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The Temperance movement was initiated by ministers and doctors claiming alcohol consumption would decrease physical and psychological health. In response, those that associated and approved of the Temperance movement tried to ban the making of whiskey. Critics of the Temperance movement during the time period, as well as modern researchers, viewed Temperance as a form of social control and as a political symbol. The Temperance movement was one of the most popular pre-Civil War social reform tactics, and made individuals question the political right to influence social change. The Temperance movement set a precedence in American society as "the moral people, in this case the abstainers, [attempt] to correct the behavior of the immoral people, in this case the drinkers" (Gusfield 2). Social movements and social reform are still critical in the present time, involving a claimed "moral" side vs. An "immoral" side. The Temperance movement changed American society as it became an example of one social group trying to dictate the rights of another social group, which is still an attempted process in the modern world.
Another movement that made its attempt on social change during 1800-1840 in American society was the status of women and value of women's rights. In this time, gradual shifts occurred in American society which changed the view of the accepted role for women. Prior to the 19th century, it was expected that women contribute to the economy in some fashion, whether they were single or widowed. The fewer female to male ratio in society made women more valuable and in this time period, women were needed to help sustain the local economy. Young girls were expected to apprentice beside young boys, and learn skills to help their towns and families (Lerner 8).
Before the 19th century the women's role had value, but by 1840 all of American society had changed. The Industrial Revolution, resulting urbanization and industrialization, had created new wealth for many. Women who were wives to the wealthy were able to benefit, however during the industrial and urban shift also created their loss of economic influence and any political power (Lerner 11). Women who were professionals as doctors, midwives, and other professions were faded out of their practices. As the Industrial Revolution created wealth for some men, it simultaneously created a need for a workforce which was eventually filled by women and children. During this time some women were finding work in the factories, while other women were married into wealth. This caused a shift in economic class between women. A change in American society followed, widening the gap between economic classes while creating two identities for the roles of women (Lerner 12). By the 1830s, a few women's rights advocates had emerged, leading to the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 which was the first women's rights convention. This societal change continued over the coming decades and spans into present day as women still compete for equal treatment and rights.
Although American history is short in comparison to other countries and civilizations, it is still rich with change. The 1800-1840 time period signified many changes in American society. Three of the major changes included the Industrial Revolution, the Temperance movement, and the status of women. The Industrial Revolution altered the American foundation during the shift from agriculture to industry, and resulted in urbanization and changed the standard of living. Industrialization changed almost every aspect of daily living and is now the foundation of the modern world. The Temperance movement was a failed attempt to end the consumption of alcohol, however it is significant to American society as it set an example of one social group trying to change the habits of another social group. This strategy is also evident in present day. The third major change in American society was the status of women. The Industrial Revolution allowed some women to revert back to traditional roles while others found factory work, contributing to the separation of class and values. The separation allowed for women's advocates to emerge and begin the journey for women's rights. Each of these instances had their influence on American society, and their implications are still relevant today.
Gusfield, J. Symbolic crusade: status politics and the American Temperance Movement. 2nd ed.
United States: Illini Books, 1986.
Hackett, L. "Industrialization: The First Phase." Industrial Revolution, History World
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