Please read the following debate topic and weigh in on the discussion taking a clear stances on the topic with 150 words and replying to another student with 100 words.

Debate Topic

Class Spreadsheet of Reformers (you may want to print as personal notes)


70 Responses to Reformers

  1. zebblackwell says:

    American reformers were indeed fighting to perfect human institutions and ideas. So many reformers were the products of religious beliefs and frontier democracy who believed in the freedom of the individual. So many reformers were abolitionists who fought for freedom of slaves and women’s suffrage. Such reformers were Nat Turner, Wendell Phillips, Theodore Dwight Weld, Susan B. Anthony, and many more. The idea of free blacks and women voting and working in the government would completely change the ideas of the established institutions. Many people did not just fight for slaves and women though. Some fought for religion, or against it. Ralph Waldo Emerson was one such man. He’s famous line tells what reformers were and what they did: “What is man for but to be a Re-former, a Re-maker of what man has made, a renouncer of lies; a restorer of truth and good…” His ideas of the individual and his rights are shown in this passage, but also the ideas of all reformers are shown. They were fighting to perfect the society in which they lived.

    • Shannon Hood says:

      I agree with your point that they were fighting to perfect society, but disagree with that they were trying to help others in order to perfect their society. Instead, they helped others so that their vision of a perfect society could come true, not so that they could actually improve someone’s life. Also, some reformed religion simply so they could live in a more ordered society. For example, when many of the “utopian” societies were created, they did not actually improve anyone’s life, and often made living more difficult. However, they did seem to create a tidier and more organized society.

  2. The American reformers of the mid 1800’s were fighting for Humanitarian rights. Many of the reformers were fighting for more religious freedom and worshiping the way they choose to among other things like women’s rights and for the abolition of slavery. They were not trying to break the laws of society, simply better the society they lived in. Yes, it’s true that they created new penitentiaries or asylums for the mentally ill but these were merely to help keep those who were criminals against the law, or struggling in society to conform to it with much more ease. Even then people like Dorothea Dix were trying to better those asylums for people. Religious reformers like Johann Georg Rapp and Joseph Smith developed and created their own religious beliefs because they were unhappy with those they had been brought up with. It can be seen from the amount of reformers who preached about health that the people of the mid 1800’s were focused on humanitarian reform. These reformers like Sylvester Graham wanted to better the people and make them healthier, not cut off all forms of life for them proving that these reformers were not just focused on themselves and their beliefs but on re-vitalizing the community as a whole.

    • akshaychandrasekhar says:

      I think that the reformers were not humanitarian. You said that asylums and penitentiaries were created so people would conform to society. I agree with this because it shows that those reformers did not care too much about the people in the asylum, rather that they should conform by being more orderly and respecting authority. I disagree with your point about religious reformers. They created new religions and doctrines in order to create a more orderly society according to them. For example, when Joseph Smith settled Utah with his people, the individual welfare of those people was not increased in any way. Therefore, creating the Church of the Latter-Day Saints was not humanitarian. The people rather benefited from a better society in their point of view. Therefore, instead of being humanitarian, a logical explanation is that it was to create a higher respect for its authority and order which was relatively accomplished.

      • jamesfortson says:

        I disagree with you Akshay because they were trying for Humaritian rights. You say that they did not have the people in mind when creating the asylums. I think that they did because these people really could not be conformed into society that well, so even if they were to keep these people in the nasty asylums of before, it still helped the society because these people are out of they’re way. So in a sense, making the aslyms penitentiaries more habitable to the people living there shows a great consideration for the people in there, not for the society. Also with the religious reforms and the creation of new sects and communities, these things were quite to improve the humanitarism of the country. This shows the idea that people are allowed to speak out for what they believe in and move to a place where they can create their idea of a “pure” society; which improves the attitude and the spirt of the people of the society.

  3. akshaychandrasekhar says:

    In the first half of the 18th century, there were many reformers. Though some were reforming for humanitarian reasons, many of the reformers were not. At the time, there were many problems in society that created disorder and chaos. Alcohol was a major problem which caused people not to do their jobs correctly. Lyman Beecher, co-founder of the American Temperance Society, was reforming to discipline alcoholics to make society better, not for the concerns of individuals. It can be argued that Sylvester Graham’s dietary reform was another way to impose a disciplinary routine on people. Being healthier was more of a side effect and motivator for people to accept the plan. Some people, however, argued that society could not be disciplined and that a new, more controllable society must be made. These people like Joseph Smith and John Noyes created new societies with an importance on order rather than humanitarian reasons. Finally, penitentiaries and mental asylums popped up in the 1830s. Dorothea Dix was appalled by previous places that held the mentally sick. She helped found the modern mental institutions. Her seemingly humanitarian actions were approved by the government because they provided more order and a higher respect for authority in those institutions. Although many reformers appeared to be making humanitarian reforms, their motivations for reform were not humanitarian.

    • dude im loving the profile pic, juss sayin.

    • I do not support your thoughts on “their motivations for reform were not humanitarian” Because as most of these reformers had harsh childhoods, where they faced the vulgarity of liquor on their families, this was one of the motivations of the movement they held. Being healthier was not a total side effect because it helped control the crude leaders of the society. As liquor became one of the reasons for a lack order in some of the leaders in the government. Strictness of liquor helped endure more trust to leaders, therefore resulting in better governing, which in turn affected the citizens. And the actions of Dorthea Dix proved vital for so many patients and individuals, she was approved of providing asylum so she could bring help to the ones who needed it, and not face the “absolute respect” or “strict disciplinary routine” which lasted in the past years. And maybe the government did not see it the same way as Dorthea but it was not the government who aided the mentally ill, they just approved of them being aided. Dorthea in return proved vital for so many souls. Her motivation was simply compassion, will power and impartiality, which were the roots of humanitarianism.

    • laelking says:

      I disagree with you that their motives were not humanitarian. It is true that stopping the alcohol problem did create some order and discipline, however, it can be argued that it was to save the individual from himself. With better and more abundance of food in America, Graham’s dietary reform was to help the health of Americans. By opening people’s eyes and teaching them about the problems of alcohol and poor diets, they were helping improve society by improving health of Americans. With the asylums, Dorothea Dix was not trying to provide more order, but to help the individuals in the asylums. Before, the asylums had been so unsanitary that they were hardly livable in. Dorothea Dix was trying to stand up for a minority group that were being wronged by society. She was trying to change the mindset of Americans to humanitarianism, trying to get them to be more caring and understanding to the mentally ill. Overall, the reformers were very much motivated by humanitarian ideals to improve the lives of everyday Americans and minority groups.

  4. First of all, throughout the “age of reform” there were a decent number of groups with variable beliefs and values. To my perspective the reform movement held mainly humanitarian causes but it also held a belief of reordering the social structure to some extent. As then, there was a rupture of abolition of slavery and neutralism of men and women. The women had been suppressed for many years now, and it was time they were seen equal and virtuous of honour and responsibility. This exact movement could be seen in the Seneca Falls Movement held by Susan B. Anthony. Where they came out with the Declaration of Sentiments that stated men and women should have equilibrium of power and rights. Susan also came out with the American Woman Suffrage Association to support the rights of voting and the voices of women being heard by the nation. Lyman Beecher who held motives in strict restriction of liquor and abolition of slavery also supported humanitarian thoughts along with Dorothea Dix, who helped make the asylums for the mentally ill, who before were taken care as of being degraded species of the human race. Now by her movement, things were changing. Thoreau also helped bring up solutions for nonviolent protesting, abolition of slavery and justification of a humanitarian government. Most of the re-formers all held values like this. And as much as these were humanitarian, they were also socialistic, because it helped bring equality, justice and a new order of temperance among individuals through reformation. Giving solutions to problems which were faced by all and also resolving it aided all and everyone in the USA. I do not think that the reform was to a full degree to separate classes or divide power to the different individuals. Mostly because, not a lot of these re-formers thought that way, some were political and personal but their beliefs all advocated around abolition of slavery, equilibrium of women and men and justification of fair treatment by the government. They all had their ups and downs but by no means were they not humanitarian.

    • nathan biyani says:

      alright your women point has nothing to do with being humanitarian. Being humanitarian is to promote human welfare, and these women had relatively good welfare. The women’s rights has to do with democracy. Dorothy Dix did not have the mentally ill in mind, moreover she had the credibility of the US. If the mental abuses had proliferated around the world, the US would be in a permanent negative spotlight, and that’s what Mrs.Dix was trying to solve for. Also you tend to digress a lot; nobody cares about all the fluff you put in your paper (like everything Susan B Anthony did) if it doesn’t relate back to the question. Also corroboration to this, the equilibrium of women’s rights and men’s rights are about social justice and democracy, not about humanitarian purposes. This doesn’t mean that you can’t link the topics in this fashion, but you unfortunately did not.

      • henrynoonan says:

        I disagree with your disagreement. Women’s rights would be related to human welfare, specifically the welfare of women. Even if the result of this movement would not be immediate, any group forced to live as second class citizens will eventually suffer because of it, and social justice should be considered necessary to the welfare of and group of people. Also knowing what various reformers did beyond simple general things would be important, since the argument is essentially whether or not they would’ve had ulterior motives for their stated goals. However, at the risk of totally agreeing with Rishi, I’d like to pose the question of why temperance could ever be considered humanitarian, since it actively restricts the rights of those subjected to it, rights being sort of important to prolonged welfare.

      • Nathan Ily

        Henry, that was an error. I didn’t mean to put it there, I was lookin at something else. LOL..i was just lazy to get it all back togetha

  5. nathan biyani says:

    The reformers during this time period had profound effects on society at the time and the future of American society, but unfortunately, these reformers did not have humanitarian rights issues as their goal, but instead the re-processing of the country instead. For example, the notion of prohibiting alcohol as a whole from workplaces had nothing to do with the well-being of people based on alcohol (if that was the purpose, alcohol would have been permanently banned), but just for the increased economic growth of the country based on these textile exports. Also, the intent on prison reform was not to remove the human rights abuses that Americans were imposing on prisoners, but the true motive was to increase international confidence in the American way of handling things. There was simply no true individualistic motive for colonists to pursue, it was all about the nation and what the nation thought of as good or bad for the stability of the US.

    • I would disagree with you Mr. Nathan Biyani because they were obviously fighting for humanitarian rights. The Temperance Act (referring to the prohibition of alcohol in your passage above) was to help the society and make people more healthy and better in living because alcohol had and still has bad affects on the body. Back then people wouldn’t have been able to work efficiently if they were so concerned with alcohol. Also, the people of the 1800’s believed deeply in religion. Drinking alcohol would’ve slightly gone against that so they were doing it for the humanistic reforms of making a cleaner, healthier society. This is what they were trying to do with all the abolition of slavery and women’s rights also.

      • So I will disagree with your disagreement.

        Your response confuses me to an extent because you argue that the imposed temperance was intended for humanitarian purposes, but then in the next sentence you say that without it, people would not have been able to function well in their economic environments. The fact that temperance was to improve labor quality in the workplace proves that the reform was not intended (at least completely) for humanitarian purposes. These reformers could have cared less if someone drank himself to death (it was his choice after all– transcendentalism promoted individualistic standpoints); instead, they cared that he hindered his workplace economically while drunk. Theoretically, temperance equates to better economic output and therefore national prosperity.

      • timboluu says:

        Err…yeah, I’m going to disagree with you, homeskills (James). You said that people would not be able to work efficiently if they were so concerned with alcohol. Also, you said that drinking alcohol went against the religious beliefs of the people. That’s exactly what made the reforms for temperance non-Humanitarian based. These reformers were more concerned that the efficiency of the workers was going down rather than the welfare of the human beings. Also, the fact that many of these reformers were strictly religious shows that these reformers were due not to their concern for the health of the persons, but rather, for the sake of following their religious beliefs and opposing anything that went against their beliefs. Thus, we see that the concern for Humanitarian rights was not the primary motive for these reformers, but rather, it was due to their want for a better society and their need to follow strict religious beliefs. Shazam.

    • oliviajeff says:

      I will disagree with your point on temperance as well. The main intent of the temperance movement was to promote a safe household environment for the family. The cold water drinkers promoted sober fatherhood to prevent children and spouses from being abused. It was only after this original point was made that businesses began to promote it because it was also advantageous to them. Therefore, to say that this movement had nothing to do with the well being of people is entirely wrong, because that was the whole point of it. Therefore, because it promoted safety through sobriety in families, this was a humanitarian movement.

    • Sundeep Bhanot says:

      ok so Nathan. FIRST i would like to talk about how the Carolina Panthers got murdered by the Bears 23-6. that had to be they worst game on TV this weekend. Your team sucks.

      Now on to the responce.
      I disagree with you because i believe the soul purpose of the American reformers was to fight for human rights and to make America a better place for everyone to live. You talked about beer in your post, last time i checked Nathan, beer has really really bad affects on your body. By stopping the consumption of beer, it would have led to a clean city, and a healthy city. Because when people are usually drunk they have no idea what they are doing and could easily just through away a bottle in the middle of the street. Haven’t you seen the Hangover? And as Brendan has already said, the reformers cared about how these people handled the local economy, if they were drunk on the job, they that could not only cause major injures but also slow down production.

    • abhipandya says:

      Nathan, i would have to disagree. To use your example, alcohol, many wanted it banned PRIMARILY to serve to better the people. The Pageant talks about how men would come home and treat women and children unfairly due to the large amount of drinking. People didn’t necessarily think that if people stopped drinking, we could have a better economy, in my opinion. Lets look at another example: slavery. What exactly was the reformers intent? Dont you agree that it was to create equality throughout society? To make everyone equal and no distinction among whites and blacks? If so, that would be an attempt of making a perfect democracy and world, which i believe was the reformers intent. Im interested to see your response, so respond! 😀

  6. So this is a pretty cool topic.

    While I am sure that during and around the so-called “Era of Good Feelings” antebellum reformers initiated reform at least in part for humanitarian purposes, I believe the ultimate goal of the reformers was to enhance the position of the United States relative to the other countries in the world — to be more individualistic, powerful, and prosperous.

    Some of the more noteworthy reforms included more sanitary prisons, abolition attempts against slavery and alcohol, and improved education. All of these reforms in one way or another contributed to an overall sense of self-interest for the country. Prisons were made more sanitary not for the benefit of the prisoners– but for the concept that prisoners could be renewed and made good again, as opposed to the orthodox mindset that prisoners would remain vile forever. This played on the sentiment of the country’s theme–that anyone could improve their positions in America. The abolition attempts against slavery were not made to benefit the slaves; in fact, in many northern states (where abolition was most common), abolitionists despised the race in general. Instead, the idea may have been more selfish. If you give slaves the freedom they deserve, suddenly they owe you their lives– just not in an economic sense. Free blacks would be more motivated to help their country, as opposed to slaves who were anything but encouraged to perform at the fullest of their abilities. In addition, abolishing slavery would improve the ideology of America in general– back to the premise of the Constitution– that all men are created equal. Prohibition and the improvement of slavery are topics that speak for themselves; making the consumption of alcohol illegal would improve workers’ performance in the workplace (and perhaps even increase the number), and education would cause the country to grow more in research and industry than others in the world.

    Overall, while the antebellum reform inspired by movements like the Second Great Awakening and the Era of Good Feelings did have positive, humanitarian, effects on citizens, it was ultimately initiated by nationalistic ideals.

  7. henrynoonan says:

    While an argument can be made that the reformers had ulterior motives, it doesn’t hold up in some or even most of the cases. Certainly reforms like the temperance movement have obvious indirect benefits such as more productive workers or more structure in the case of prison reforms. On the other hand, Women’s rights and abolitionist leaders had little or nothing to gain aside from their stated goals, and certainly could in no way be called conservative, since they would aim to fundamentally alter the society in which they lived. Other reformers, especially the collectivist utopianists would have something to lose personally if they accomplished their goals. A middle class person (as most if not all of them were) would have no personal gain beyond a sense of accomplishment to spend their money promoting welfare of their communities. Robert Owen for instance had a large mansion-like estate which he converted in to a community center of sorts for his collectivist group. While it would be very narrow-minded to group all these individuals into a simple yes or no answer, for most of the reformers there are no real ulterior goals to obtain, especially when so many took personal losses in their campaigns.

  8. timboluu says:

    Though it may have seemed that American reformers were fighting for the sake of Humanitarian rights, it is to my belief that the reformers were actually NOT fighting for those rights; rather, they were fighting for the betterment of society, not being concerned with the happiness and welfare of the people. For example, taking a look at slavery, one would think that many people were for abolitionism because they were concerned with the well-being of the slaves. However, knowing that the primary reason for general reform was religion, it is seen that the underlying motive to free slaves was because many reformers such as William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan believed that slavery was a sin, thus it needed to be abolished, not because slaves were being treated poorly. Even on the issue of temperance was religion a key motivating factor. While people like Lyman Beecher founded societies like the American Temperance Society because again, they were religious and saw the need to reform such issues based on their religious views, others were against drinking because it interfered with work as well, reducing the efficiency of the workers and causing a high chance for accidents. We see that reformers were not only reforming based on their religious views, but also because the reforms would change society for the better. Even in the education reform, where Horace Mann was said to be reforming the schools so that the children could be better people, it can be argued that this reform was so that the children could be raised for a better society. Thus, we see that although reformers seemed to be fighting for Humanitarian rights, the real motive was because of religion and the betterment of society.

    • folukeo says:

      Okay yes I will agree with you on the fact that they did fight for the betterment of society, but I will differ in that there reasons behind the reforms. Alcohol could be seen as a way of reducement of work, but there reason to fight against it was that it lead to sickness and death of drinkers. The idea of alcohol affecting factory work and crime came years after the reformers worked to spread the idea of temperence. Yes, the schools were established for the children to grow up to become better aldults for a better society but the people who reform the schools were fighting for something else. The textbooks were made better so as to instill good values into the young ones. And the better teachers were there so as to help the kids learn better.

    • I would have to say I disagree with your point on slavery. The reason why they viewed slavery as a sin was because it was inhumane. The underlying motive is still humanitarianism. The same goes for Horace Mann’s reforming of schools. Perhaps he wanted the children to go to school so they could be raised for a “better society”. But one could also argue that this “better society” would be a society with more humanitarianism – one that is not keeping little children working in factories 14 hours a day. So even though they might have had other motivations besides humanitarianism, it was still the ultimate reason for their work.

    • Just wanted to elaborate on Horace Mann’s motivation – in his Tenth Annual Report the the Massachusetts State Board of Education, he state that one of the main reasons for free public schools is that the knowledge that they impart is “indispensable to the continuance of a republic government.” This would indicate that he supported it on the basis of social order rather that humanitarianism. This is supported by his statements that “an educated people is always a more industrious and productive people, ” and that “intelligence is a primary ingredient in the wealth of nations.” And while Mann mentions these only as prior arguments, as his personal opinion he states that he believes that every person has a right to an education – and that it is the government’s responsibility to provide it. This, along with Mann being in a government position (secretary of MA BoE), and his support of teaching morality in schools, strongly indicates that he was much more motivated by reinforcing authority and social order than humanitarianism.

  9. taylorrwhite says:

    I believe that the American Reformers were fighting for Humanitarian rights. Some wanted people of all races and sexes to be treated equally. Others wanted the middle and lower classes to have the same privileges as the upper class, such as education. Most of the reformers believed in women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. A lot of them worked hard to have everyone treated with the respect that they deserved.
    One example would be Dorthea Dix who worked hard to improve the conditions for the emotionally disturbed. She wanted to make sure they got the treatment they needed to become more stable. Another example would be Horace Mann who created public schools for all social classes and made sure that the children got the education they needed. Also, William Lloyd Garrison fought hard to abolish slavery. He created the American Antislavery Society in opposition. These people and many others wanted all people to be treated equally and have the same rights. They didn’t want people to treat discriminate against other people based on what they looked like and what they had.

    • kavyadurbha says:

      I disagree with your point about the motivation of the reformers. Although these people claimed to have moral and humanitarian motives for their actions, they were actually just creating a more appealing society. Dorothea Dix, for example, stowed away all of the mentally ill in a place that called for discipline and respect toward authority. Having these people out of the way produced the illusion of a more orderly society in America. Although the reformers may have been partially motivated by bettering the individual, it can be argued that the main purpose in these movements was to better the appearance of American society as a whole.

      • folukeo says:

        Yes Mrs. Dix put the people in a place where they out of society. But she was trying to better these poor people had been treated. She took them out of unhelathy conditions and put them in a place where they were safe. Dorothea did not want to improve the appearence of America she wanted to help those in need.

  10. oliviajeff says:

    Reformers during the antebellum period were standing for their causes for mostly humanitarian reasons. For instance, people under the Transcendentalist movement sought to promote happiness through introspection and a closeness to nature. They removed themselves from the growing capitalist ideals of industrialization and promoted the idea of a general human goodness. Also, the overall goal of the temperance movement was to improve home life by making “cold water” drinkers. The idea was to stop fathers from abusing children and women by forcing them to become sober. Other humanitarian movements included the women’s rights, education reform which was instilled to make a successful future generation, and prison improvements. These all were humanitarian because they sought to make a change in society for the betterment of people and the republic as a whole.

  11. jamesfortson says:

    At examining many of the reformer’s points and arguments, I believe that the reformers of antibellum America were strictly based on reforming general humanitarian rights. With the major points such as slave’s rights, women’s right’s, and public rights (aslymums, slum conditions, standing up for the poor); these men and women were quite evidently trying to improve the humaritarian conditions of the common man. Slavery, the major point of reform headed by people such as Theodore Weld, was a huge step to improve the conditons of all people of America. Slaves made up a good sized portion of the southern population and with the strict laws imposed on them, they have never been allowed to follow the American dream. So these abolitionists were there to improve the good of a minority of the people, a great humanitarian goal. The same goes with women’s rights, though they have more freedom than slaves, they have never really been allowed to speak out much and to pursue what they really dream of. That’s where women like Susan B. Anthony come into play, helping to raise the status of women. The other reformers stood for humanitarian rights because the improvement of living conditions for the average and poor man was a growing problem that needed correction.

    • franklyfranny says:

      I disagree with you Forston. Although the reformers actions benefited many individual groups, their motives were not completely humanitarian. The majority of the reforms began shortly after the Era of Good Feelings. At the end of the Era of Good Feeling, American people were feeling a great sense of responsibility for their nation. It can be said that the influence of Jacksonian Democracy was a reason for these reforms by emphasizing the importance of individual citizens. Their reforms reflected a need to change their environment for the better. These reforms can be seen as a direct effect of the Industrial Revolution.

  12. laelking says:

    The American reformers in the antebellum period were motivated by humanitarian ideals and desire to improve American society. With the democratic ideals from the Revolutionary War and the spirit from the Second Great Awakening, reformers sought to carry humanitarian views to their society. Abolitionist reformers, such as Phillips, Weld, Garrison, and Beecher, sought to end slavery and giving African Americans freedom and some limited rights. Women reformers sought to change the role of women in society. They wanted to extend the ideals of democracy and rights that were stated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to women. The right of property, suffrage, and equality were the ideals that reformers such as Stanton and Anthony fought for. Other reformers such as Mann pushed to move the country towards better education. Overall, the reformers were trying to improve society by opening up opportunities and extending rights to all groups of people in American society.

  13. Shannon Hood says:

    Although many reformers in the early 18th century claimed to support humanitarian goals, they instead wanted to either hide society’s miscreants away from public view, or to help them simply so that society would appear better. They tried to impose stricter rules governing society, and tried to tidy the low-lives up so they fit into society. They didn’t help people for the people’s sake, but rather for their own. For example, Dorthea Dix helped to create more sanitary prisons and insane asylums. However, this was not necessarily only for the benefit of the people in prison, but also to make it appear as though society was cleaner, and that they could take care of the poor prisoners. In addition, they imposed stricter rules in the prisons, sometimes even using a father-child relationship to control the prisoners. The Temperance Movement, which was helped along by Lyman Beecher, simply helped the alcoholics so that society appeared better, not just to help the alcoholics themselves. In short, the reformers tried to make society appear nicer rather than actually trying to help people.

    • sarinadodhia says:

      I disagree with your statement that the upper class simply want to clean up the lower classes because the wealthy and upper/middle classes thrived off of the low class. For example, southern plantation owners could not have a business with out slaves, and in the northern factories, business owners couldnt thrive with out their cheap labor force. In addition, Dorthea Dix had no personal gain from advocating for asylums, and neither did society except for the fact that they were treated humanely. Drinking amongst men was rather popular until the Temperance Movement, so men wouldnt stop just drinking to clean up society, but rather to better themselves and to follow their faith.

  14. kavyadurbha says:

    Although many reformers of the antebellum period may have been somewhat motivated by humanitarian goals, their actions resulted in a society with strict discipline and respect for authority. It can be said that the reformers had in mind the society as a whole, but not the individual. In order to reconstruct the nation as one of order and control, they enacted movements such as the temperance movement, the cult of domesticity, and the American Colonization Society. While the American Temperance Society may have seemed like a moral and humanitarian association, it can be argued that the reformation began in order to increase worker output in factories and boost the national economy, not for the welfare of the people. Also, the cult of domesticity, though defined as an idealized view of women as moral leaders and educators, in fact may have subjected women to even more oppression by society. Lastly, the American Colonization Society, which many thought of as an honorable foundation with humanitarian motivations, was supported most vigorously by politicians with racist attitudes that hoped to get rid of free blacks, thinking it would better American society.

    • Hali Holloway says:

      Really though you have adressed only half of the reformers. What about the wemon who went against the ideas of the cult of domestisity? They wanted to be seen as equals to men that were intelegent enough to participate in politics and had a voice in society. They rejected the idea that they were suposed to be subject to the men in their life and that they were not able to participate in politics and should therefore not be allowed to learn the same things as them. Also you left out the abolitionists who wanted to free the black slaves. This would create more chaos in the nation than discipline and order. The aboltionists were not iterested in order, slavery did more for order than freeing the slaves would. If their sole purpose was to organize and discipline society then they would not have argued to abollish slavery at all.

      • Varun Gopal says:

        I also differ with Kavya for various reasons. First, the temperance reform can also be argued from the standpoint that there was abuse by males against females and also there was much consumption of alchohol by women which hurt the development of children. Also, the Cult of Domesticity was added as a means for women to express to each other their roles within society it wasn’t really a reform. Moreover, the American Colonization Society was founded also on the idea to “pay off a debt” to the slaves by taking them back to their homeland. Thus, this action was backed on humanitarian ideas. Moreover, one could also argue that the reforms in the asylum and school were not really individualistic reforms but more for the society ( for all of humanity) in that, they helped to better the conditions of the mentally ill and allowed for people of almost all socio-economic classes to participate in a crucial step in a child’s development.

    • kushalheg94 says:

      (since it wasn’t specified that we had to disagree and had to debate someone I’m going to comment here).

      I really liked you’re reflection post because you had similar points to mine. I like how you addressed the movements and then gave specifications for that movement. My favorite part was how you called the politicians racist because they were and they didn’t really care about anyone. Even today we can see politicians sometimes being racist mostly biased though, well they are politicians not much expected there. Although I agree with you on many of your points, something still remains to hesitate me in my mind. Would it not have been smarter to improve the individuals? Because if you look at it, suppose you are a dragon trainer – reformer – and have a few dragons, and all of them are evil and want to kill you but you need all of them to work together for the annual . If you go around taming them individually you have this ultimate dragon force who will knock that parade out the park but if you train them as a whole, like how the reformers wanted to improve the society, you get a moderate dragon force parade thing till the parade is over then the dragons go back to wanting to kill you.

      Honestly I have no idea how I came up with that analogy, and I realize I contradicted myself but it’s 11:06 and I only slept a few hours this early morning, plus this past hour all I did was go around flipping pictures of Mr. Wong.

  15. Hali Holloway says:

    American reformers were struggling to improve the way Americans viewed certain minorities. Many people argue that the reformers were just trying to protect their own self interest and did not care about the humanitarian aspect. But, in fact, there are several examples of reformers who not only had little to gain by their endeavor but put their life on the line for it. Reformers like William Lloyd Harrison were threatened with lynching because they sought freedom for African Americans. If they were only protecting themselves getting killed would be counterproductive. He was a white man; what did he and other white abolitionists have to gain by freeing the black slaves. In some cases by protecting their own self interests, they are protecting the interest of future generations of people like them. Susan B Anthony was not just fighting for her own rights as a woman, but all other women as well.

    • astaristarry says:

      I loved how you said that white abolitionists have little to gain from becoming abolitionists, and I definitely agree. William Lloyd Garrison insisted on his ideals that slavery is a committed sin; but he merely advocated religious reasons behind abolishing slavery to accomplish humanitarian goals. White abolitionists are taking such a great risk in speaking out against slavery because of its magnitude in the South; saying that it is to protect his self-interest would be hypocritical.

  16. Varun Gopal says:

    I think that the Antebellum Reforms were motivated by Humanitarian goals for many reasons. First, the reforms made in regards to the Asylum were made by Mrs. Dixie, who had no motivation to enforce more political control over the individuals but she also did this for the asylum which did not really have problems with enforcement of laws. She did these reforms to ensure that asylum members were not inmates of prisoners. Another example is evident in the education reform made by Mr. Mann which made free public schools which were tax based. This shows the humanitarian causes for the reforms because it ensured that many of the children got their education in order to ensure their success. Moreover, other reforms where aided by Humanitarian intents such as the abolitionist movements because people realized that slavery was hurting the idea of equality. The Temperance reform was also a humanitarian effort in order to ensure that families were not harmed by the consumption of alcohol. Thus, the reforms were aided by Humanitarian intents.

  17. folukeo says:

    I think the reformers were Humarians. Because of the Second Great Awakining people felt they had to fix the world around them and the wrong that people were doing. A section from the Pagent states “These mondern idealists dreamed anew the old Putriain vision of a perfect society: free from cruelty, war, intoxicating drink, discrimination…..” These people were tryin to better people because they saw it as right. Many communities were made religously.. as a way they think that human beings should live. The Oneida Community was made by a man who was trying to make a better religous community. Many of the nineteenth-century uthopians wanted to do the same thing. Create a community that was show the most perfect society in hope that the whole nation would covert to it.
    The fighters against alcohol, the ones that wanted temperence brought about drastic change for the American people. Their views that soceity needed to be able to survive without the pity and heartbreak of alcohol brought upon laws that ban the drink. Showing that they wanted to help all of human kinds instead of just the nation itself.

    • Laudan Ghahramani says:

      I do agree on why you think that the antebellum reform was motivated primarily by humanitarian goals in many ways. The reformers thought of many things to help and improve the society its self. Many Americans thought that creating campaigns would help stand for woman’s rights and eliminate slavery; however this would improve the society. A professor of history Alice Felt Tyler said that American reformers in the antebellum period focused on religion and democracy to help perfect the human institutions. He is right; I do believe that the antebellum reform predominantly encouraged and motivated goals and ideals of the Americans.

    • lirichard says:

      I would tend to disagree that the reformation was motivated by humanitarian causes. First of all, the people behind the temperance movement were more so concerned with the productivity of the worker than his actual health; the reason they fought against alcohol was that they were worried that the said worker would be unable to work today. The utopian communities were inspired by religion to comply with their religious beliefs. Having challenged human reason with the Second Great Awakening, these were established based on societal motivations, rather than for man, in that they were just trying to improve society as a group.

  18. Laudan Ghahramani says:

    The Antebellum reform was motivated primarily by humanitarian goals due to the influences of human ideas, and democratic ideals. The antebellum reform was also called “The Second Great Awakening” and for the most part it was entirely a religious movement. Religion was a major role in the lives of all citizens during the building and expansion of the United States. Reformers during this movement wanted to mainly improve the condition of inmates in the country’s prisons and asylums , as well as encouraging temperance or even abstinence from drinking. They also looked at other problems during this time such as, peace in the world, improving educational system, and clothing reform for women. People wanted to accomplish and fix these goals. Many Americans had created campaigns to help support the woman and eliminate slavery; they did this to improve the society. So we can see that the antebellum reform was primarily motivated by humanitarian goals.

  19. Reformers such as Dorothy Dix, Margaret Fuller, William Lloyd Garrison, Arthur Tappen, and many others were indeed motivated by humanitarian goals. Although there were some who only wanted change within their own society concerning religion that didn’t affect those suffering from lack of humanitarianism, reformers were primarily concerned with improving the lives of the lower classes. They stood up for those who had no rights, such as women, slaves, and those in mental asylums. Dorothy Dix worked to improve living conditions for those in mental hospitals who were locked up in unsanitary conditions. Margaret Fuller sought equality for women; Garrison and Tappen fought for slave’s rights. Besides these, reformers such as Sylvester Graham and others who stood against alcoholism and advocated healthy lifestyles were indirectly supporting humanitarian goals. It is inhumane for people to continue in their unhealthy lifestyles without having the education to know what is good for them. The vast majority of reformers during this time period, whether directly or indirectly, were motivated by humanitarian goals.

    • jooyoungsong says:

      I agree with your view of how many people were motivated by humanitarian goals and rights. I like how you divided up the reasons and gave an example for each. Just to add more details into each of them, Margaret Fuller influenced Italy through editing the Dial, a journal. Garrison was the first to publish an anti slavery issue in the Liberator, a newspaper, which started the American Anti Slavery Society. The Tappan brothers, rich New York merchants, supported Weld, got into Lane Theological Seminary, got kicked out because they debated on slavery for 18 days, and then started preaching about anti slavery.

  20. astaristarry says:

    I definitely believe that most of the reformers were primarily motivated by humanitarian goals. A lot of people here argued over Dorothea Dix and the asylums, but you can’t neglect the advocates of women’s rights; namely, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. For these female activists, there are no other type of motivation other than bettering the treatment of women in the society as a whole. Throughout history, women have been regarded as subservient who must abide to the “cult of domesticity.” These women, however, are passionately and tirelessly fighting for the equality of women and the right to vote. Similarly, abolitionists–black in particular–are fighting for humanitarian goals. Former slaves such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth became abolitionists to speak on behalf of all the free or non-free slaves nationwide who were suffering from either brutal treatments or racial prejudice. Both abolitionists and women’s rights activists are fighting for the betterment of society and the well-being of future generations rather than creating respect for higher authority.

    • Oh Oryza, of course yours is so optimistic and positive. 😛

      At the time of all these reformers, however, I do disagree that it was with humanitarian goals. Yes, now looking back, feminism seems like it’s for the benefit of all women, however it has to be one of the most selfish movements there are. Ever heard of a male feminist? At least with abolitionists there were blacks and whites involved, which shows that it might not have been entirely self-serving. With feminism, it’s a bunch of women unhappy with society trying to better their own lives. Not that anything is wrong with trying to better the place of women in society, obviously, because I can’t imagine not being given the opportunities women have today, but no, I don’t see how it’s a humanitarian goal in the least.

  21. kushalheg94 says:

    People were reforming back in the day like it was the new and cool thing to do, similar to a child receiving a new toy. Reformers were not really concerned with the individuals more than they were concerned with the society as a whole. This can be seen in many creations of the reformers such as the cult of domesticity and the american temperance society. Many problems were occurring during the 18th century, which . Many men were coming home drunk and mistreating their wives. Sometimes even the wives were drunk and this caused much mishap. There were reformers, such as the religious Beecher, who were making about drinking to help improve the society not the individual. A movement of the reformers was the American Colonization society. The people who led this were politicians, which basically proves that they were biased. Reformers did not really care about individuals and wanted to create a tight society.

  22. sarinadodhia says:

    Some argue that reformers of the Antebellum period were motivated by enforcing discipline in society, however it is my belief that the reformers were motivated by Humanitarian reasons. The northern state’s economy was mostly industrial, and depended on the mass production of cotton, carried out by slaves; yet, the north was the region that was most concentrated with Abolitionists, so clearly, there was no economic motivation for abolitionists. Abolitionists such as Fedrick Douglas helped black slaves escape to the north or Canada where slavery was illegal, risking their lives for others, clearly showing that there is no physical self gain for themselves. Society had viewed women to be “stay at home moms” however in this period, women started protesting women suffrage as a result of antislavery movements. Women such as Susan B. Anthony advocated for all women’s rights. And yes, women started to play a role in the work force such as the Lowell, however, this was a part of the women’s movement, not for economic and disciplinary gain. Dorthea Dix was an advocate for people with mental diseases to be treated humanely, and many people followed this principle, as can be seen though the multiple asylums that were opened as a result of this. It is evident that reformers sought to reform society from within as there was simply wrong doing which needed to be fixed.

    • sanaazami says:

      I disagree because though it is true that some genuinely wanted the best for others around them, most only supported reforms so that they could have more people think their own way and from their gain more support, almost like a political party. One great abolitionist was Nat turner, for example, who believed that the best way to get others to agree with you was to simply make it so that they did not speak at all. Instead of creating a society of reform , these people created large fissures throughout the political field of America, something that, if suppressed, may have very well kept the Civil War under wraps.

  23. beejalvadhar says:

    Many of the reformers were influenced by humatinatrian rights. Many debated womens’ rights and slavery, especially the Grimke sisters. Sarah had actually witnessed a slave being whipped, which changed her whole view about slavery. The “Cult of Domesticity” is about the role of women and the relationship between the sexes. Although the Grimke sisters had joined the Quakers, they were kinda forced out mainly because they were abolitionists. The Quakers thought that abolitionists were too outspoken–which Angelina and Sarah Grimke were. Even though the Quakers thought this way about the abolitionists, they still had a same beliefs that slaves should be free. They were thinking in the sense of improving humankind and how America should be viewed.

    • beejalvadhar says:

      I definitely agree. I like your statement about how the North depended on the South but the NOrth included more abolitionists, thus having no economic motivation. Also about Lowell, it was definitely part of their movement to increase womens’ rights. Also almost everyone’s person example had their thoughts for the public, or majority–slavery and women–therefore, no gain for themselves. I pretty much agree with everything you said because mine was similar to this–like the majority of everyone elses 😛

  24. Sundeep Bhanot says:

    I think it is true to say that American reformers were fighting to perfect human ideas. Many of the reformers of this time were fighting for religion, as well as female representation and the abolishment of slavery. These people were trying to make America a better place to live. One of these reformers would be Joseph Smith, a man who basically branched off a whole new religion of his own because he was unhappy with the beliefs that surrounded him. Also people were very involved in the community, such as Dorothy Dix, a woman who tried to make mental institutions a better place for those there. As far as human rights go, I think there were many reformers such as Theodore Graham, who was a man focused on making America a healthier place for people. Therefore, i do believe that the American reformers of this time were out perfect the central idea of human life.

  25. I believe that the antebellum reformers cannot be generalized as either being motivated primarily by humanitarian reasons or by the maintaining of societal order; both reasons appear to be represented fairly equally between the movements. Women’s rights and abolition are good examples of humanitarian movements. For reformers in this area, such as Susan B. Anthony and the Grimke sisters, trying to maintaining a social order would be antithetical to their goals; in fact, the attainment of either women’s rights or abolition would cause a huge societal upset, especially the latter. Not all reforms, however, were so humanitarian; education reform, for example. Horace Mann, a major proponent in the movement for free public education, wrote that an “educated people is always a more industrious and productive people,” which is right in line with Rothman’s view that reform was mainly an attempt to reinforce the authority of the upper classes. Some reforms can easily be seen either way; improved asylum conditions, for example, brought to attention by Dorthea Dix, can be seen as either a movement to impose authority and morality on the patients/inmates, or as a compassionate move to help less able persons.

  26. lirichard says:

    I’ll contend that the Antebellum Reform actually was not motivated by humanitarian goals. I think the primary reason that the reform was not moved by reasons to promote human welfare, but rather to satisfy their religious views. Namely, it was the Second Great Awakening, a religious movement, that actually initiated the antebellum period. The Second Great Awakening began as a reaction against rationalism, or belief in human reason; if people were questioning human reason, then what value would people have otherwise? So obviously one would not find motivation in reformation. In contrast, I believe that the Antebellum Reform was more so motivated by society. The condemnation of sex, for instance, was a way that depicted the way people tried to make their place in society through their manners and etiquette; mostly, make their place in society. The same idea applies to drinking and the temperance movement also; while the people driving the movement appeared to be concerned of the individual person’s health when it came to drinking, they were actually more so worried about the efficiency of the person at work and how much drinking would hold him back. Going back to religion, some would say that drinking was sinful or dirty, and that it should be motivated. Other movements, such as the anti slavery and education movements, were motivated similarly – by religion and society.

  27. jooyoungsong says:

    I completely agree with Professor of history Alice Felt Tyler. The antebellum reform was primarily and solely motivated by humanitarian goals. The Second Great Awakening, the revival of religion, the rise of public education, women’s rights, literary movements, temperance and ban of alcohol drinking, and the abolition of slavery all were to reform human’s rights that were not recognized. These movements are clearly shown mostly in women and slaves. Being part of the lowest classes possible, they were living without voting rights, cruel punishment, and as toys for men. Sojourner Truth, as an example, was a former black female slave who experienced cruel stuff. She ran away and strongly fought for anti slavery and women’s rights because she wanted lighten the mood of all the suffering individuals. These were all created for individual humanitarian rights. The Cold Water Army was created to stop heavy drinking because it clearly had a bad effect on society. Though it wasn’t very successful, why would they even try if they did not even care about individual humanitarian rights?

  28. Most reformers of the 18th century were not in fact fighting for humanitarian ideals but were fighting for a new way of order in society. Society at the time, structured as it was, had a few issues that citizens thought should be dealt with. Rather than balancing out the issues, reformers sought to rid society of them completely, thus utopian communities sprung up left and right. These communities came with problems of their own, because it is difficult to completely change someone’s way of living over night, and for what? For example, in the New Harmony community all members practiced abstinence from sexual activity. However, this is something that humans instinctively do to survive. Taking this away from its citizens, of course, led to New Harmony’s eventual disappearance. Not all reformers sought to create a society separate from that in which they already lived. Those preaching temperance thought that alcohol should be removed from society in order to allow everyone to function better at work. However, alcohol has been around for an extremely long time, and most people found it ridiculous to take alcohol away from everyone just because some choose to abuse it.

  29. franklyfranny says:

    Although reformers achieved humanitarian goals, their reforms were all products of their need for control. People were heavily influenced by events such as the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was a time of many fundamental changes in America. Many inventions promoted change in many industries as well as many people’s lives. The reforms can be seen as one of the social effects of the Revolution. As many of the reforms took place in the North, the fast paced, changing climate of the cities created many problems. The reformers saw those problems as an opportunity to take responsibility and improve their nation. This principle is an influence of Jacksonian politics and the Second Great Awakening. Jacksonian principles pushed heavily on individual responsibility for government. The Second Great Awakening inspired many people to take charge of their fate because of the new influence of the church. Many of those so called “humanitarian” reforms can be seen as nothing more than charity work used to clear people’s conscience. Reformers achieved respectable humanitarian goals however, their motives for achieving those goals were based off the social, political and religious events of their time.

  30. abhipandya says:

    I think that the reformers kept in mind, only the need to create a perfect world and perfect democracy, when making the decision to reform. In terms of democracy, “all men are crated equally,” but when actually looking at the situations at the time, they were clearly not. Men, blacks in particular, lacked so many rights that were given to white males. Indeed, this was not a perfect democracy in that they had no right no vote, many couldn’t own property, and socially, they were not equal. This notion ties into slavery, and how slave revolts happened in order to fix these situations and this unjust notion of white superiority. The reformers argued that the society at the time needed immediate changes, and a large amount of abolitionists arose to combat slavery. This serves as just one of the many examples of how there was no perfect world, or democracy at the time causing this need for reform. Whether it be through slavery, womens rights, or politics, the times were unjust which caused many to create equality throughout the society; an attempt to create a perfect society and democracy, much like what was the intention of the reformers.

  31. sanaazami says:

    The reformers, under the banner of humanitarianism, brought to life many cruelties and disasters. For example, Nat Turner, who worked for freeing blacks, thought it was best to just kill the white population for revenge. Also Mother Ann Lee was a failed humanitarian reformer. Though her drive toward celibacy was meant with all goodness her work did not remain long term so that all of the work and effort that went into her organization and collection of adopted children fell to pieces not long after her death. The only reason that Dorothy Dix helped those mentally disturbed was to make them conform to society. For the most part the people instituted into her place were those that were dyslexic, or free thinking, or those girls that had become pregnant before their time and whose families wanted to spirit them away.

    Instead of creating a reformed society it seems as if these personalities were just switching around the social order so that their point of view would become the most widely practiced.

  32. nicholaswhaling says:

    I believe that the reformers were motivated by humanitarian goals. Most were trying to give rights to every human no matter what race or gender. They were doing this because they unlike many people during their time they saw these people as humans. Wendell Phillips started going against slavery when he saw how crew men could be to each other after William Garrison was almost lynched after a speech. Some people like Grimke, even though her gender was still not equal tried to free slaves. She could have just focused on her needs and rights but instead she did the humane thing and tried to help those more in need. Dorothea Dix tried to make asylums more humane for people who required them. Even though asylums are humane she was doing this just to help people who she no real connection to.

  33. Jasmine Singleton says:

    Antebellum America had some humanitarianism ideas, but was not the true cause for Antebellum America. The Americans wanted a new society. They wanted more rights, equality and to advance economically. Women wanted the same rights as men were allowed. It is clearly evident that the women were capable to manage land/business along with take care of the home. This was evident when America was at war with Great Britain. The men took notice of that and thus made mother’s the “democratic mother”. Mothers were to be educated so that they may teach their children to be better people in society. Women not only wanted more rights, but abolitionists and slaves more rights as well. Obviously slaves would not be happy with the treatment toward them. But outsiders (abolitionists) too saw the cruelness and inequality African Americans received. Abolitionist and free slaves thus fought for equality and better treatment of slaves. America was also out for advancement economically. Transcendentalism arose, machine factories were invented for the north, and while cruel, slavery in the south was an advancement in their particular economy.

  34. sharukh says:

    I think that the reformers kept in mind, only the need to create a perfect world and perfect democracy, when making the decision to reform. In terms of democracy, “all men are crated equally,” but when actually looking at the situations at the time, they were clearly not. Men, blacks in particular, lacked so many rights that were given to white males. Indeed, this was not a perfect democracy in that they had no right no vote, many couldn’t own property, and socially, they were not equal. This notion ties into slavery, and how slave revolts happened in order to fix these situations and this unjust notion of white superiority. The reformers argued that the society at the time needed immediate changes, and a large amount of abolitionists arose to combat slavery. This serves as just one of the many examples of how there was no perfect world, or democracy at the time causing this need for reform. Whether it be through slavery, womens rights, or politics, the times were unjust which caused many to create equality throughout the society; an attempt to create a perfect society and democracy, much like what was the intention of the reformers

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