Reforms Introduced in America from 1825 – 1850 to Expand Democratic Ideals

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The years 1825 to 1850 saw a number of changes in the lives of Americans in that period. The reforms introduced during that period were all-encompassing and life-changing, which changed not only individual lives but that of the society as well. These reforms were directed towards the expansion of democratic ideals in the country.

Changes include the creation of the rights of the children, the need for temperance to economic reforms – all these are geared towards attaining democratic process. Changes in public service and creation of “utopian societies” were introduced around this period.

The economy received a great boost from remarkable inventions such as steamboat and cotton gin. Reforms for cities, workers and attainment of temperance were but a few of the reform movements in the United States in the period 1825-1850. Reform movements were particularly noticeable in the following areas: education, temperance, women’s rights, Utopian experiments and penal institutions.

Temperance was widely preached in churches. Temperance was aimed to the “most abandoned profligates” which means the drunkards, harlots and infidels. Churches sought to convert these undesirable members of the society.

Feminist movements demanding their right to vote also sprouted in the 1850’s. Women want to have more freedom, equal to what men have enjoyed. Also, they demanded that “disgraceful” laws such as that which allow men to imprison his wife be abandoned.

Around 1830’s new services to cities were established such as improved safety services, jail systems and welfare services. There was also a rising tide of immigrants coming in. In the 1830s and 1840s, the quest for “manifest destiny” came to be. Manifest destiny referred to the Americans’ quest for freedom and the need to spread democracy and Protestantism to foreign lands. Territorial expansion then became a primary goal. Thus, creating the need for more immigrants in America. Certain laws such as the naturalization of immigrants were also being considered around this time.

In the 1820s the two-party system gained acceptance in American politics. In two-party system, two rival parties present themselves to the electorate, the winning party control the government. The two-party system’s reemergence in 1825-1840 was brought about by major political personalities during that time, the States’ rights and the economic issues plaguing the country.

In the United States, a number of Utopian communities sprung up particularly in the period 1840-1850. The issue of paramount importance in these communities was the topic on equality between men and women. Sexuality was not an important subject in American Utopian movements except for the Oneida community. Of all the utopian experiments in the United States, Oneida was considered the most successful and lasting. It was also the most controversial because of its unorthodox sexual practice of complex marriage.

Poor people were integrated back to the society through housing projects. Penitentiaries, work houses, mental hospitals, orphanages, and reformatories were constructed to address the needs of constituents.

Volunteer police manned the streets before 1820’s. With the increase of population, however, they found that volunteer services alone could not cope with crime.

To make the cities safe again, the government focused on establishing institutions that aimed to rehabilitate criminals. The Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents was one of the rehabilitation centers established around this time. These centers were aimed to reform criminals and juvenile delinquents to make them productive members of society again.

America also adopted the penitentiary system of prison discipline around this time. This system sought to help the youth stay away from crime through moral and religious teachings. Youthful criminals were separated from adult criminals to prevent the latter from influencing the former.

Criminals were taught how to work, read religious books and received guidance. For insane people, asylums were constructed. The asylums help insane people recover from their illness. Poor people were given the chance to work through the establishment of work houses. In these institutions, poor people were not allowed to drink, gamble or be lazy.


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