8-1 Religion Sparks Reform

Pgs. 224 - 228
The Second Great Awakening
 The 18th Century belief that God determined one’s
salvation or damnation was thrown out.
 Emphasis on individual responsibility for seeking
salvation and insisted that people could improve
themselves and society.
 Held revival meetings where audiences of 25,000 or
more would attend.
 Charles Grandison Finney inspired and preached at
 Revivals were religious gatherings designed to awaken
religious faith through impassioned preaching.
 Could last a week or more.
 Day: study Bible and examine souls
 Night: heard emotional preaching that could make them
cry out, burst into tears, or tremble with fear.
 Even got into the frontier... Not just an upperclass city
 New York had the most well known revivals.
 Brought more people to the church
The Unitarian Movement
 Faith in the individual
 Didn’t agree with revivals for public emotionalism
 Emphasized reason and appeals to conscience as paths
to perfection.
 Attracted a wealthy and educated following.
 Believed conversion was a gradual process …not
something that could happen overnight.
 Felt individual and social reform were both possible and
The African-American Church
 Slaveholders feared that enslaved African Americans
might use the message of individual salvation to attack
 Slaves in the rural South were allowed to worship in
the same churches as whites.
 In the East many freed African Americans attended
their own Churches.
 Richard Allen’s Bethel African Church in Philadelphia
Center for abolitionist meetings.
Provided schools and other services denied to blacks.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson
 Stressed people should develop unique and emotional forms
of expression.
 Developed a belief in transcendentalism – philosophical and
literary movement that emphasized living a simple life and
celebrated the truth found in nature and in personal emotion
and imagination, rather than in any organized system of
 Fought for humanitarian reforms such as the abolition of
slavery and improved conditions in prisons.
 Spawned a literary movement that stressed American ideals
of optimism, freedom, and self-reliance.
 Henry David Thoreau – Emerson's friend who put self-
reliance into practice.
Improving Education
Before the 1850’s, no uniform educational policy
School attendance was not mandatory
Classrooms were not divided by grade
Few children continued education after the age of 10.
In 1830’s Americans began to demand tax-supported public
 Rich parents who sent their children to private schools
protested because they didn’t see why they had to pay for two
 By the 1850’s, every state had provided for a system of
public elementary schools.
Reforming Asylums and Prisons
 Dorothea Dix was a social reformer.
 She was visiting a Massachusetts house of correction
and noticed that jails housed mentally ill people.
 “chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into
 1843 sent a letter of her findings to the Massachusetts
legislature which passed a law aimed at improving
 1845-1852 Dix persuaded 9 Southern states to set up
public hospitals for the mentally ill.
Reforming Asylums and Prisons
 French writer Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United
States in 1831.
 Wanted to observe its prison system.
 Found that it was so antiquated and that prisoners were
beaten and punished.
Said that even though the United States was advanced
government wise…it was antiquated in their prisons.
Americans Form Utopian
 Utopian communities – a perfect place that shared
common goals such as self-sufficiency.
 Didn’t work because couldn’t agree on one specific goal.