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Lecture 14

HIST 2110Y Lecture Notes - Lecture 14: Headon, Lucretia Mott, Peculiar Institution

Course Code
HIST 2110Y
Jeremy Milloy

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HIST-2110Y January 15, 2014
To Redeem America: Evangelism and Activism in the Early 1800s
"As long as the enslavement of a single human being is sanctioned in the land, the curse
of God will rest upon it.” – William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist
"In striving to strike the slave's irons off, we found most surely that we are manacled
ourselves" – Abby Kelley, abolitionist and women's rights advocate
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over
ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or
over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at
my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head
me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I
could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen
children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's
grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?” – Sojourner Truth, former slave,
abolitionist, and women’s rights advocate
The early 1800s is a period of rapid growth and expansion in America (growing in
size and diversity)
This rapid change prompted many Americans to reflect on the state of the nation
(created some excitement from the change)
Many Americans found the country to be inhumane, corrupted, and in need of
reform and change
Some expressed their criticisms and dreams in art and literature
Some placed their hopes in a religious revival
Others attempted to create new societies free of the mistakes of the past
The early 1800s was also the greatest period of activism and social reform
America had ever known
Many of these reform movements overlapped, and challenged and strengthened
each other, especially the movements for women’s rights and the abolition of
This activism created change, and conflict in America, as Americans of all walks
of life battled for the future of their country
Antebellum – period in between the American Revolution and the Civil War
Major Topics
Utopias: Communes and Experimental Societies (exploded in this era)
Religious Revivals and Temperance
Education and Rehabilitation: Other Social Movements
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HIST-2110Y January 15, 2014
The 1800s would see an explosion of a distinctively American arts and culture,
reflecting American concerns
Authors like James Fenimore Cooper (considered the first greatest novelist), Walt
Whitman (one of America’s most important writers, liberated poetry), and
Herman Melville (darker and more pessimistic view of the era, wrote Moby Dick)
expressed some of the dreams, yearnings, and doubts of the era
Where the late 1700s had been an era of scientific rationalism, artists in this era
embraced “ROMANTICISM”
Romanticism was concerned with humans’ emotional life, sentiments, and the
mysterious and mystical aspects of existence
The leader of the Romantics were Ralph Waldo Emerson, who believed
individuals should explore their spirit through developing a connection with the
natural world (self-fulfillment)
Another famous romantic was Henry David Thoreau (built his own cabin in Mass.
woods, did not want a life of quiet desperation, believed people should work for
the freedom of all)
He attempted to live his ideals by living apart from society in a small cabin,
escaping conventionality and materialism
Thoreau would later go to jail rather than pay taxes to support a nation that
permitted slavery (recommended people disobey unjust laws, civil disobedience)
American Utopias: Communes and Experimental Societies
The beliefs of Emerson, Thoreau, and others inspired many Americans to
experiment with new forms of life
The era featured the establishment of many different communes, where people
held land and productive property in common, and worked together to sustain the
society, not competitively
Many communes sought equality between men and women, all the way up to
regulating sexual interactions, childbirth, and childrearing
Most communes failed, but their attempts to reimagine political, economic, and
social life, remained interesting and influential to many
From these experiments we got the words communism and socialism
Another social experiment that had a major impact was the creation of the new
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), founded by Joseph Smith
in this period
The Mormons secrecy and polygamy (men having several wives) led to intense
persecution by other Americans
The Mormons moved many times (for 20 years) before founding a permanent
settlement in Utah, where they remain dominant today
Smith was arrested and committed for treason, an angry mob broke him out of jail
and killed him
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