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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