role as in the days of the Puritans. Many Americans, including Jefferson and Franklin, began to follow Deism. Deists relied on reason rather than revelations. They did not believe in the three forms of God, but rather that God existed as one person. The Second Great Awakening had risen and it brought along even more followers than the first. This movement of religion converted all walks of people. A man by the name of Charles Grandison Finney was the leader of the Second Awakening. He gave up a career as a lawyer to become an evangelist. Finney, along with other spiritual leaders, used the religious movements to criticize things like slavery and alcohol. The reform movements were a way to change things that could easily become destructive. Because of the overpopulation in cities, the deflation of wages and women starting to work, many men were taking their depression with large quantities of alcohol. It was not uncommon for a man to come home drunk and depressed and beat his wife and children. Drinking was becoming a huge problem and it was ultimately destructive. Drinking problems were becoming more and more prominent. Efficiency of labor decreased as injuries on the job were increasing due to alcohol use. Because of this, the American Temperance Society was formed to try and control drinking problems. They gave out pamphlets and flyers to denounce drinking. A major player in the fight against alcohol was Neal S. Dow. Dow sponsored the Maine Law of 1851, which prohibited the manufacturing and sale of any alcoholic beverages. Many states followed Maine's lead with their own similar laws. Another controversial subject that arose during the time period was that of women's rights movement launched at Seneca Falls. Many women during this time not only fought for abolitionism and temperance, but they were also heavily involved in fighting for their own rights, main demand of women was to be as free as men in every regard, including taxes, government and voting. They wished to eliminate the view of women as property of the men. The women's movements were definitely successful in promoting the ideal of equality. In the early part of the 19th century, women were looked upon as inferior to men. They had their place in life and that was at home in the kitchen. Even worse off were the black women. But in many ways women were in the same position as African American slaves were. They couldn't vote, they couldn't own land, and they could be beaten with a reasonable cause. The only real job a woman could get was a job in education. Women reformers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton set out to change the mans world into a world where women could live equally. Stanton read a "Declaration of Sentiments" at the Seneca Falls meeting that declared all men and women are created equal. This crusade for women's rights eventually lead to the acceptance of women into some colleges and the right to own land after marriage.
The reform movements in the United States were a prime example of democracy in action. The liberal views of different groups of people and the stict views of religion led many on a mission to try and change things through reform movements such as women's suffrage movement, demon rum, and the religion revitalization. Because of the reform movements, democratic ideals were expanded and spread throughout the United States, which in return, lead to a more democratic way of life. People were given more rights and were given better opportunities to live pure lifestyles. The movements were a way to change things that could easily become destructive. Although many people disagreed with reforms, they were essential for America's democracy.