American Antebellum Reform Movements

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New York State Social Studies Framework: 

Grade 7

Standard 12: Unequal and oppressive social structures sparked resistance efforts by slaves and reform movements to address social, political, and economic inequalities in the United States.  

  • 7.12.a: Early reform movements applied religious ideals and transcendentalist philosophy to respond to social problems.
  • 7.12.b: Enslaved African Americans found a variety of ways to resist the institution of slavery.
  • 7.12.c: Abolitionists' actions increased the awareness of slavery and motivated enslaved African Americans to take greater risks to achieve freedom in the United States.
  • 7.12.d: Women joined the movements for abolition and temperance, and organized to advocate for women’s property rights, fair wages, education, and political equality.   
  • 7.12.e Immigrant workers, low‐wage earners, and women organized unions and political institutions to fight for safe and fair working conditions in industrialized areas.
  • 7.12.f: Immigrant and Native American groups struggled to acquire basic rights.  
  • 7.12.g: Social reformers also illuminated the need for improvements in education and mental health care

Grade 11

Standard 3:  EXPANSION, NATIONALISM, AND SECTIONALISM (1800 – 1865): As the nation expanded, growing sectional tensions, especially over slavery, resulted in political and constitutional crises that culminated in the Civil War.

  • 11.3b: Students will investigate the development of the abolitionist movement, focusing on Nat Turner’s Rebellion, Sojourner Truth, William Lloyd Garrison (The Liberator), Frederick Douglass (The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass and The North Star), and Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin).
  • 11.3b: Students will examine the emergence of the women’s rights movement out of the abolitionist movement, including the role of the Grimké sisters, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and evaluate the demands made at the Seneca Falls Convention (1848).
  • 11.3b: Students will examine the issues surrounding the expansion of slavery into new territories, by exploring the Missouri Compromise, Manifest Destiny, Texas and the Mexican-American war, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott decision, and John Brown’s raid.


The image on the Tasks page of this webquest was taken from Syracuse University and their collection of primary sources on the Antebellum era and can be accessed at the following link: https://library.syr.edu/digital/images/o/OneidaCommunityPhotos/010.jpg.

All other images in this Webquest were accessed through the public domain.

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