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Women in Antebellum Reform

Women in Antebellum Reform

Lori D. Ginzberg

ISBN: 978-0-882-95951-1

Jan 2000

143 pages

Select type: Paperback

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This is a soul-stirring era," remarked the Reverend William Mitchell in 1835, "and will be so recorded in the annals of time." Countless antebellum reformers agreed. The United States was awash in efforts to change itself, a "sisterhood of reforms" emerging to characterize the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Americans. In all of this, women played an important role.

In her latest publication, Professor Ginzberg offers a view of women and antebellum reform through two lenses: one focused on the ideas about women, religion, class, and race that shaped reform movements; and another that observes actual women as they participated in the work of social change. For women, a commitment to reform offered a broader sense of their place in the world-and of their responsibility to set it aright. By considering the efforts of these women-distributing bibles, tracts, and charity, fighting intemperance, opposing slavery, or demanding their rights as women-the reader gains a richer understanding of the antebellum era itself.

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Foreword v

Preface ix

Chapter One. The Roots of Reform 1

A Changing Society 3

A Woman’s Sphere 8

Chapter Two. Charity and the Relations of Class 15

The Worthy Poor 16

Female Benevolence 18

Organizing the Work 22

Helping One’s Own 29

Chapter Three. Drink, Sex, Crime, and Insanity 33

Temperance 33

Moral Reform 39

Prison Reform 44

The Care of the Insane 48

Buildings and Ballots 51

Chapter Four. Antislavery 57

The Origins of Antislavery 60

The Moral Problem of Slavery 64

Antislavery Efforts 70

Response from the Opposition 74

Life as an Abolitionist 81

Chapter Five. Woman’s Rights 90

Roads Not Taken 91

Reformers and the Woman Question 97

The Declaration of Sentiments 105

The Birth of the Woman’s Rights Movement 110

Conclusion 118

Bibliographical Essay 122

Index 137

Illustrations and Photographs follow page 80