Modern history

Conclusion: From the North to the Nation

Charles Grandison Finney followed these developments from Oberlin College, where he served as president in the 1840s. Resistant to women’s growing demands for rights and skeptical that politics could transform society, he continued to view individual conversions as the wellspring of change. As the nation expanded westward, he trained ministers to travel the frontier converting American Indians to Christianity and reminding Christian pioneers of their religious obligations. After the discovery of gold in California in 1848, religious leaders of every faith feared that the desire for material gain would once again lead Americans to neglect spiritual responsibilities.

Amy Post watched close friends leave for California with husbands struck by gold fever. Other friends and coworkers moved to Ohio, Michigan, and Kansas. Those who remained in Rochester became even more immersed in abolitionist campaigns but continued to clash over the best strategies for achieving their goals. Amy Post, like most Quakers, rejected participation in a government that accepted slavery and fomented war, causing a rift with Frederick Douglass. The disagreement caused her deep personal anguish, but the debates revitalized the movement, creating new opportunities for action.

Finney and Post were among tens of thousands of Northerners inspired by religious and reform movements between 1820 and 1850. Driven by urban and industrial development, immigration, and moral concerns, activists focused on a wide range of causes. But abolitionism carried the most powerful national implications. The addition of vast new territories at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848 ensured that those concerns would become even more pressing in the decade ahead.

Chapter Review


identify and explain the significance of each term below.

separate spheres (p. 278)

Appeal... to the Colored Citizens (p. 290)

deskilling (p. 280)

Liberator (p. 291)

nativists (p. 283)

American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) (p. 291)

Second Great Awakening (p. 283)

temperance (p. 284)

underground railroad (p. 291)

transcendentalism (p. 286)

Declaration of Sentiments (p. 293)

utopian societies (p. 289)

Liberty Party (p. 294)


Answer the focus questions from each section of the chapter.

1. why did American cities become larger and more diverse in the first half of the nineteenth century?

2. what values and beliefs did the emerging American middle class embrace?

3. How and why did American manufacturing change over the course of the first half of the nineteenth century?

4. How did Northerners respond to the hard times that followed the panic of 1837? How did responses to the crisis vary by class, ethnicity, and religion?

5. what impact did the Second Great Awakening have in the North?

6. what new religious organizations and viewpoints emerged in the first half of the nineteenth century, outside of Protestant evangelical denominations?

7. How did the temperance movement reflect the range of tactics and participants involved in reform during the 1830s and 1840s?

8. what connections can you identify between utopian communities and mainstream reform movements in the first half of the nineteenth century?

9. How did the American Anti-Slavery Society differ from earlier abolitionist organizations?

10. How did conflicts over gender and race shape the development of the abolitionist movement in the 1830s and 1840s?



• Size, number, and diversity of northern cities grow; immigration surges


• Textile factory town built in Lowell, Massachusetts


• American Temperance Society founded


• First workingmen's political party founded


• David Walker publishes Appeal... to the Colored Citizens


• Joseph Smith publishes The Book of Mormon

September 1830

• Charles Grandison Finney brings Second Great Awakening to Rochester, New York


• William Lloyd Garrison founds American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS)


• Panic of 1837


• American Anti-Slavery Society splits over the role of women in the society


• Liberty Party formed

• World Anti-Slavery Convention, London


• Amy Post helps found the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society


• William Miller predicts Second Coming of Christ


• Congress funds construction of the first telegraph line

May 1844

• Anti-immigrant violence rocks Philadelphia


• Frederick Douglass publishes Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

• Margaret Fuller publishes Woman in the Nineteenth Century


• Irish potato famine


• Henry David Thoreau publishes Civil Disobedience


• Free-Soil Party formed

• Frederick Douglass publishes the North Star

July 1848

• Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention


• Maine prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages

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