Reform Movements of the Second Great Awakening

Essay by nickcarr90High School, 10th gradeA+, May 2006

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The Second Great Awakening provided an emotional outlet, a right of passage, and social correspondence for American society. Society was seen as immoral. As a result, Congregationalists and Presbyterians began stressing free will in sinners' conversion to God. The religious revivals created middle-class reform movements which called for self-improvement for the benefit of the nation. Some of the social reform efforts made by the Second Great Awakening included moral reform groups that focused on prohibiting drinking and the rights of women.

The production and consumption of alcohol in the United States rose greatly in the early 1800s. The temperance movement was formed as a result of the growing popularity of drinking. The American Temperance Society pushed for total abstinence from alcohol. Many saw drinking as an immoral and irreligious practice that caused poverty or mental instability. Others saw it as a male indulgence that harmed women and children who often suffered domestic abuse at the hands of a drunk.

During the 1830s, workingmen joined the coalition, due to concern over the harmful effects of alcohol on work performance. By 1835, many temperance societies were associated with the American Temperance Society. Because of this association's impact, consumption of liquor began to decrease in the late 1830s and early 1840s, and many states passed bans on alcohol.

American women in the early 1800s were legally and socially inferior to men. Women could not vote and, if married, could not own property or retain their own earnings. The reform movements of the 1830s, especially abolition and temperance, gave women the opporunity to get involved in the public arena. Women soon began to argue for women's rights, in addition to temperance and abolition. Feminists such as Angelina and Sarah Grimké, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott argued that men and women are created equal...