“Reform movements in the United States sought to expand democratic ideals.” This statement is valid. Religious people such as Mormons and Evangelists strove to have “Utopian” communities with equal opportunities of education and equal rights for all people. The reforms during this period changed individual lives as well as the society as a whole. There were many reforms that geared toward democratic progress, such as the need for temperance and the creation of rights for children. Reform movements were particularly apparent in the areas of education, temperance, women’s rights, Utopian experiments and penal institutions.
In the 1850’s women strove to have equal rights as men, demanding that “the disgraceful laws as give men the power to chastise and imprison his wife” must be abolished. Feminist movements demanded their right to vote. Was there a place that women could go to be equal?
Temperance was aimed at drunkards, harlots and infidels, and was widely preached in churches. Temperance sought to convert the miserable people of the society.
A number of “Utopian” communities began to spring up in the 1840’s -50’s. One of the best examples of these communities were the shakers, they let the outcast of society such as black and Indians, join them as long as they follow the rules. They would focus on shared labor and liberty. One of the major differences between the different utopian communities was the equality between men and women. A person’s sexuality was not important in American “Utopian” Communities, except for the Oneida. The Oneida are the most arguable because of it strange practice of complex marriage. Yet, the Oneida community was considered the most successful out of all utopian communities. Document F stresses the alliance among the people for the greater good of everyone. Document B explains that once the churches are reformed the sinners will be reformed, awakened and converted to better members of the society.
The poor were integrated back to society through housing projects, such as mental hospitals, reformatories, work houses, orphanages, and penitentiaries. Volunteer police armed the streets in the 1820’s but volunteers were short at hand and with crime rates rising with the population, they found it impossible to run on volunteers alone anymore. The government focused on establishing rehabilitation institutes to make the cities safe once more. These institutes were created to teach criminals how to function in society properly and to make them productive. Criminals received guidance and were taught to work and read. During this time period we also adopted the penitentiary system that sought to help youth stay out of crime and through a belief system. Poor were given the choice to work through work houses where they were not allowed to drink or gamble, and the mentally insane were helped to recover from their illness in asylums.
Improved safety services, welfare services and jail systems were established in cities. Because of the rising population of immigrants, Americans began on their search for ”manifest destiny”. Manifest destiny referred to the Americans’ quest for freedom and the need to spread democracy and Protestantism to foreign lands. Also during this time period the two-party system started to gain acceptance in American towns. The two-party system’s reemergence in 1825-1840 was brought about by major political personalities during that time, the States’ rights and the economic issues plaguing the country.
All the many reforms that took place in this era helped to build a democratic society.