Religious reformers believed that they should establish estranged communities that lead to equality, liberty, and prosperity among all. The best examples were the Shakers found by Ann Lee, an English immigrant. The members of the community worked together to own their own property. They focused on sharing labor and not oppressing community rules giving the members a sense of liberty. Document F stresses the importance of this collaboration among the people for the greater good of all. The Shakers let the social outcasts of the cities such as blacks, Indians, and troubled whites join their communities as long as they followed the rules and fulfilled their religious duties. This action coincides with the ideal of Document B that once the churches are reformed the sinners will be reformed, awakened and converted to better members of the society. These people were finally able to have a sense of equality, unlike the urban areas where people shunned them. Everything that the Shakers did had underlying democratic ideals. They were able to establish liberty and equality in their communities, unlike many urban societies.
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Due to the horrible conditions of the urbanized areas, crime prevention became a necessary reform movement. The reformers established institutions such as the prison system so that the criminals could be removed from society and trained so that one day they were productive. Document A reinforces this idea since it states that young criminals must be placed in their own penitentiary system away from elders that could ruin their chance to live properly in society. The reformers wanted the criminals to experience equality eventually instead of leaving them as damaged members of society. But, in seeking this goal, they sacrificed the prisonersâ liberty within the prison to the extent they went insane. Solitary confinement and beatings are two examples of terrible conditions. The search for finding a way to cure deranged men led to unjust treatment against democratic ideals even though the reformers were trying to improve their lives.
Education reformers sought to expand equality by increasing educated people. Not only were poor children able to attend school instead of working in factories, but the deaf, mute, and blind could now be taught. Men such as Thomas Gallaudet and Dr. Howe sought to create new methods for the disabled to read and write. Education for everyone greatly increased the sense of equality among lower-class citizens. Document E gives an example of a little boy who is content with what he has since he works hard and goes to school. He doesnât feel disadvantaged by being poor. Equality improved the morale of many Americans.
The largest reform for equality and liberty was for the abolition of slavery. Slavery reformers answered yes to the picture in Document C of the black girl demanding if sheâs equal to a white woman. Some believed that the slaves should be freed and immediately considered equals such as extremist William Garrison. Even if the reformers were able to free the blacks, entitling them to liberty, it was up to the whites to accept them into society and give them the sense of equality they wanted. The reformers put the slave owners in an awful position since they bought their slaves as property and by setting them free they were losing property and their way of living. Slavery is wrong but the slave owners of the south needed their slaves to live. Also, itâs hard for the slave owners to see the blacks as equal after using them as livestock. With the Compromise of 1850, the slave owners and the reformers had conciliated on the issue of slavery for the time being.
Slaves werenât the only ones demanding their equality. Women also struggled to be considered equal to men. The document gives a glimpse of Elizabeth Stantonâs stance on the injustices of women. Women should be allowed in other spheres of life besides housekeeping and childbearing. Also, women have the responsibility of raising the future men of the world therefore itâs necessary for them to be educated. The diagram in Document H shows the poverty that men leave women and children after drinking their lives away. Women are left unable to support their families. The reformers knew that only with the equality of women, all families didnât need to support men.