"Why Lizzie, three will make us ridiculous!" This Quaker had exclaimed when Elizabeth Cady Stanton proposed the voting rights measure. The newspaper is reporting on the convention thought the demand for the vote was ridiculously unfeminine. But the group that assembled in Seneca Falls was undeterred. Buoyed by the success of this first women's rights convention, they probably planned another one three weeks later in New York's largest upstate city, Rochester, to reach new supporters and to develop strategies to implement their resolutions. The idea for the women's rights convention emerge during a meeting in early July, 1848, between her, a Philadelphia Quaker and the nations best-known woman reformer, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton the Seneca Falls. Reflecting her many concerns, she had just finished a tour of the new penitentiary at Auburn and a nearby Indian reservation and was visiting her sister in Waterloo. Stanton called for teetering knew her acquaintance with this woman, and it was in this context of friendship and showed concern for reform but the two begin planning the convention that was held two weeks later. As Stanton and this woman spoke of the changes that would be necessary to allow women to care for their families but have energy left over to reform "the wrongs and society," the idea of a women's rights convention was born. The size, diversity, and changing working conditions in American cities bred a new urban popular culture with New York, the largest city, leading the way. The passion for reform that had become such an important part of the new middle-class thinking was focused on the problems of the nation's cities. Middle-class people tried to deal with social changes in their communities by joining organizations devoted to reforms such as temperance, education, prisons and asylums, women's rights, abolitionism, and the spread of evangelical religion. Evangelical religion was fundamental to social reform. A second characteristic of the reform movement was a belief in the basic goodness of human nature. A third characteristic of the reform movement was their moral dogmatism. Some aspects of the social reform movements were harmful. Regional and national reform organizations quickly grew from local projects to deal with social problems such as drinking, prostitution,mental illness, and crime. Women became deeply involved in reform movements through their churches. Reformers believed not only that children could be modeled but that adults could change. Other reformers were active in related causes such as these and the establishment of orphanages, homes of refuge, and hospitals. Model penitentiaries were built in Auburn and Ossining (known as "Sing Sing"), New York, and in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Characterized by strict order and discipline, These were supposed to reform rather than simply incarcerate there inmates, but there regimen use of silence and isolation cause despair more often then rehabilitation. All reformers believed that the condition of the unfortunate - the poor, the insane, the criminal -- would improve in a wholesome environment. That's insane asylum's were built in rural areas, away from the noise and stress of the cities, and orphanages had strict rules that were meant to encourage discipline and self reliance. Prison reform carried to send it to the extreme. On the theory that bad social influences were largely responsible for crime, some "Model" prisons completely isolated prisoners from one another making them eat, sleep, work, and do required Bible reading in their own cells.
Failure of these prisons to achieve dramatic changes for the better in their inmates (a number of isolated prisoners went mad, and some committed suicide) or to reduce crime was one of the first indications that reform was not a simple task.
Targeted immigrants for their free drinking habits. The largest reform organization of the period, the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance, founded in 1826, boasted more than 200,000 members by the mid-1830s. Dominated by evangelicals, local chapters used revival methods to encourage young men to stand up, confess their bad habits, and "take the pledge" to not drink. Excessive drinking was a national problem, and it appears to have been mostly a masculine one, for respectable women did not drink in public. Traditionally, drinking had been a basic part of men's working lives. There were many reasons to support temperance: heavy-drinking men hurt their families economically by spending their wages on drink, women had no recourse; Excessive drinking also led to violence and crime, both within the family and in the larger society. The new middle-class, preoccupied with respectability and morality, found the old easygoing drinking ways unacceptable. As work patterns changed, employers banned alcohol at work and increasingly considered drinking men not only unreliable but immoral. It became a social and political issue
Whigs favored it and the Democrats opposed it
German and Irish immigrants were hostile towards to temperance reform. The Panic of 1837 affected the temperance movement. Workers formed associations known as Washington Temperance Societies and spread the word that temperance was the workingman's best chance to survive economically and to maintain his independence. The wives, gathered together in Martha Washington Societies, were frequently even more committed to temperance than their husbands
Women became deeply involved in reform movements through their churches. It was they who did most of the fundraising for the whole missionary societies that we are beginning to send the Evangelical message worldwide -- at first by ministers alone, later bye married couples. Nearly every church had a maternal association, where mothers gather to discuss ways to raise their children as true Christians. These associations reflected a new and more positive definition of childhood. The Puritans had believed that children are born sinful and that their wills had to be broken before they could become godly. Early schools reflected these beliefs: teaching was by rote, and punishment was harsh and physical. Educational reformers, however, tended to believe that children are born in the sun and needed gentle nurturing and encouragement if they were to flourish. At home, mothers weekend plays a central role in child rearing. Outside the home women help spread the new public education paint pioneered by Horace Mann, secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education. Horace Mann insisted that to learn well, children needed schools with the pleasant and friendly atmosphere. One important way to achieve that atmosphere, Mann recommended, was to group children by ages rather than combining everyone in the traditional ungraded classroom and to pay special attention to the needs of the youngest people's. The spread of public education created the first real career opportunity for women.
The great champion of teacher training for women was Catharine Beecher, daughter of Lyman, who clearly saw her efforts as part of the larger work of establishing "the moral government of God." Arguing that women's moral and nurturing nature ideally suited them to be teachers, beat your campaign tirelessly on their behalf.
The first attempt to "solve" the problem of slavery was the plan for gradual emancipation of slaves (with compensation to their owners) and they resettlement in Africa. This plan was the work of this group which was formed in 1817 by Northern religious reformers (Quakers prominent among them) and a number of southern slave owners, most from the upper south and the border states (Kentuckian Henry Clay was a supporter). Northerners were especially eager to send the Norths 250,000 free black people back to Africa, describing them, in the words of the societies 1829 report, as "notoriously ignorant, degraded and miserable, mentally diseased, [and] broken-spirited," the characterization that completely ignore the legal and social discrimination they faced. Some northern members of the society also supported laws disenfranchising and restricting the rights of free African-Americans. This group was your markedly ineffective; by 1830, it had managed to send only 1400 black people to a colony in Liberia, West Africa. Critics pointed out that more slaves were born in a week in the society sent back to Africa in a year. Angelina and Sarah. Northerners eagerly read slave narratives and books such as Theodore weld 1839 American Slavery As It Is (based in part on the recollections of Angela Grimké, whom Weld had married) that provided graphic details of abuse.
Harriet Beecher Stowe drew on the Grimké-Weld book for her immensely popular anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1852. They were members of a prominent South Carolina slaveholding family, rejecting slavery out of religious conviction and moved north to join a Quaker community near Philadelphia. In the 1830s, they found themselves John into the growing anti-slavery agitation in the North. Because they knew about slavery firsthand, and they were in great demand as speakers. At first they spoke to "parlor meetings" of women only, as was considered proper. But interested in men kept sneaking into the talks and soon the sisters found them so speaking to makes gatherings. The meetings got larger and larger, and soon the sisters realize that they become the first female public speakers in America. In 1837 Angelina became the first woman to address a meeting of the Massachusetts state legislature (Sarah Bagley, the Lowell worker, was the second). The sisters challenged social norms to grounds. The anti-slavery movement was widely disapproved, and many famous male orators were criticized by the press and mopped at meetings. They were criticized for speaking because they were women.
A letter from a group of ministers cited the Bible and reprimanding the sisters for stepping out of "women's proper sphere a quote of silence and subordination.
Sarah answered the ministers in her 1838 Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women, being that "men and women were CREATED EQUAL.... Ever is right for a man to do, is right for woman." She followed with this ring in assertion: "I seek no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to be quality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks and permit us to stand up right on that ground which God designed us to occupy."