A reform movement is a kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society, rather than rapid or fundamental changes. A reform movement is distinguished from more radical social movements such as revolutionary movements. Reformists’ ideas are often grounded in liberalism, although they may be rooted in socialist or religious concepts. Some rely on personal transformation; others rely on small collectives, such as Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel and the self-sustaining village economy, as a mode of social change.
Reactionary movements, which can arise against any of these, attempt to put things back the way they were before any successes of the new reform movement are enjoyed, or to prevent any such successes. Reform movements in the United States sought to expand democratic ideals especially in the years 1825 to 1850. In the years 1825 to 1850, reform movements in the United States expanded democratic ideals greatly.
In his paper, Alexis de Tocqueville states that “history was moving more and more toward equality and democratic institutions (Document A. ) Of course, at this period of time, that really meant movement towards equality for all white male individuals, not women or African Americans. Alexis de Tocqueville believes France can “profit” from “instruction” from the United States (Document A. ) The abolition movement was another big part of the expansion of democratic ideals.
The addition of Mexico’s former territories in 1848 at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War reopened the possibility of the expansion of race-based chattel slavery. The adaptation of the slave system to industrial-style cotton production resulted in increasing dehumanization of black workers and a backlash against slavery in the northern states. A Slave Auction in Virginia depicts the selling of slaves, something most of the north was “against” (Document E.
) The women’s rights movement, founded by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who organized “the Seneca Falls” convention and manifesto in 1848 and published a Declaration of Sentiments calling for the social and legal equality of women. Carried forward by Lucy Stone who began speaking out for women’s rights in 1847, and organized a series of national conventions. Susan B. Anthony joined the cause in 1851 and worked ceaselessly for women’s suffrage (Document F.
) This movement towards equality for women was new for the United States but was definitely a driving force behind the expansion of democratic ideals. There are also many ways in which movements and reforms in the United States went against the expansion of democracy between the years 1825 to 1850. The prohibition or temperance movement, which was characterized by Frances Willard’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, which stressed education and Carrie Nation’s Anti-Saloon League, which promoted a confrontational approach towards bars and saloons.
In Ten Nights in a Barroom, Arthur states that “no [one] has the right to say what a citizen shall eat or drink” (Document C) The democratic ideals state liberty for all, but the prohibition or temperance movement is a great example of how liberty, and democratic ideals, were misunderstood/not used properly. A big part of the United States expansion of democratic ideals was suffrage. Morse states that the naturalization law made it so foreigners were not permitted to vote, etc. (Document D. ) Foreigners were not treated as equals to Americans as clearly shown by their lack of basic rights in the United States.