What were the factors that fueled the reform impulse in late 19th-century America? What was the nature of thos?

What were the factors that fueled the reform impulse in late 19th-century America? What was the nature of those reform efforts?

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  • 9 years ago
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    Reform movement

    A reform movement is a kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society, rather than rapid or fundamental changes. A reform movement is distinguished from more radical social movements such as revolutionary movements.

    Reformists' ideas are often grounded in liberalism, although they may be rooted in socialist (specifically, Social democratic) or religious concepts. Some rely on personal transformation; others rely on small collectives, such as Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel and the self sustaining village economy, as a mode of social change. Reactionary movements, which can arise against any of these, attempt to put things back the way they were before any successes the new reform movement(s) enjoyed, or to prevent any such successes.

    United States: 1840s - 1930s

    •Art — The Hudson River School defined a distinctive American style of art, depicting romantic landscapes via the Transcendentalist perspective on nature.

    •Literature — founding of the Transcendentalist movement, which stressed high thinking and a spiritual connection to all things (see pantheism).

    •Science — John James Audubon founded the science of ornithology (the study of birds).

    •Utopian Experiments. New Harmony, Indiana (founder: Robert Owen) — practiced economic communism, although it proved to be socially flawed and thus unable to sustain itself.

    •Oneida Commune (founder: John Noyes), practiced eugenics, complex marriage, and communal living. The commune was supported through the manufacture of silverware, and the corporation still exists today, producing spoons and forks for households of the world. The commune sold its assets when Noyes was jailed on numerous charges.

    •Shakers — (founder: Mother Ann Lee) Stressed living and worship through dance, supported themselves through manufacture of furniture. The furniture is still popular today.

    •Brook Farm (founder: George Ripley), an agriculture-based commune that also ran schools.

    •Educational reform — (founder: Horace Mann); goals were a more relevant curriculum and more accessible education. Noah Webster's dictionary standardized English spelling and language; William McGuffey's hugely successful children's books taught reading in incremental stages.

    •Women's rights movement — Founded by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who organized the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and published a Declaration of Sentiments calling for the social and legal equality of women. Carried forward by Lucy Stone who began speaking out for women's rights in 1847, and organized a series of national conventions. Susan B. Anthony joined the cause in 1851 and worked ceaselessly for women's suffrage.

    •American labor movement — The campaign against excessive hours of work (and for the eight-hour day) was a central issue for the labor movement during the 19th century. The Knights of Labor, organized among the skilled trades in 1869 and led by Uriah Stephens, Terence Powderly and Mother Jones, was succeeded by the American Federation of Labor, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (now the AFL-CIO).

    •Child labor reform - According to Thomas DeGregori, an economics professor at the University of Houston, in an article published by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank operating in Washington D.C., "it is clear that technological and economic change are vital ingredients in getting children out of the workplace and into schools. Then they can grow to become productive adults and live longer, healthier lives.

    •Family planning - The phrase "birth control" entered the English language in 1914 and was popularised by Margaret Sanger and Otto Bobsein. Margaret Sanger was mainly active in the United States, but had gained an international reputation by the 1930s.

    •Abolition movement — The addition of Mexico's former territories in 1848 at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War reopened the possibility of the expansion of race-based chattel slavery; the adaptation of the slave system to industrial-style cotton production resulted in increasing dehumanization of black workers and a backlash against slavery in the northern states; key figures included William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass.

    •Know-Nothing movement, also anti-Catholic, anti-Masonic, and nativist (1845–1856)

    •Prohibition or Temperance movement -- Characterized by Frances Willard's Woman's Christian Temperance Union, which stressed education (formed 1881, declined in 1940s) and Carrie Nation's Anti-Saloon League (established nationally by Howard Hyde Russell), which promoted a confrontational approach towards bars and saloons. Other significant organizations include the Prohibition Party and Lincoln-Lee Legion.

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