Identify reasons why Americans in the 1830s turned to elements of social reform.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is difficult to pinpoint one specific reason for the Age of Reform that took place in the America of the 1830s.  One particular reason was driven out of a response of the intense industrialization that gripped the nation.  Industrialization had taken a hold of the nation at the outset of the 19th Century.  Its effects was to create a commercial emphasis in all levels of society.  The drive for industrial wealth and material success helped to construct a response that embraced social change.  Social change became an effective response to the growing materialism that began to emerge in the 19th Century.  The Transcendentalist thinkers were one such example.  The call for social change was rooted in the basic idea of personal and social reform.  This was seen in broad desire to embrace transformation on many levels.

Another reason for the emphasis on social reform could be seen in the raging discourse of the time period.  The discussion of abolition of slavery was one such intense issue that fostered a call in the realm of social reform.  The empowerment of women on social and political levels in terms of their rights was another such issue that was part of the social discourse.  Horace Mann's calls to transform education, as well as Dorothea Dix's demand to reform the conditions in which the mentally ill lived were other examples of how intense the social discourse was.  The fact that social discourse reflected such provocative and potent issues helped to spur on social reform of the time period.