Table of Contents
The period between 1800 and 1865 marked an interesting phase of reforms in America. The reform movements that emerged during this period focused on addressing specific social, cultural, religious, and political issues. Some of the leading issues to be addressed in the reformation included abolishing capital punishment, antislavery, abolishing imprisonment for debt and the conversion of prisons from punishment facilities to rehabilitation units. Other social reforms in the time included just and humane treatment of Native Americans, the establishment of affordable public facilities to handle less fortunate members of the society like the mentally ill, the blind, and the destitute (Walters and Eric 213). Health and nutrition-based reforms also featured prominently between the periods. The reformers openly advocated for the use of homeopathic medicine, abolition of tobacco use and adoption of health reform practices like veganism.
Civil reforms like the establishment of women’s right to own property and sue for divorce, in addition to the changes in the labor sector touching on the right to strike and demand for better working condition, also took a center stage. Walter, Douglas and Aisha (12) links the reforms in the country to the massive success that followed. The adoption of these recommendations resulted in the creation of an open, free, and equitable system that enabled citizens to thrive in their endeavors. The entrance of new immigrants introduced fresh ideas and advocacy for a free and fair society. Ben Franklin, a Puritan Minister, is a towering figure in the reform era. Other activists joined the course from 1830s, and they included Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederic Douglass. These men and women devoted most of their adult lives to reform cause (Garrison 180). The three reformers represent the face of reforms in America between 1800 and 1860: the temperance movement, anti-slavery movement, and women right movement.
The Temperance Movement
The temperance movement championed for the abolition of the consumption of alcohol and other toxic substances like tobacco. The proponents cited health risks associated with the consumption of these substances as the reason for their abolition. Puritan ministers like Ben Franklin among other religious leaders were the face of this movement. As an alternative, they proposed the introduction of vegan diet as a means of establishing healthy living. Their assertions have greatly impacted the lives of many people in America who adopted the principles of their teachings. Shi and George (23) confirms the role of diet in the emergence of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Indeed, the temperance movement shaped American health system through the introduction of health reform.
The strongest anti-slavery sentiments emerged in 1830s. Discontentment from religious leaders and activists like Fredrick Douglass marshalled their influence to influence the government and slave owners to abolish the trade. A compromise was reached after the stubborn colonization’s accepted to settle freed African Americans in ACS colony in Liberia (Walter, Rosendo and Aisha 1852). However, the agreement was to consider the positions of slave maters and allow them to implement the release policy on voluntary basis. It is this movement that resulted to the ultimate abolition in 1865.
Women right Movement
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was among the towering champions of women rights in America. After the issue of Declaration of Sentiments in 1848 that condemned men for the oppression of women, the stage was set for a protracted battle of equity (Stanton 89). Issues ranging from voting rights to ownership of property emerged, then followed by the right to file for divorce. All the unbridled rights enjoyed by the women in this generation have their origin in this reformation movement.
The reform era shaped America’s democratic space and freedoms to what is currently witnessed. For instance, the anti-slavery movement in the 1800 resulted to the final abolition of slave trade in 1865. The United States of America is a leading women right advocate. It has some of the most enlightened and empowered women in the world. The reform era created the foundation for the gains now witnessed (Shi and George 24). Other human rights activists like the LGBTI find a suitable environment in the US because of the advocacy environment created by the reform era. The period between 1800 and 1865 was a central period in the American history.
- Finney, Charles G. Lectures to Professing Christians. Fleming H. Revell Company, 1879.
- Garrison, William Lloyd. “An Address at Park Street Church.” Old South Leaflets 180.
- Mann, Horace. “Twelfth annual report to the Massachusetts Board of Education.” The republic and the school: Horace Mann and the education of free men (1848).
- Shi, David E., and George Brown Tindall. America: A Narrative History. WW Norton & Company, 2016.
- Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, et al. History of Woman Suffrage…: 1848-1861. Vol. 1. Fowler & Wells, 1889.
- Walter, A., Rosendo Douglas, and Aisha Swift. “Throes of Democracy: the American Civil War era, 1829-1877.” (2008).
- Walters, Ronald G., and Eric Foner. American Reformers, 1815-1860. Macmillan, 1997.