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Shaping America in the Antebellum Age

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					Chapter 12 Shaping America in the Antebellum Age

The American People, 6th ed.

I.

Religious Revival and Reform Philosophy

Finney and the Second Great Awakening
 From the late 1790s to the late 1830s, a wave of religious revivalism swept through the United States.  Personified by the flamboyant Charles Finney who preached every night for six months in Rochester, New York.  Revivalists toned down the Calvinist rhetoric and preached a religion of inclusiveness.

The Transcendentalists
 A small but influential group of New England intellectuals who lived around Ralph Waldo Emerson, the era’s foremost thinker.  The group was called Transcendentalists because of their belief that truth was found in intuition beyond the senses.  They questioned slavery and the pursuit of wealth.  Members included Nathanial Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau (“On Civil Disobedience”)

II.

The Political Response to Change

Changing Political Culture
 Andrew Jackson’s presidency was instrumental in bringing politics to the center focus of many American lives.  Jackson promised a more democratic system of politics.  He was personally not very democratic, owned slaves, and favored the forced removal of Indians to the west.  His administration did see the effectual emergence of a competitive party system.

Old Hickory’s Vigorous Presidency
Jackson’s key principles:  Majority rule  Limited power of the national government  The obligation of the government to defend the nation’s average people against the tyranny of the wealthy  Aggressive use of the presidential veto  Favored a rotational system of staffing the government

Jackson’s Indian Policy
 Andrew Jackson favored forcible removal and relocation westward on reservations.  A Supreme Court decision in 1823 stating that Indians could occupy but not hold title to land in the United States made Jackson’s policy easy to implement.  Using harassment and bribery, Jackson’s administration forced many of the Indian Nations to march west to present-day Oklahoma.

Jackson’s Bank War
 The Second Bank of the United States had been in service since 1823 and had thirteen years left on its charter.  A responsible organization, the Bank restrained smaller state banks form making unwise loans by insisting payment in the form of specie (gold or silver).  American business wanted cheap, inflated, paper money to fund expansion.  Jackson used the struggle to underscore differences between social classes.  The sound fiscal policy of the Bank won out and caused The Panic of 1837.

The Second American Party System
 Democrats: had a sounder claim of representation of the common man with a broad base of support across the nation, logic often shaped policy  Whigs (formerly Republicans): represented majority of wealth in America and big businesses, religion often shaped policy

III. Perfectionist Reform and Utopianism

Utopian Communities: Oneida and the Shakers
 Many reformers of the age sought to create the perfect representation in miniature of what life should be.  John Humphrey Noyles founded a society of “free love” and socialism at Oneida, New York.  The Shakers believed in communal property, perfectionism, and celibacy.  Shaker worship featured a wild dance intended to release sin from the body.

Other Utopias
Over 100 communities like the Shakers and Oneida were founded during the era:  The Ephrata colony of Pennsylvania  The Hopedale community of Mass.  The Harmonists of Indiana o Closely related were the Millerites and Mormons

IV. Reforming Society

Temperance
 Nineteenth century Americans drank to excess.  Early efforts at curbing the public’s consumption focused on moderation.  The American Temperance Society (1826) was dedicated to total abstinence.  The Society successfully used revival techniques of the Second Great Awakening to motivate “converts.”

Humanizing the Asylum
 Some efforts of reform were not aimed at the salvation of the individual but towards organizations such as hospitals or asylums.  Dorothea Dix championed the cause of the mentally ill, believing adequate facilities and proper living conditions would go far to produce some sort of a “cure.”

Working-Class Reform
 In America, the institution most in need of reform was the factory.  The reform movement gradually was adapted to the plight of workers and trade unions began to appear.  Skilled workers began to organize to protect their crafts and to negotiate better conditions.  The National Trades Union (1834) was the first attempt at a nation-wide labor organization.

Tensions Within the Antislavery Movement
 William Lloyd Garrison published The Liberator—America’s first antislavery journal and helped establish the American Anti-Slavery Society.  Garrison’s message was an immediate end to slavery with no conditions.  The majority of abolitionists in America disagreed on how to reform slavery in America; most preferred religious education, political action, boycotts of slave-harvested goods, or downright rebellion.


				
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