Politic of USA
A great many changes took place in the Americas from 1800 to 1870. The
United States more than doubled in size, and its government was set on a
firm base. This allowed the country to become strong. Latin America, or
Central and South America, won independence from European rule. But
traditions established under colonial rule remained strong. So despite
strong efforts, democracy did not develop. In all, the 70-year period
was a time of both great promise and great hardship.
A strong spirit of reform swept through the United States during the
late 1800's and early 1900's. Many Americans called for changes in the
country's economic, political, and social systems. They wanted to reduce
poverty, improve the living conditions of the poor, and regulate big
business. They worked to end corruption in goverment, make government
more responsive to the people, and accomplish other goals.
During the 1870's and 1880's, the reformers made relatively little
progress. But after 1890, they gained much public support and influence
in government. By 1917, the reformers had brought about many changes.
Some reformers called themselves progressives. As a result, the period
of American history from about 1890 to about 1917 is often called the
During the Expansion Era, many Americans came to believe that social
reforms were needed to improve their society. Churches and social groups
set up charities the poor and teach them how to help themselves
Reformers worked to reduce the working day of laborers from the usual 12
or 14 hours to 10 hours.
Prohibitionists — convinced that drunkenness was the chief cause of
poverty and other problems — persuaded 13 states to outlaw the sale of
alcohol between 1846 and 1855. Dorothea Dix and others worked to improve
the dismal conditions in the nation's prisons and insane asylums. Other
important targets of reformers were women's rights, improvements in
education, and the abolition of slavery.
The drive for women's rights. Early American women had few rights. There
were almost no colleges for women, and most professional careers were
closed to them. A married woman could not own property. Instead, any
property she had legally belonged to her husband. In addition, American
women were barred from voting in almost all elections.
A women's rights movement developed after 1820, and brought about some
changes. In 1833, the Oberlin Collegiate Institute (now Oberlin College)
opened as the first coeducational college in the United States. Some
men's colleges soon began admitting women, and new colleges for women
were built. In 1848, New York passed a law allowing women to keep
control of their own real estate and personal property after marriage.
That same year, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stan-ton organized a
Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. The convention issued
the first formal appeal for woman suffrage (the right to vote). But
nationwide suffrage did not come about until 1920.
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