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Jacksonian Democracy, Social Reforms

social movements, disorder, Bible, Sin, reforms

In the second quarter of the 19th century Americans built a number of institutions and social movements dedicated to improving the morals of individuals and of society in general. The most prominent reformers were Northern, middle–class Whigs who had been influenced by evangelical revivals in the 1820s and 1830s. Those revivals taught an ethic of improvement: Sin and disorder, they said, were not inevitable results of Adam’s fall (as described in the Bible). They were the results of bad choices made by free and morally accountable men and women. Beginning in the 1820s, these middle–class evangelicals proposed reforms that would teach Americans to make good moral choices and thus, one individual at a time, improve society and perhaps make it perfect.

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social movements, disorder, Bible, Sin, reforms, quarter, society, women, time


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