The Reform Movement of the Mid-19th century

Reformers and Terms

In the mid 1800's people were looking to reform and change themselves and the world around them for the better. This was caused by the second Great Awakening, where God was the highest of priorities, and caused people to want to start spreading the ideas of liberty and equality across America, eventually giving women rights and suffrage, fair treatment to the mentally ill, and racial equality. During this time there were many famous reformers such as Dorothea Dix, who kept the mentally ill from being thrown in prison, but instead made the hospitals give them treatment. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a reformer for women's rights who was one of the people that held the famous Seneca Falls Convention in July 1848. At this convention which contained around 300 men and women the Declaration of Sentiments was written, which was one of the roots for the eventual passing of rights to women's suffrage. William Lloyd Garrison was an abolitionist who started a newspaper called "The Liberator" which stated many controversial statements about slavery and caused a lot of people to rethink slavery. Fredrick Douglas was a VERY important abolitionist and escaped slave who gave many speeches and wrote many articles against slavery, such as his famous book "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave." He was living proof that proved the previously universal idea that slaves were not intelligent was wrong. He started a newspaper called "The North Star", referring to the star the slaves followed to freedom using the underground railroad, of which he was a conductor, or leader. The abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" which depicted the life of an African American slave and caused abolitionists' urge to fight back to bolster. Sojouner Truth was an escaped slave who fled slavery and once free, fought a court case against a man to get her son back, and became the first black woman to win such a case. She was also a very prominent women's right fighter and gave speeches for gender and racial equality. Possibly the most well known escaped slave, Harriet Tubman, was the most famous 'conductor' on the underground railroad- a group of abolitionists who helped slaves escaped- saving hundreds of people and allegedly never losing a single person. She used the North Star to navigate her way to freedom, and then used it to navigate hundreds of slaves to freedom. Horace Mann was not a prominent abolitionist, but rather a man with lots of power who wanted equal education between all types of people. He wanted all people to have at least an elementary school level of education. Lucretia Mott was an abolitionist and women's rights advocate who boycotted using anything obtained through slavery. She gave many speeches against slavery and often sheltered escaped slaves in her home. She was one of the main writers of "The Declaration of Sentiments" and attended the Seneca Falls Convention. Susan B. Anthony was a feminist who played a pivotal role in getting rights for woman by giving nearly 100 speeches every year and helping write "The Revolution" which was a paper that fought for women's rights. She was given a $100 fine for voting but never paid her debt saying that it was unjust. All of these people and events together gave rights to women; and all races equality.


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