Women in Antebellum Reform / Edition 1

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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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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"The writing is clear and lively and the interpretation engaging and sophisticated. Ginzberg brings a wide array of individuals, events, and movements to life and provides particularly insightful discussions of class and racial differences within antebellum society and antebellum reform."
–Nancy A. Hewitt, Rutgers University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780882959511
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: American History Series, #17
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 143
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lori D. Ginzberg is Associate Professor of History and Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-Century United States, which was co-winner of the 1991 National Historical Society’s Book Prize in American History. She has written numerous articles on nineteenth-century women’s political and intellectual history, including “’Pernicious Heresies’: Women’s Political Identities and Sexual Respectability in the Nineteenth Century,”  in Alison Parker and Stephanie Cole, eds., Women and the Unstable State in Nineteenth-Century America, and “’The Hearts of Your Readers will Shudder’: Fanny Wright, Infidelity, and American Freethought,” American Quarterly 46, which won the Constance Rourke prize. In 1995-96 she was a Fulbright senior teaching fellow at the Hebrew university in Jerusalem. Lori Ginzberg lives in Philadelphia.

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Table of Contents

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

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