In Quest of Freedom: American Political Thought and Practice

By Alpheus Thomas Mason McCormick; Richard H. Leach | Go to book overview
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12
SLAVERY AND THE NATURE OF THE UNION

THE MOVEMENT OF MID- NINETEENTH CENTURYAMERica in the direction of reform is sometimes credited to transcendental influence. It is more probable, however, that it only furthered a trend. Americans had long been schooled in the Jeffersonian belief in the perfectibility of man, and material advances during the first decades of the nineteenth century had reinforced that belief. In the 1930's and 40's reform movements swept Europe and spread quickly to this country. By 1850, no matter in what direction one turned, some cause was being pushed, some abuse examined, some new idea advocated. Temperance, land-reform, abolition of child labor, woman's rights, abolition of flogging in the Navy, amelioration of prisons and insane asylums, abolition of pauperism, the ten-hour day, better schools, abolition of

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