"This is a soul-stirring era," remarked the Reverend William Mitchell in 1835, "and will be so recorded in the annals of time." Countless antebellum reformers agreed. The United States was awash in efforts to change itself, a 'sisterhood of reforms' emerging to characterise the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Americans. In all of this, women played an important role. This book offers a view of women and antebellum reform through two lenses: one focused on the ideas about women, religion, class, and race that shaped reform movements; and another that observes actual women as they participate in the work of social change.
Foreword v Preface ix Chapter One. The Roots of Reform 1 A Changing Society 3 A Woman?s Sphere 8 Chapter Two. Charity and the Relations of Class 15 The Worthy Poor 16 Female Benevolence 18 Organizing the Work 22 Helping One?s Own 29 Chapter Three. Drink, Sex, Crime, and Insanity 33 Temperance 33 Moral Reform 39 Prison Reform 44 The Care of the Insane 48 Buildings and Ballots 51 Chapter Four. Antislavery 57 The Origins of Antislavery 60 The Moral Problem of Slavery 64 Antislavery Efforts 70 Response from the Opposition 74 Life as an Abolitionist 81 Chapter Five. Woman?s Rights 90 Roads Not Taken 91 Reformers and the Woman Question 97 The Declaration of Sentiments 105 The Birth of the Woman?s Rights Movement 110 Conclusion 118 Bibliographical Essay 122 Index 137 Illustrations and Photographs follow page 80