Reform in the Age of jackson



“From about 1825 until the outbreak of the civil war in 1861, the atmosphere in the nation was one of reform” (Boardman, 122). There were five major reform movements present in 19th century America. There was the Utopianism/Communitarian Movement, which established an ideal society away from present politics. Educational reforms were important in the fact of creating taxes to support the public school system, higher education for adults, and mandatory education and attendance. The Temperance Movement preached of abstinence from alcohol and the Woman’s Rights Movement was to improve the life of women politically, socially, and economically. It also included the strive for women’s suffrage rights. Humanitarianism was improving the lives of those less fortunate. This movement also included and was closely related to the Abolition Movement. A great deal of the spirit to reform could be credited to the Enlightenment period of the 18th century, which was still influential in America. More recent though, was the period of Romanticism, which emphasized the goodness of nature and human kind. “To all this was added the democratic spirit of equality and the goal of Utilitarianism: the achievement of the greatest happiness for the greatest number” (Boardman, 123).
Utopianism/Communitarianism
Secular communities arose in the mid 1800’s. The goal of these communities was to establish a new social order in society. They were religious and secular colonies where the entire population of the community shared property and work. They used idealistics as their model rather than radical doctrines.
The Harmony Society was originally established in 1805 in the county Butler, Pennsylvania. Later, in 1814, the society moved to Indiana, and then moved again to Economy, Pennsylvania in 1825. Robert Owen founded the Society of New New Harmony, Indiana in 1825. This colony was to be a self-sufficient community, which was to exist without any currency. Other similar non-religious societies were Nashoba, Tennessee (1825) and the Zoar Community, which was founded in 1817 and lasted until 1898.
The majority of these communal societies were religiously affiliated. John Humphrey Noyes founded the Perfectionists in 1839 in Vermont. They later moved to Onieda, New York where they were most prosperous in the business of steel and silverware. The Hopedale Community was founded in Massachusetts in 1842 and lasted until 1932. Bishop Hill Colony in Illinois dates from 1848-1862. The Mormon Community, which was the most successful of the religious communal societies has a long history starting with Joseph Smith and his unearthing of the gold tablets. He used these tablets to write the Book of Mormon in 1827, and later in 1830 he founded a church in Kirtland, Ohio. Shortly after they relocated to Independence, Missouri where they met hostile feelings causing them to move once more to Nauvoo, Illinois. By 1844, Nauvoo was the largest city and most prosperous in Illinois. But feelings of distrust surfaced once again and in June of 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother were arrested after they proclaimed the doctrine of polygamy as part of the Mormon order a year before. A mob broke out and Smith and his brother were lynched. Brigham Young took control of the Mormon society after their deaths and began to move his people to Great Salt Lake, Utah. By the fall of 1847, 1,800 people had arrived in their new location. When Congress created the Utah territory shortly after in 1850, they named Young the presiding governor there.
During the mid- 1800’s the European theorist Charles Fourier was inspiring America. He was a French social philosopher. He believed in organizing people in to economic units called phalanxes with an agricultural basis. Albert Brisbane, who studied under Fourier for some time, founded the community of Red Bank, New Jersey. This was a society where the members chose their salaries according to the “repulsiveness” of the occupation. This meant that a privy cleaner would earn more than a schoolteacher. But the most famous of the Fourieristic Societies was Brook Farm founded by George Ripley, which lasted from 1841-1847 in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Brook Farm was transcendentalist in orientation and it rejected society standards and enlightenment thought. The individual and the mystery of nature were important in the society and it was modeled around the thoughts of famous thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel