The Ferment of Reform & Culture
The American Pageant
Chapter 16
Reviving Religion
 Rationalism, Deism, Unitarian faith led to growing liberalism in
 Response: 2nd Great Awakening, larger than 1st, spread through camp
Reviving Religion (2)
 Result: boosted church membership, led to humanitarian reforms.
 Methodists & Baptists benefited the most – stressed emotional-ism &
personal conversion rather than predestination.
Reviving Religion (3)
 Peter Cartwright was best known Methodist “circuit rider.”
 Charles Finney was greatest revival preacher, called for perfect Christian
kingdom on earth, led to reform efforts (alcohol, slavery).
Denominational Diversity
 Western NY became known as “Burned-Over District,” gave birth to
Adventists, predicted Christ’s return.
 Like 1st, 2nd Awakening widened gaps between classes and religions.
Denominational Diversity (2)
 Rich, conservative, eastern den. were not affected (Episc., Presb.,
Cong., Unit.)
 Methodist/Baptist drew from poorer classes in South, West.
 Split of churches over slavery foreshadowed political split.
A Desert Zion in Utah
 1830: Burned-Over District produced Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon.
 Cooperation, polygamy, militia created conflict with neighbors in
Ohio & MO.
A Desert Zion in Utah (2)
 1846-47: After Smith’s murder, Brigham Young leads LDS to Utah.
 Utah grew quickly from LDS, European immigration
 Conflict with fed. gov’t over territorial control, polygamy.
Free Schools/Free People
 Early public schools were only for poor, but came to be viewed by rich
as necessary for stable democracy.
 1825-1850: Public schooling grew due to white manhood suffrage.
Free Schools/Free People (2)
 Quality of early schools sporadic, needed reform.
 Horace Mann (MA Board of Ed.) argued for longer terms, better pay,
broader curriculum.
Free Schools/Free People (3)
Despite Mann, only 100 public secondary schools by 1860, education a
luxury for many.
 Webster provided improved textbooks, dictionary (standardized language)
 McGuffey’s readers taught morality, patriotism.
Higher Learning
 2nd Great Awakening led to small denominational schools which, like “ivy
league” taught traditional subjects.
 1st state schools began in South (N. Carolina in 1795).
Higher Learning (2)
 UVA founded in 1819, brainchild of Jefferson. Dedicated to freedom from
denominational control, modern languages, sciences.
 Women’s higher ed frowned upon, but some schools developed in 1820-30s.
Higher Learning (3)
 1837: Oberlin allowed women, previously blacks.
 Adult education grew through lyceum lecture associations (3000 by
 Magazines flourished, e.g. North American Review.
An Age of Reform
 Various reform campaigns developed, most as a result of 2nd Great
 Puritan vision of perfected society fueled crusades against war,
alcohol, discrimination, slavery.
An Age of Reform (2)
 State leg. gradually abolished debtor’s prisons.
 Capital offenses and brutal punishments reduced, idea that prisons
should reform rather than just punish grew.
An Age of Reform (3)
 Dorothea Dix led reforms to improve treatment of mentally ill (1843
petition to Mass. leg.).
 William Ladd led peace movement, American Peace Society formed
in 1828.
Demon Rum
 Alcohol a problem, even among women, clergy; problem at weddings,
funerals, work.
 1826: American Temperance Society formed in Boston, thousands
Demon Rum (2)
 Anti-alcohol novel Ten Nights in a Barroom… was bestseller in 1850s.
 Moderate reformers stressed temperance (moderation) rather than
abstinence, but others favored prohibition.
Demon Rum (3)
 Neal S. Dow, “Father of Prohibition,” sponsored Maine Law of
1851—no manufacture or sale.
 Other states followed, but many laws were struck down or ignored.
However, drinking was reduced overall.
Women in Revolt
 Women had few rights, but treated better than in Europe, partly due to their
scarcity on frontier.
 Distinctive gender roles, especially economically
 Homemakers glorified, e.g. “cult of domesticity”
Women in Revolt (2)
 Midcentury: more women involved in reform (women’s rights, temperance,
E. Cady Stanton advocated women’s suffrage.
Susan B. Anthony was militant lecturer, progressive women called “Suzy
Women in Revolt (3)
 1848: Feminist reform led to Seneca Falls Convention.
 Declared that all men and women are created equal, demanded suffrage.
 Significance: launched modern women’s rights movement.
Wilderness Utopias
 Utopian spirit led to creation of over 40 cooperative communities.
 New Harmony, Robert Owen, 1825: failed due to lack of unity.
 Brook Farm, 1841: 20 transcen-dentalists, collapsed in debt after fire.
Inspired Hawthorne.
Wilderness Utopias (2)
 Oneida, 1848, John H. Noyes: “complex marriage,” eugenics.
Survived for 30 years due to silver, traps.
 Shakers, 1770, Mother Ann Lee: Peaked in 1840, prohibited
marriage/sex, gone by 1940.
Scientific Achievement
 Early Americans interested only in practical/gadget science, e.g.
plowing, ocean navigation.
 But a few real scientists were influential, e.g. Silliman (Yale) &
Agassiz (Harvard).
Scientific Achievement (2)
 John J. Audobon published Birds of America.
Bird protection society
named after him.
 Medicine: bleeding as treat-ment & plagues still common.
 1850: Life exp. only 40 years.
Scientific Achievement (3)
 Use of medicine often harmful, surgeries painful (whiskey).
 Early 1840s: MDs & DDSs began using laughing gas/ether as
Artistic Achievements
 Architecture generally followed Greek/Roman models.
 Jefferson (Monticello, UVA) was best architect of his time.
 Art suffered b/c lack of wealthy class & leisure time, Puritan view of
Artistic Achievements (2)
 Notable American painters: Gilbert Stuart (in England), Charles
Wilson Peale (G. Washington), John Trumball (Rev. War).
 After 1812, nationalism led to portraits of landscapes, e.g. Hudson
River School.
National Literature
 Early lit. was practical, e.g. political essays (Federalist).
 Nationalism and economic dev. of older eastern areas produced
support for US lit.
Knickerbocker Group in NY produced 1st US lit. comparable to
National Literature (2)
 Knickerbockers:
 Washington Irving: impressed Europe, The Sketch Book
 James Fenimore Cooper: 1st novelist, Leatherstocking Tales
 William Cullen Bryant: poetry (Thanatopsis), NY Post
 1830: Rejected Locke’s theory that knowledge comes only through
senses—we all have inner light to give knowledge and put us in touch
with God.
 Led to social & religious individualism; self-reliance, self-discipline.
Transcendentalism (2)
 Ralph Waldo Emerson most famous: former minister, writer, speaker
 Speech “The American Scholar” urged Americans to have intellectual
independence from Europe.
Transcendentalism (3)
 Henry David Thoreau: like Emerson opposed to slavery, developed
ideas of civil disobedience.
 Gifted writer: Walden described experience of simple life.
Transcendentalism (4)
 Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass (1855) - collection of poetry.
 “Poet Laureate of Democracy” – he described love for masses,
expansion of America.
Glowing Literary Lights
 Longfellow: popular poet both in US & Europe, popular works based on
American themes.
Whittier: poet laureate of antislavery effort.
Lowell: great poet, essayist, political satirist – condemned slavery expansion
of Polk.
Glowing Literary Lights (2)
 Holmes: saw Boston as central, poet, essayist, novelist, lecturer.
 Alcott: wrote Little Women to support family.
 Dickinson: recluse, would not publish poems during lifetime.
 Simms: “Cooper of the South,” 82 books, southern themes.
Literary Individualists
 Some writers were not reform oriented, but were dissenters, e.g.:
 Poe: Life of suffering, alcohol, wrote horror short stories, poems (“The
Literary Individualists (2)
 Hawthorne: Scarlet Letter, Puritan influence/themes.
 Melville: Adventurer, Moby Dick was not initially popular, most liked
more upbeat novels, died in poverty.
Portrayers of the Past
 Early American historians (Bancroft, Prescott, Parkmann) were New
Englanders, due to Boston’s libraries, literary tradition.
 Result: many works reflected anti-southern bias.
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