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Michael Chiu

AP US History
Period 2

Outline of Chapter 12: Antebellum Culture and Reform

-In the mid-nineteenth century, America had conflicting attitudes, which resulted in the
emergence of different movements – many featured an optimistic faith in human nature –
known as romanticism
-Another idea was the desire for order and control
The Romantic Impulse
-American intellectuals wanted Europeans to hold their artistic lives in higher value
-worked to create an elevation of nation’s culture
Nationalism and Romanticism in American Painting
-American art in the first half of the 19th century focused on portraying the nation’s wildest
and spectacular areas
-First great school of American painters was the Hudson River School in New York
Literature and the Quest for Liberation
-James Fenimore Cooper emerged as the first great American novelist
-His work focused on the American wilderness – most important novels were known as the
“Leatherstocking Tales” – explored frontiersman’s experience with Indians and violence
-Walt Whitman, the self-proclaimed poet of democracy, published Leaves of Grass – his
poems celebrated democracy
-Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick, a story of courage and the strength of individual will –
however, also portrayed that the human spirit was troubled, often self-destructive
Literature in the Antebellum South
-Southern novelists in the 1830s that produced works the romanticized the plantation system
of the upper South and slavery
-However, one group of southern writers focused on ordinary people and poor whites,
portraying them in painfully realistic ways – had new robust and vulgar humor
The Transcendentalists
-Transcendentalists believe that the highest human faculty was their capacity to grasp beauty
and truth through giving full expression to the instincts and emotions
-the leader of the first group of transcendentalists was Ralph Waldo Emerson – the most
important intellectual of his age
-Another important transcendentalist was Henry David Thoreau – believed that individuals
should work for self-realization by resisting pressures to conform to society’s expectations
-helped promote “civil disobedience” by refusing to pay a poll tax and going to jail
The Defense of Nature
-The transcendentalists defended nature - believed it was a source of deep, personal human
Visions of Utopia
-Brook farm was established in Massachusetts by transcendentalist George Ripley
-All residents shared equally in the labor of the community and share leisure – however,
there was tension between the ideal of individual freedom and the demands of a community
-Many residents left and the experiment ended in 1847
-However, this failure did not prevent the formation of other experimental communities
-Some used ideas of French philosopher Charles Fourier, who thought of socialist
communities organized as cooperative “phalanxes”
-Others used the ideas of Robert Owen, who himself founded a community in Indiana called
New Harmony – economic failure, but enchanted Americans
Redefining Gender Roles
-One of the most responsible for bringing up issues of gender was Margaret Fuller – pg 320
-the Oneida Community was one of the most enduring utopian colonies – founded by John
Humphrey Noyes – residents rejected traditional notions of family and marriage
-The Shakers were founded by Ann Lee – had to choose faith voluntarily
-embraced idea of sexual equality
The Mormons
-Also the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – founded by Joseph Smith – published
the Book of Mormon
-Joseph Smith, however, was imprisoned for plotting against the government, trying to get
foreign support for a new Mormon colony in the southwest – was killed by a mob
-His successor Brigham Young traveled across the desert as established a community in Utah
-Mormonism reflected a belief in human perfectibility – God was once a man
Remaking Society
-Many new reform movements emerged such as temperance, education, peace, the care of the
poor, the handicapped, and the mentally ill, and the rights of women
Revivalism, Morality, and Order
-Charles Grandison Finney, an evangelistic Presbyterian minister, became the most
influential revival leader of the 1830s – believed that every person contained the potential to
achieve salvation – revival of faith could be created by individual effort
-Enjoyed particular success in upstate New York, led series of revivals in towns along the
Erie Canal – known as the “burned-over district”- Rochester was the site of his greatest
success – had particular success in mobilizing women
The Temperance Crusade
-Reformers for drunkenness argued that it caused crime, disorder, and poverty
-Reform gained a lot of support from women
-The American Society for ht Promotion of Temperance emerged in 1826 as the coordinating
agency among various groups – movement gained strength from many organizations –
however, also divided in purpose
-Prohibition laws pitted established Protestants against new Catholic immigrants – drinking
was a way of the life for the Catholics
Health Fads and Phrenology
-After the cholera epidemics in the 1830s and 1840s, concern for public health grew –
however, in the nineteenth century, many who contracted the disease died ex. nearly a
quarter of the population of New Orleans died from the 1833 epidemic
-Many places established city health boards, but because of the unawareness of bacteria
infections at the time, these boards didn’t do anything
-Many people turned to nonscientific methods – ex. “water cure”
-One belief was phrenology – shape of person’s skull was indicator of his character – began
in Germany and spread to U.S. through efforts of Orson and Lorenzo Fowler
Medical Science
-the prestige of the medical profession was very low because there were few trained
physicians and those considering the licensing of physicians were beaten back by those who
thought that as undemocratic monopoly
-Biggest problem was no basic knowledge about disease
-In 1843, Oliver Wendell Homes concluded that “puerperal fever” could be spread from one
person to another – met with criticism but later confirmed by Ignaz Semmelweis, a physician
Reforming Education
-The greatest of educational reformers was Horace Mann – first secretary of the
Massachusetts Board of Education – believed education protected democracy
-Mann reorganized Massachusetts school system, lengthened academic year, doubled
teachers’ salaries, and introduced new teaching methods
-Many other states experienced rapid growth of public education
-By the beginning of the Civil War, the U.S. had one of the highest literacy rates in the world
-The Benevolent Empire were new institutions that helped the handicapped
-“Asylums” were created for criminals and the mentally ill
-New forms of prison discipline were designed to get rid of the laxness in criminals
The Indian Reservation
-The idea of the reservation was meant to get the tribes out of the way of white civilization,
but also to protect them from whites and allow them to develop enough to assimilate with
The Rise of Feminism
-Many women wanted to defy restrictions on women
-Sarah and Angelina Grimke, argued for gender equality
-In 1848, after women were denied entrance to a world antislavery convention in London,
they organized a convention at Seneca Falls, New York
-Wrote a “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” – “all men and women are created
equal” – demanded the right to vote
-Many of these women were Quakers
-However, the demands of women were given a secondary position to slavery
The Crusade against Slavery
Early Opposition to Slavery
-In 1817, the American Colonization Society was founded by Virginians – tried to challenge
slavery without challenging property rights
-Proposed gradual emancipation of slaves, then sent out back to Africa
-However, colonization of slaves in Africa failed from lack of funds
Garrison and Abolitionism
-William Lloyd Garrison, born in Massachusetts abhorred slavery – founded the Liberator
-Founded the New England Antislavery Society in 1832 – huge success
Black Abolitionists
-Northern blacks were fiercely proud of their freedom – also aware that as long as slavery
existed, their position in society was temporary
-One of the most militant black abolitionists was David Walker
-The greatest black abolitionist was Frederick Douglass – escaped slave – spent two years
lecturing in England – founded the North Star in New York
-To its critics, the abolitionist movement was dangerous to the existing social system
-Resulted an escalating violence directed against abolitionists
Abolitionism Divided
-The abolitionist movement began to show internal divisions because of the violence of the
anti-abolitionists and also the growing radicalism of William Lloyd Garrison
-Amistad case – since international slave trade had been illegal in the U.S. since 1808,
Africans were declared free and sent back to Africa
-The free-soilers wanted to keep slavery out of new territories
-The most powerful document of abolitionist propaganda was Hearriet Eecher Stowe’s Uncle
Tom’s Cabin – best-seller with anti-slavery message
-Even though abolitionism was divided, it remained a powerful influence on the nation