The Ferment of Reform and Culture
Thomas Paine promoted the doctrines of Deism. Deists relied on science rather than the Bible and they denied the divinity of Christ. They did believe in a Supreme Being who had created a universe and endowed human beings with a capacity for moral behavior.
Unitarianism spun off of Deism. Unitarians believed that God existed in only one person. It appealed to mostly intellectuals.
The Second Great Awakening came in 1800. Women were a large part of it.
Peter Cartwright- a revivalist, traveling preacher who converted thousands to Christianity.
Charles Grandison Finney- one of the greatest revivalist preachers.
Many preachers preached in Western New York where the Puritans settled.
The Second Great Awakening widened the lines between the classes and regions. The more prosperous and conservative denominations in the East were little touched by revivalism, and Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Unitarians continued to rise mostly from the wealthier, better-educated levels of society.
The issue of slavery split the churches apart.
A Desert Zion in Utah
Joseph Smith- formed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in 1830 when he deciphered the Book of Mormon from some golden plates given to him by an angel; led the Mormons to Illinois.
After Joseph Smith was killed 1844, Brigham Young led the Mormons to Utah to avoid persecution.
Free Schools for a Free People
Tax-supported public education came about between 1825 -1850. Americans eventually saw they had to educate their children because the children were the future. The teachers of the schools were mostly men and did not know how to teach. There were not very many schools in the U.S. because of their high costs to communities.
Horace Mann- campaigned effectively for a better schooling system.
Higher Goals for Higher Learning
The first state-supported universities showed up in the South in 1795.
The University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson.
Women's schools at the secondary level came in the 1820s because of Emma Willard.
An Age of Reform
States gradually abolished debtors' prisons due to public demand. Criminal codes in the states were being softened. The number of capital offenses was being reduced. The idea that prisons should reform as well as punish arose.
Dorothy Dix- traveled the country, visiting different asylums; released a report on insanity and asylums; her protests resulted in improved conditions for the mentally ill.
In 1828, the American Peace Society was formed. It was led by William Ladd.
Demon Rum - The "Old Deluder"
The problem of drinking was found in women, clergymen, and members of Congress. The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826. Its crusaders persuaded drinkers to stop drinking.
The problem of drinking tore down the family structure.
Neal S. Dow- thought that alcohol should be removed by legislation; "Father of Prohibition"; supported the Maine Law of 1851 which banned the manufacture and sale of liquor in Maine. (The country banned the sale of alcohol with the 18th amendment in 1918.)
Women in Revolt
In the early 19th century, the role of women was to stay at home and be subordinate to her husband. Women could not vote and when married, she could not retain her property. Women actually started to avoid marriage.
Gender differences were emphasized in the 19th century because the market economy was separating women and men into distinct economic roles.
Feminists met at Seneca Falls, New York in a Woman's Rights Convention in 1848 to rewrite the Declaration of Independence to include women.
Robert Owen- founded in 1825 a communal society in order to seek human betterment.
All utopias failed.
The Dawn of Scientific Achievement
Americans were more interested in practical gadgets than in pure science. Americans invented practical gadgets, but as far as basic science was concerned, Americans borrowed and adapted the findings of Europeans.
Medicine in America was still primitive by modern standards. In the early 1840s, several American doctors and dentists successfully used laughing gas and ether as anesthetics.
Between 1820 and 1850, a Greek revival in architecture came to America. Most of the ideas of art and painting were taken from Europe.
"Dixie" was the battle hymn of the Confederates and was written in 1859.
The Blossoming of a National Literature
Most of the reading material in America was imported or taken from British sources.
Following the War of Independence and the War of 1812, American literature received a boost from the wave of nationalism.
Washington Irving- the first American to win international recognition as a literary figure.
James Fenimore Cooper- the first American novelist to gain world fame.
Trumpeters of Transcendentalism
The transcendentalist movement of the 1830s resulted from a liberalizing of the Puritan theology. It also owed to foreign influences. The transcendentalists rejected the theory that all knowledge comes to the mind through the senses. Truth, rather, transcends the senses and can't be found just by observation. Associated traits included self-reliance, self-culture, and self-discipline.
Ralph Waldo Emerson- transcendentalist poet and philosopher; urged American writers to forget European traditions and write about American interests.
Henry David Thoreau- transcendentalist who believed that one should reduce his bodily wants so as to gain time for a pursuit of truth through study and meditation.
Glowing Literary Lights
Not all poets and writers of the time were transcendentalists.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow- one of the most famous poets to come from America wrote for the refined class; was adopted by the less-cultured class.
Literary Individuals and Dissenters
Edgar Allan Poe- wrote with a pessimistic tone, not like the literature at the time.
Herman Melville- writer of the novel Moby Dick.
Portrayers of the Past
A distinguished group of American historians was emerging at the same time that other international writers were coming about.