American Reformers, 1815-1860, Revised Edition

Ronald G. Walters

Hill and Wang



Trade Paperback

272 Pages



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For this new edition of American Reformers 1815-1860, Ronald G. Walters has amplified and updated his exploration of the fervent and diverse outburst of reform energy that shaped American history in the early years of the Republic. Capturing in style and substance the vigorous and often flamboyant men and women who crusaded for such causes as abolition, temperance, women's suffrage, and improved health care, Walters presents a brilliant analysis of how the reformers' radical belief that individuals could fix what ailed America both reflected major transformations in antebellum society and significantly affected American culture as a whole.


Praise for American Reformers, 1815-1860, Revised Edition

"A most impressive work. Walters has clearly succeeded better than anyone else in explaining the complex subject of pre-Civil War reform movements."—James B. Stewart, Macalester College

"The most impressive feature of this fine book is the author's ability to synthesize a large, rich, and diverse literature about antebellum reform movements and to present a clear, readable, and persuasive account of their important impact on American society."—James M. McPherson, Princeton University

"Although lucid and witty, the author does not oversimplify the tangled history of reforms . . . Walters has met the task brilliantly, without a wasted word."—Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Case Western Reserve University

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American Reformers 1815-1860
ONEThe Missionary ImpulseThe report on a Kentucky girl in 1801 was dire: "She was struck down fell stiff her hand and arm also became as cold as Death heer fingers cramp'd recov'd heer speech in 2 hours and was haled home on a sled continues in a state of despare which has lasted 3 weekes." The girl was not ill. She had a religious experience. Hers was more extreme than most, although not unusual for Kentucky in 1801.Between the late 1790s and the Civil War, countless Americans like the Kentucky girl were caught up in outbursts of intense religious excitement. Few
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  • Ronald G. Walters

  • Ronald G. Walters is Professor of History at The John Hopkins University. He is the author of The Antislavery Appeal: American Abolitionism after 1830 and editor of Primers for Prudery: Sexual Advice to Victorian America and A Black Woman's Odyssey: The Narrative of Nancy Prince.