Creating the Culture of Reform in Antebellum America

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University of Georgia Press, 2006 M12 1 - 280 páginas
In this study, T. Gregory Garvey illustrates how activists and reformers claimed the instruments of mass media to create a freestanding culture of reform that enabled voices disfranchised by church or state to speak as equals in public debates over the nation’s values. Competition among antebellum reformers in religion, women’s rights, and antislavery institutionalized a structure of ideological debate that continues to define popular reform movements.

The foundations of the culture of reform lie, according to Garvey, in the reconstruction of publicity that coincided with the religious-sectarian struggles of the early nineteenth century. To counter challenges to their authority and to retain church members, both conservative and liberal religious factions developed instruments of reform propaganda (newspapers, conventions, circuit riders, revivals) that were adapted by an emerging class of professional secular reformers in the women’s rights and antislavery movements. Garvey argues that debate among the reformers created a mode of “critical conversation” through which reformers of all ideological persuasions collectively forged new conventions of public discourse as they struggled to shape public opinion.

Focusing on debates between Lyman Beecher and William Ellery Channing over religious doctrine, Angelina Grimke and Catharine Beecher over women’s participation in antislavery, and William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass over the ethics of political participation, Garvey argues that “crucible-like sites of public debate” emerged as the core of the culture of reform. To emphasize the redefinition of publicity provoked by antebellum reform movements, Garvey concludes the book with a chapter that presents Emersonian self-reliance as an effort to transform the partisan nature of reform discourse into a model of sincere public speech that affirms both self and community.

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Contenido

Discursive Democracy and the Culture of Reform
1
Religious Pluralism and the Origins of the Culture of Reform
31
Sincerity and Publicity in the GrimkéBeecher Debate
74
Garrison Douglass and the Problem of Politics
121
Emersons SelfReliance as a Theory of Community
161
Sincerity and Pluralism in Critical Conversation
199
Notes
203
Bibliography
223
Index
237
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Página 118 - I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation.
Página 82 - Joel ; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh ; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams ; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
Página 118 - I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen, — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse—...
Página 12 - We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds. The study of letters shall be no longer a name for pity, for doubt, and for sensual indulgence. The dread of man and the love of man shall be a wall of defence and a wreath of joy around all.
Página 16 - Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes.
Página 165 - Life only avails, not the having lived. Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim.
Página 76 - Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether boldest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this...
Página 82 - But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh...
Página 178 - I put it to all the sober and sound minds at the North as a question of morals and a question of conscience.

Acerca del autor (2006)

T. Gregory Garvey is a professor of English at the State University of New York at Brockport. He is editor of The Emerson Dilemma and author of Creating the Culture of Reform in Antebellum America (both Georgia).

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