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Reform Movements in the United States Sought to Expand Democratic Ideals. Assess the Validity of This Statement with Specific Reference to the Years 1825-1850

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Join now to read essay Reform Movements in the United States Sought to Expand Democratic Ideals. Assess the Validity of This Statement with Specific Reference to the Years 1825-1850

�“Reform movements in the United States sought to expand democratic ideals.” Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to the years 1825-1850.’

Reform movements in the United States sought to expand democratic ideals from the quarter century time period of 1825-1850 also known as the Second Great Awakening. These democratic ideals included voting for everyone eighteen and older (with the exception of minors, women, insane, and criminals), freedom of expression, press, speech and religion, election of officials, property rights, free and public education, more than one political party, equal rights, equality before the law entitling a person to due process, separation of church and state, tolerance of diversity, institutional uncertainty, protection of minority rights, and no special privileges. Teaching them the habits of thrift, orderliness, temperance and industry was a way to not only better their lives but a way to instill certain so-called democratic values and advance the perfection of the whole of society.

Many people liked the ideal change from an ancient Romanesque republic to an ancient Greek democracy. After visiting the United States during the early 1830’s, Alexis de Tocqueville put all of his observations into a book entitled Democracy in America. In this significant book, he depicted democracy as “not only deficient in that soundness of judgment which is necessary to select men really deserving of its confidence, but it has neither desire nor the inclination of find them…” (Document 3)

The theology of the Second Great Awakening can be split up into six subdivisions: personal commitment, revivals, conversion of the world, millennialism, perfectionism, and a utopia. Personal commitment consists of free will. They denied imputation of Adam’s guilt to all mankind. Men are not innately disposed towards sin. God gave men the free will to elect their own salvation. There is no sin until it is actually committed. Sin was now considered a voluntary act. It also consists of a change of heart, which revived the concept of limited atonement. Christ did not die for only a select few predestined elect, but for whosoever will accept God’s offer of salvation. Personal commitment also involved an active and useful Christian life in which individual action brings the kingdom closer.

Revivals were made possible by itinerant preachers. One of the most famous itinerant preachers was Charles Grandion Finney. He is the father of Modern revivalism. Born in Oneida, Connecticut in 1792, he had a conversion experience in 1821. In Finney theology, sin was a voluntary act and hence avoidable. “When the churches are…awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow, going through the same stages of conviction, repentance, and reformation. Their hearts will be broken down and changed.” (Document B) his teaching of theology also put emphasis on perfectionism and social activism. Finney later died in 1875. However, his teachings were passed on through all night prayer meetings and anxious seating.

Conversion of the world is exactly what is meant �a conversion of the world’. If human nature is open to total renovation then so is society. As god desires to work with and through human nature to transform the individual, so he works with and through men and their institutions to regenerate the kingdom of his world.

Perfectionalism was what everyone back then wanted to obtain. It is based upon progress: it is universal, inevitable and infinite. “When he sees little boys and girls riding on pretty horses, or in coaches, or walking with ladies and gentlemen, and having on very fine clothes, he does not envy them, nor wish to be like them. He says, �I often have been told, and I have read, that it is God who makes some poor, and others rich; that the rich have many troubles which we know nothing of; and that the poor, if they are but good, may be very happy, indeed, I think that when I am good, nobody can be happier than I am.’” (Document E) This is a great example of perfectionalism because doesn’t feel the need to be like others; he has a self salvation or sense of self.

Utopia is the anxiety over that the future lies at the heart of the movement, new ruling elites, industrialization and urban growth, immigration, social dislocation and attempts to reestablish sense of community. The old elites’ motivation was that of principled disinterest and there was an aristocracy of talent for gentlemen of college education and who were higher in on a social scale. Now that Jefferson and John Adams were out of office, there was a chance to reestablish a sense of community with the new elites’ motivation. People now wanted citizens to have a say in governmental affairs. According to Document 5, “…the

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