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Antebellum Periods and Reforms
The Ante-bellum Period and The Reforms
The overwhelming number of reforms in the ante-bellum period was a result the rapid change that was occurring around the country. These changes were seen in economics, politics and society. Americans reacted in a nationwide panic which created doubts of the goodness of the changes America was going through. The institution and then rise of the market economy and the Second Great Awakening had the greatest effect on America. The effect of these two things brought on many reforms by many different people in various aspects of America.
Market economy had a significant change in all politics, economics, and society. The market economy is "where men and women grew crops and produced goods for sale at home or abroad... The money that individuals received from market transactions.....purchased items from produced by other people."1 This system was a devised so each person following could produce goods for a profit. America's economy was probably the most effected out of the three country functions. Market economy started many improvements in America through industrialization. New interventions in transportation and technology had a major effect on the pace in which America functioned. Transportation flourished with the building of railroads, canals, and a National road. Technology also significantly throve with inventions as the steamboat and the telegraph. There was a definite rise in cities as population rapidly increased. These cities were mostly industrial cities and contained a large immigrant population. Immigrants created a lot of competition in the economic world because as population grew, it became more and more difficult to get a job, and the immigrants were willing to work for low wages unlike many Americans. Market economy encouraged wage labor which was a form of specialization. Many people were incorporated in this system being paid so much for parts. This resulted in factories which brought the individual parts under one roof. One of the last things coming out of all these rapid changes was the constant boom and bust cycles. There were many times that production would exceed the demand and then prices would go decrease going resulting in a depression because of people who relied on these items profits.
Politics and society also got effected by the market economy. In politics, the rise of the market economy was supported by American government. Government encouraged individual enterprises and corporations as well as the new forms of technology and transportation. The government also wants the expansion which comes along with these new transformations. As these changes increased, so did a significant party split. The Nationalist split creating the Democrats and the Whigs. The Democrats represented a wide range of views and looked down upon the Whigs idea of reformation. The Whigs were involved in many kinds of reform, especially in government reform. Society was effected by the market economy as Americans were torn between tradition and the new ideas. The "working for profit" ideology notably brought attention to the diversified country. This recognition of each groups distinctions created tensions among many groups. There was an obvious class gap between the upper class and the lower class. The new changes helped the wealthier get wealthier and increased the class gap. The middle class is growing very rapidly as this distinguished group consisted of the majority of business men. The competition for jobs in the industrialized cities resulted in ethnic tensions because of the hostility towards immigrants who were taking the jobs needed by Americans. As the North became prosperous through industrialization, the South still had the establishment of slavery. Sectionalism grew as people, in addition to others, started to question slavery. This created tension between slaves and whites as well as North and South. Another tension was between women and men. Woman, because of market economy, received new opportunities in the work fields and were receiving much lower waged than men were. Therefore, woman started to see that they were not considered equal.
Besides the market economy, the Second Great Awakening had a great effect on how people viewed America. The Second Great Awakening was an events that concentrated on self-improvement and reformation. Even though this event was mostly religious, it brought man
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