Expanding Democracy Through Reform Movements .
After the era of the Revolutionary War, reform movements and campaigns of all types flourished in the years 1825-1850. Americans wanted to improve the character of ordinary citizens and make them more upright, god-fearing, and literate. As the young Republic grew, increasing numbers of Americans poured their energies into religious revivals and reform movements. Some Americans were disappointed by the realities of democratic politics. Reformers promoted better public schools and rights for women. Societies were formed against slavery and alcohol. Religion became more liberal, as religious reforms transformed the place of religion in American life and sent believers out to perfect the world. The Second Great Awakening sparked innovative reform movements that expanded democratic ideals socially and politically.
The Second Great Awakening was one of the most momentous episodes in history of American reform. It encouraged a lively evangelism that affected the American way of life. This spiritual fervor left countless converted souls, many reorganized churches, and numerous new sects. A reaction against the growing liberalism of religion soon took effect across the country. Religious revivals against open-mindedness spread from the South to the North. It was spread to the masses by camp meetings. Spiritually starved souls were "fed religion" at these gatherings. Revivals boosted a variety of humanitarian reforms. Revivalism sparked reform such as free agency and free will. The Methodists and Baptists sects gathered the most abundant harvest of souls. Both sects stressed personal conversion, a somewhat democratic control of church affairs, and inspiring emotionalism. Charles Grandison Finney was the greatest of the revival preachers. He led massive revivals and preached the importance of repenting after one had sinned. He denounced both slavery and alcohol.