How did mid-nineteenth century reformers attempt to expand "equality, justice, and opportunity"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The middle of the nineteenth century witnessed the process of American Reconstruction following the Civil War, which ended in 1865. This enfranchised many Americans to vote and become citizens for the first time. The Thirteenth Amendment (which was ratified in the same year that the war ended) abolished slavery, though Lincoln never saw it pass, as he was assassinated in April and the amendment passed in December. The Fourteenth Amendment (passed in 1868) gave slaves citizenship, and the Fifteenth Amendment (passed in 1870) gave African-American men the right to vote. These were passed at the hands of Radical Republicans, who not only wanted to make former slaves full citizens with voting power but also wanted to punish the former Confederate states. These activities presaged the Civil Rights Act (which would not be passed until 1964—a century after the end of the Civil War), banning segregation and discrimination against African Americans.

Apart from Reconstruction amendments, Dorothea Dix was an active reformer at this time championing the causes of the mentally ill. She travelled widely, documenting the conditions of mental institutions and advocating for legislative reform.

Next, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton launched the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, championing the rights of women to vote, something that was not nationally achieved until 1920. Despite the delay, these women were successful in rallying appreciable support for their nascent cause.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial