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QUESTION: Discuss the roots of the reform era in antebellum America, the types of reform pursued, and the motivations of reformers.

ANSWER: The US has been in a constant state of reform since the Revolution.  One of the earliest reform movements was for the abolition of slavery.  Slavery was ended in the north during or shortly after the revolution, but groups attempted to end it nationwide as well.  The movement started with many Quaker groups.  Eventually the American Anti-Slavery Society became one of the most prominent groups calling for full abolition.  The American Colonization Society was also a more moderate group seeking to end slavery and remove former slaves back to Africa.

Another reform movement included efforts to end property requirements as a condition for voting.  These efforts were successful quite early in the Republic in reaching their goals.

Women's rights was another movement that developed during this era.  There were some initial steps, but much of the movement was put on hold out of a desire to focus on anti-slavery efforts.  As a result, the women's movement did not have its desired impact until after the Civil War.

There were also early labor movements, Indian rights movements, prohibition movements and numerous others. Most of the motivations were a desire to seek justice and force America to live up to its ideals.  Much of the motivation for reforms grew out of religious groups and a desire to see society live up to Christian ideals.  The anti-slavery movement was particularly strong in certain religious groups such as the Quakers.  Prohibition was a particular focus of Baptists.  But most of the reforms reached across one sect to gather more support from many parts of society.

- Mike

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QUESTION: Civil war. Causes, consequences, important persons and events.

There are lengthy books, even series of books that cover this lengthy topic.  I don't think there is any good way for me to summarize in this small space and do the subject justice.  If you would like to read more on causes, consequences, important people and events of the war,  a good place to start is this site:

Of course, if you have any specific questions on the topic, please feel free to post.

- Mike

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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