Antebellum Reform Movements

By: Ashley Jones

Cause of the Reform Movements

The “Era of the Common Man” and the Second Great Awakening caused people to push for reforms.

Mental Hospitals:

States created mental hospitals, not prisons, to give the mentally ill the proper help they needed. Dorothea Dix, on the other hand exposed inhumane treatment of the mentally ill. Dorothea and other reformers believed that the mentally ill needed treatment and care, not punishment.
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Prisoners were treated inhumanely, they were sometimes jailed just for being in debt. Prisons began focusing more rehabilitating prisoners and “debtors’ prison” was abolished. Criminal codes were softened- the number of capital offenses was reduced and brutal punishment was reduced as well.
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Public Education:

Many believed the country could only survive if citizens were educated. Education was only affordable for the wealthy. But, Horace Mann pushed for public, tax-supported school with required attendance.
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Temperance was the moderation of alcohol use. The American Temperance Society convinced many to reduce alcohol use, and some states banned the sale of liquor all- together. Many saw alcohol abuse at the root of society's problems.
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Womans Rights:

Roles of men and women changed during industrialization. Seneca Falls Convention—started the organized women’s rights movement in the United States in 1848. Then the Declaration of Segments— declared men and women to be EQUAL. The women’s rights movement was overshadowed by the biggest reform movement, abolitionism .

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This was the Abolition of slavery. The Abolition of slavery was the biggest and most divisive issue of reform. Tension over the issue of slavery contributed to the Civil War.
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