19th Century Religion & Reform
Early 19th Century American Culture
• How and to what extent the 19th Century romantic movement of thought, literature and the arts reflected individualism and the virtues of common people (e.g., Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Walt Whitman).
• How and why American art, literature, and music reflected and impacted national and regional interests, values and/or conflicts (e.g., Romanticism, transcendentalism, Philip Freneau, the Knickerbockers, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walt Whitman).
• To what extent 19th century utopian societies fulfilled their idea of the “American Dream” (e.g., Shakers, Oneida Community and Brook Farm). (Individual rights, individual responsibility, equal justice under the law)
• How and why ideal utopian communities formed in the early 19th century and their implications for American culture and society (e.g., Brook Farm, Oneida Community, Shakers and New Harmony). (Inalienable rights, equal protection under the law, individual rights)
• To what extent the United States became a more democratic and inclusive society because of the social reform movements of the mid19th Century (e.g., abolition, women’s rights, education reform, asylum reform, temperance, prison reform). (Individual rights as set forth in the Bill of Rights, due process, individual responsibility, equal justice under the law)
• The significance of the women’s rights movement in the United States through the contributions of major leaders and participants, their strategies and opposition, and the results of their efforts by the end of Reconstruction (e.g., Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Seneca Falls Convention, Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone). (Inalienable rights, equal protection under the law, individual rights, due process)
• The significance of other major reform movements in the United States, such as asylum/mental illness reform, prison reform, labor reform, education reform and temperance through the contributions of major leaders and participants, their strategies and opposition, and the results of their efforts by the end of Reconstruction (e.g., Horace Mann, Dorothea Dix and “Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts”). (Inalienable rights, equal protection under the law, individual rights, due process)
• How and why individuals and groups were inspired by religious values and political ideals to lead and participate in social reform movements in the United States before the Civil War. (Inalienable rights, equal protection under the law, individual rights, due process)
• How and to what extent the Second Great Awakening influenced various cultural groups (e.g., reform movements, revivalism and camp meetings). (Individual rights as set forth in the Bill of Rights)
• How and to what extent the Second Great Awakening influenced the onset of 19th Century social reform movements in the United States. (Individual rights)
• How social reform movements for freedom and equality, such as women’s rights and abolition, impacted the development and platforms of American political parties (e.g., Jacksonian-Democrats, Whigs and Republicans). (Federalism, equal justice under the law, rule of law, private property rights, individual rights as set forth in the Bill of Rights, individual responsibility, due process, inalienable rights)
• How the advancement of printing technologies and the availability of popular literature, through pamphlets, newspapers and magazines, impacted American culture from the Revolution to the Civil War. ).
• How and why American society of the 19th century developed a distinctive urban popular culture (e.g., boxing, performing arts and minstrel shows).
Beecher vs. Grimke on the proper role of 19th Century American Women
Catherine Beecher's letter to Angelina Grimke (read paragraphs 4, 5, 7)
Grimke's response to Beecher.
"I have often been amused at the vain efforts made to define the rights and responsibilities of immortal beings as men and women. No one has yet found out just where the line of separation between them should be drawn, and for this simple reason, that no one knows just how far below man woman is, whether she be a head shorter in her moral responsibilities, or head and shoulders, or the full length of his noble stature, below him, i. e. under his feet. Confusion, uncertainty, and great inconsistencies, must exist on this point, so long as woman is regarded in the least degree inferior to man; but place her where her Maker placed her, on the same high level of human rights with man, side by side with him, and difficulties vanish, the mountains of perplexity flow down at the presence of this grand equalizing principle. Measure her rights and duties by the unerring standard of moral being, not by the false weights and measures of a mere circumstance of her human existence, and then the truth will be self-evident, that whatever it is morally right for a man to do, it is morally right for a woman to do. I recognize no rights but human rights—I know nothing of men's rights and women's rights for in Christ Jesus, there is neither male nor female.
Now, I believe it is woman's right to have a voice in all the laws and regulations by which she is to be governed, whether in Church or State; and that the present arrangements of society, on these points, are a violation of human rights, a rank usurpation of power, a violent seizure and confiscation of what is sacredly and inalienably hers—thus inflicting upon woman outrageous wrongs, working mischief incalculable in the social Circle, and in its influence on the world producing only evil, and that continually. If Ecclesiastical and Civil governments are ordained of God, then I contend that woman has just as much right to sit in solemn counsel in Conventions, Conferences, Associations and General Assemblies, as man—just as much right to it upon the throne of England, or in the Presidential chair of the United States."
1. What was the position of Beecher concerning the role of women in American society? Was she a proponent of the Cult of Domesticity? Point to one passage which seems to confirm your answer.
2. What was Grimke's position of the role of women in American society. What did she think about the Cult of Domesticity? Point to one passage which seems to confirm your answer.
3. How would Grimke change the role of women in American society?
4. Which of these women do you think most 19th century women agreed with?
5. Which do you agree with and why?
6. What do you think accounts for the difference in your answer between 4 & 5?
View God in America (PBS) Episode 2 from approximately 18:30 - 31:00 on Second Great Awakening and use discussion questions below.
Several of the historians in this episode stress the themes of religious choice, a competitive religious atmosphere, and the rise of the religious marketplace of ideas in early 19th-century America. Do you see similar religious circumstances in America today? Describe the current American religious marketplace.
Cynthia Lynn Lyerly notes that one of the consequences of expanding religious choices in America was opening them up to include "none of the above." Discuss how freedom of religion allowed ordinary people to take charge of their own religious destinies and the extent of the diversity that resulted.
Revivals and camp meetings followed the expanding American frontier. They were democratic, egalitarian and traditional in their appeal. How did they reshape religion in America? One effect of the revivals was a heightened sense of the "religion of the heart." Another was an interest in individual moral reform and the improvement of social ills -- the creation of a "New Eden." How and why do you think evangelical revivals contributed increased attention to social reform as well as individual piety?
Methodists were key to Protestant expansion in America. What were the characteristics that contributed to this expansion and to the varieties of Protestantism that flourished after 1800?
Utopian Societies Overviews
Excellent Overview of Second Great Awakening
other resources from teachushistory.org
Set of Reform Era & Women's Rights worksheets (Tocqueville, key reformers and movements, women's rights, Seneca falls, abolition)