AP Notes, Outlines, Study Guides, Vocabulary, Practice Exams and more!

Chapter 15 - The Ferment of Reform and Culture 1790-1860

Reviving Religion

  • Christian Religion
    • Many people (3/4 of the 23 million people pop.) still attended church regularly
    • Orthodoxy softened greatly by the rationalist ideas of the French Revolution
  • Deism
    • Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason
      • All churches were "set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit"
    • Liberal ideas (Deism) embraced by many of the Founding Fathers
    • Deism supported science and reason rather than the Bible and revelation
    • Rejected concept of sin and Christ's divinity
    • Believed in one Supreme Being
    • Helped inspire the unitarian faith (God existed in only one person)
  • Second Great Awakening
    • Reaction to the liberalism
    • Effects of the Second Great Awakening
      • Many converted souls across America
      • Shattered and reorganized churches
      • Many new sects
    • Camp Meetings
      • Thousands would gather in encampment in order to "get religion"
      • Boosted church membership
      • Humanitarian reforms
    • Peter Cartwright
      • Traveling preacher
      • Converted 1000's to Methodist beliefs
      • "Muscular" conversion
    • Charles Grandison Finley
      • Trained as a lawyer
      • Pungent message
      • Abolitionist and Revivalist for Oberlin College
    • Feminization of Reilgion
      • First and most fervent enthusiasts of revivalism
      • Made up majority of new church member

Denominational Diversity

  • "Burned-Over District"
    • Western NY, where the desendants of the New Engalnd Puritans settled
  • Millerites and Adventists
    • Rose from Burned Over District in the 1830's
    • Interpreted (Bible) that Christ would return to Earth on 10/22/1844
    • Failure of revival of Christ did not destroy the movement
  • Second Great Awakening
    • Widened lines between classes and religions
    • Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congressionalists, & Unitarians still wealthier and more educated
    • Methodists, Baptists,and new sects were less prosperous, learned, and sprang up in the South and West
  • Slavery divides churches
    • Religious diversity divides churches

Desert Zion in Utah

  • Joseph Smith found "golden plates," which translated into a Book of Mormon (Church of Latter-Day Saints)
  • Ohio, Missouri, Illinois all were not happy with this new religion, and Smith ended up being murdered by a mob in 1844
  • Brigham Young took up the religion leading and led the followers to Utah, where they used irrigation to make the desert flourish
  • Mormons practice polygamy, and ignored Congress's antipolygamy laws of 1862 and 1882. This delayed Utah's statehood until 1896

Free Schools for a Free People

  • There were very few tax-supported primary schools, so many poor people were uneducated
  • However, higher classes began to realize that these undereducated poor would eventually become voters
  • School taxes were started so that public education was available for all
  • 1825-50: and increase in # of schools, but many teachers weren't better educated than their students and had crappy wages
  • HORACE MANN: secretary of Mass. Board of Education worked towards better wages and education for teachers
  • NOAH WEBSTER: made better textbooks that promoted patriotism, and also made the Dictionary
  • WILLIAM H. MCGUFFEY: made "grade-school" readers that taught morality, patriotism, and idealism

Higher Goals for Higher Learning

  • New denominational, liberal arts colleges were academically poor, usually used to satisfy local pride than to advance learning
  • Curriculums in the new colleges included mainly
    • Latin
    • Greek
    • Mathematics
    • Moral philosophy
  • First state-supported universities sprang up in the South
  • Women's higher education was frowned upon due to the beliefs and prejudices of the time
  • However, women's secondary schools gained respectability in the 1820's
  • Those who wanted more knowledge often went to libraries or read magazines
  • Traveling lecturers also helped

An Age of Reform

  • Reforms grew with the country
  • Most ideal reform was the end of slavery
  • Reform movements brought women out of the household
  • Punishments for debt and crimes were softened as the poor gained the vote
  • The mentally ill were treated better due to reforms caused by Dorothy Dix
  • Peace was another wanted reform

Demon Rum - the "Old Deluder"

  • Drinking too much was very common due to custom and the lifestyle
  • 1826- American Temperance Society founded in Boston. Used many methods (songs, pamphlets, pictures...) to get heavy drinkers to sign the Temperance Pledge
  • T.S. Arthur wrote Ten Nights in a Barroom and What I Saw There (2nd only to Uncle tom's cabin)
  • Many supported idea of strengthening willpower to avoid the drink, while some supported illegalizing alcohol (Neal S. dow)
  • Dow, the "Father of Prohibition," sponsored the Maine Law of 1851, which prohibited the making or selling of intoxicating liquors
  • Other northern states followed, but usually these laws were repealed within a decade

Women in Revolt

  • At the open of the nineteenth century women...
    • were expected to take care of the home only
    • could not vote
    • could be legally beaten by her overlord
    • when she was married she couldnt retain title to her property, it passed to her husband
  • american women were treated much better than those in europe
  • As the decades unfolded they increasingly gained freedom and self-determination
  • Compared to women in colonial times 10% of adult women remained "spinsters" at the time of the Civil War
  • women were respected as the "moral backbone" of society
  • Female reformers gathered strength and while demanding rights for women they joined in the reform movement, fighting for temperance and the abolition of slavery
  • The women's rights movement was mothered by
    • Lucretia Mott: a sprightly Quaker
    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton:mother of 7, insisting on leaving "obey" out of her marriage ceremony, advocated sufferage for women
    • Susan B. Anthony
    • Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell:the first female graduate of medical college
  • The Women's Rights Convention at Senaca Falls, NY launched the modern women's rights movement.."Declaration of Sentiments">"all men AND WOMEN are created equal" [1848]
  • The crusade for women's rights was eclipsed by the campaign against slavery in the decade before the Civil War.

Wilderness Utopias

  • "communitarian" communities became all the rage in this age of reform
    • Robert Owen [1825] started one in new Harmony, Indiana..tho it started w. "hard-working visionaries" many different kinds of people that threw-off the "perfect society" were attracted to this utopia, causing the idea of perfection to crumble.
    • Brook Farm in Massachusetts [1841] was "brotherly and sisterly intellectuals" that believed in the philosophy of a superior society...they prospered until a building burnt down and they plunged into debt.
    • The Oneida Community in New York [1848] was more out there w. free love or "complex marraige" practices, use of birth control, parents trying to produce superior kids...the community flourished for approx. 30 yrs bc they were skilled artisans.
    • The Shakers lived the longest [about 1770-1940ish] led by Mother Ann Lee, started in 1770 w. some religious communities, got about 6,000 followers in 1840, but bc of their ban against marriage & sex they were virtually extinct by 1940.
  • most of these communities tried and failed or changed their methods

Dawn of Scientific Achievement

  • Americans were interested in gagets, not pure science, and usually borrowed and adapting Euro findings, commendable ppl were:
    • Nathaniel Bowditch[1733-1838] mathematician who wrote about pracitcal navigation and of oceanographer Matthew F. Maury[1806-1873] on ocean winds and currents
    • Professor Benjamin Silliman[1779-1864] scientist: pioneer chemist & geologist who taught @ yale for 50yrs
    • Professor Louis Agassiz[1807-1873] french-swiss immigrant who was a path-breaking biologist @ harvard for 25yrs
    • Professor Asa Grey[1810-1888] @ harvard, "Columbus of American botany" published over 350 books,monographs,papers & his txtbooks set new standards for clarity & interest
    • John J. Audubon[1785-1851] American bird lore/naturalist, painted wild fowl in natural habitat, Audubon Society for protection of birds named after him [obviously]
  • Medicine in America was still primitive.."Bring Out Your Dead!"
    • smallpox plauges, yellow fever epidemic, "rheumatics", the "miseries", the chills, decayed or ulcerated teeth[pulling often practiced by the brawny town blacksmith]
    • life expectancy still very short & even less so for blacks
    • self-prescribed medicines = common, fad diets, rubbing dead toads on tumors, doctor-prescribed medicines were harmful
    • no anesthetics until early 1840s w. laughing gas and ether

Artistic Achievements

  • America contributed little of note architecturally in the first half of the century.
  • About midcentury strong interest developed in a revival of Gothic reforms, with their emphasis on pointed arches and large windows.
  • Thomas Jefferson was probably the ablest architect of his generation, he brought a classical design to his Virginia home, Monticello.
  • The art of painting suffered from the lack of a wealthy class to sit for portraits and then pay for them.
  • Some of the earliest painters were forced to go to England, America exported artists and imported art.
  • Painting also suffered from the Puritan prejudice that art was a sinful waste of time.
  • Painters nevertheless emerged
    • Gilbert Stuart: produced several portraits of Washington
    • Charles Willson Peale: painted some sixty portraits of Washington, Washington sat for 14 of them.
    • John Trumbull: recaptured the Revolutionary War's scenes and spirit
  • Music slowly shookoff the restraints of colonial days also.

Blossoming of a National Literature

Trumpeters of Transcendentalism

  • started in 1830s Boston known as "the Athens of America"
  • liberalization of Puritan theology
  • happenings brought about by foreign influences
    • German romantic philosophers & Asian religions
  • Transcendentalists disliked prevailing theory(knowledge comes to mind through senses)
  • believed that truthfulness "transcends" senses, & cannot be found through observation alone
  • Every person has an "inner light" that can put him/her in direct contact w/ God("Oversoul")
  • Doctrines of transcendentalism defied definition, but underlay concrete beliefs
  • in religious & social matters, individualism=most important, followed by self-discipline & self-culture
  • these traits of independence lead to hostility towards authority, formal institutions, & conventional wisdom
  • humanitarian reforms brought about for blacks & whites
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson(1803-1882):
    • most well known of transcendentalists
    • trained as a Unitarian minister
    • favorite as a lyceum lecturer
    • in 1837, urged American writers to seek their own heritage & ditch European traditions during his speech, "The American Scholar" which he delivered at Harvard College
    • influential poet & philosopher, he enriched the lives of many
    • he stressed self-reliance, optimism, self-improvement, freedom, & self-confidence
    • a critic of slavery by 1850 & supporter of the Union
  • Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862)
    • hated governments that supported slavery & refused to pay Mass. poll tax
    • believed in reducing bodily wants to gain time to pursue truth through meditation & study
    • his writings encouraged Gandhi to resist British rule & Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideas of nonviolence
  • Walt Whitman(1819-1892):
    • loved by expanding America & caught enthusiasm of Americans
    • Leaves of Grass (1855) used lots of different emotions; at first it was a flop but then spread to Europe & gained fame for Whitman

Glowing Literary Lights

  • Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow(1807-1882): one of the most popular poets from America
  • taught modern languages at Harvard College for many years
  • Urbane & handsome, he live a pretty good life aside from the fact that 2 of his wives died
  • wrote for the genteel classes, liked by the less cultured
  • most of his poems were based on American traditions
  • popular in Europe, he was the only American to be honored in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey
  • John Greenleaf Whittier(1807-1892): Quaker, Anit-slavery crusade
    • importantly influenced social action; his poems fought against inhumanity, injustice, & intolerance
    • one of the moving forces in his generation(morally, spiritually, humanitarian)
    • "...the poet of human freedom."
  • Professor James Russel Lowell(1819-1891):
    • literary critic, essayist, editor, & a diplomat
    • Biglow Papers, dealt w/ political satire, especially in 1846 (the Mexican War), used poems in Yankee dialect, papers talked about alleged slavery-expansion of Polk administration
  • Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes(1809-1894):nonconforming conversationalist
    • taught at Harvard Med. School
    • prominent poet, novelist, lecturer, essayist, & wit
    • wrote about Boston, Boston Tea Party, Boston Tea Partiers, etc.
  • Louisa May Alcott(1832-1888): grew up in Concord, Mass.
    • father=philosopher, Bronson Alcott
    • she wrote Little Women & other books to support mother & sisters
  • Emily Dickenson(1830-1886): lived in solitude as a recluse
    • explored themes of nature, death, love, & immortality
    • never published poems during life, but after death almost 2000 poems found & published
  • William George Simms(1806-1870): novelist
    • wrote 82 books
    • "the Cooper of the South"
    • themes dealt w/ South during the colonial & Revolutionary War periods
    • married into elite & became slaveowner

Literary Individualists & Dissenters

There were several writers during this time period who did not show the human goodness and social progress that other writers of the time were.

  • Edgar Allan Poe had a ghostly style and wrote several good horror stories
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville both wrote about the struggle between good and evil

Portrayers of the Past

As well as writers several distinguished historians emerged from this time period.3 great historians were George Bancroft, William H. Prescot and Francis Parkman. Many of the great historians were from New England

Subject X2: 

Need Help?

We hope your visit has been a productive one. If you're having any problems, or would like to give some feedback, we'd love to hear from you.

For general help, questions, and suggestions, try our dedicated support forums.

If you need to contact the Course-Notes.Org web experience team, please use our contact form.

Need Notes?

While we strive to provide the most comprehensive notes for as many high school textbooks as possible, there are certainly going to be some that we miss. Drop us a note and let us know which textbooks you need. Be sure to include which edition of the textbook you are using! If we see enough demand, we'll do whatever we can to get those notes up on the site for you!