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The Reform Movements of the First Half of the Nineteenth Century

By Decoy5000 Dec 16, 2003 1015 Words
Throughout history there have been many reform movements that have changed the country which they took place in. During the first half of the nineteenth century the reform movements in America brought lasting change by causing the citizens of America to rethink their views on many important issues brought about by the economic and social disruptions of the market revolutions. First of all, the Temperance Movement helped to make a lasting change on the dangerous amounts of alcohol that the average citizen consumed. Secondly, the Woman's Rights Movement gave women many rights which they had not previously had. Finally the Abolitionist Movement caused a division in the country that led to armed conflict. Through all of these reform movements the United States have been forever changed.

The excessive consumption of alcohol was becoming a national problem in the United States. The American Society for the promotion of temperance was founded in 1826 to try to combat this problem. They had their hands full. In 1830's the consumption of alcohol was 7 gallons per capita. Also by the 1830's The American Society for the promotion of temperance had 200,000 members. The large amount of alcohol consumption by American citizens led to many problems both with the consumer's social and family interaction and with their work. Many families were hurt economically because of the massive amounts of money that the men of the house spent on hard liquor. Also the alcohol was a major cause of crime and violence in America. With the arrival of the market revolution came the use of new industrial machines. A person working with these machines while under the influence of alcohol had an increased chance of sustaining injury or death. This problem was one reason that employers started to imply temperance rules while their employees was at work. Another reason for the furthering of the temperance movement came with the depression of 1837-1843. The economic downturn brought about by the depression made it difficult for many average citizens to afford to buy alcohol. Many working men said that temperance was the workman's best way to survive. By 1840 the amount hard liquor consumption had dropped to only two gallons per capita. The temperance movement of the mid nineteenth century has had a lasting effect on America. The 7 gallons per capita that was consumed in the 1830's has dropped to nearly half that in the twenty first century.

For many years women just went along with their role as the house workers and children raisers, but with the arrival of the market revolution women started to want more freedom and more rights. On July 19, and 20 a group of men, and woman gathered in Seneca Falls for that very reason. About 300 people showed up to the convention to discus the Declaration of Sentiments which was a petition for rights for woman. Other that the Seneca Falls convention man woman took steps towards gaining their own rights. Two of these women were the Grimkè Sisters. Sarah and Angelina Grimkè were the first female public speakers. They started only speaking to groups of women, but men started to sneak into the meetings to hear them speak and before long the sisters realized they were speaking to large mixed groups. The Grimkè sisters helped to change the normal thoughts of the place for women in society. The Woman's Rights Movement has forever impacted the role for women in American society. It is because of the movement that started in the mid nineteenth century that women were granted universal suffrage in 1920. This movement is also responsible for women gaining many other rights as well. The divorce laws were changed so that women could more easily get out of bad marriages. They were allowed to keep their in comes and not have to hand them over to their husbands or fathers. They were also given the right to own property among many others. The Women's Rights Movement of the nineteenth century has had a lasting impact on everyday American society.

The Abolitionist Movement which really started to pick up momentum in the early nineteenth century had a lasting impact on both the slaves and the freemen of America. By 1830 there were 50 black abolitionist societies who held annual national conventions. These societies had people like Fredric Duglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth speak at these conventions. The stories of these great blacks led to many white people becoming involved in the Abolitionist Movement also. People like William Lloyd Garrison took an active stand against slavery. In the first issue of his newspaper the Liberator Garrison made his views on slavery known by writing, "I am earnest-I will not equivocate-I will not excuse-I will not retreat a single inch-AND I WILL BE HEARD". Garrison's paper along with others led to great divisions between northerners and slave holders of the south. Elijah P. Lovejoy wrote an abolitionists paper similar to Garrison. He was killed by proslavery Illinois' citizens while he was trying to protect his printing press from an angry mob. These divisions ultimately led to the secession of the south from the union and the Civil War. After the Civil war the country would never be the same. The change brought about by the Civil War has had a lasting impact on the strength of American. It has allowed the country to become a world power.

In the early nineteenth century the arrival of the market revolution led to many economic and social disruptions. These disruptions led to may reform movements that have had a lasting effect on America. The Temperance Movement helped to make the working class more productive by cutting down on the amount of alcohol which they consumed. The Woman's Rights Movement gave women the rights which they had long deserved. And the Abolitionist Movement led to the division and ultimately the Civil War which helped to strengthen America. These and many other reforms have helped to shape the America which we know today, and make it into the land of the free where everyone shares equal rights and not a country of drunks.

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