There were a number of things that were common to movements such as the abolition movement, the women's rights movement, and the temperance movement. Let us look two of the most important commonalities.
- Motivation. Many of the antebellum reform movements were motivated by the feeling that it was possible to perfect American society. This feeling came in part from the religious attitudes of the Second Great Awakening.
- Participants. Many of the movements drew their members from the middle class and, in particular, from middle class women. These were people who were more economically able to participate in unpaid reform activities than they would once have been.