The Appeal of Female Moral Reform, Endnotes

What Was the Appeal of Moral Reform to Antebellum Northern Women?

Endnotes

Introduction

1. This project draws on my forthcoming Ph.D. dissertation, "'The First of Causes to Our Sex': Moral Reform in the Antebellum Northeast, 1834-1848," State University of New York at Binghamton. The main secondary sources on female moral reform are listed in the annotated bibliography for this project. Older narratives are Sarah R. I. Bennett, Women's Work Among the Lowly: Memorial Volume of the First Fifty Years of the American Female Guardian Society and Home for the Friendless, Second ed. (New York: AFGS, 1880); in History of Women (microfilm), no.3115.2; [Helen E. Brown,] Our Golden Jubilee: A Retrospect of the American Female Guardian Society and Home for the Friendless From 1834 to 1884 (New York: Angell's Printing Office, 1884); Flora Northrup, The Record of a Century, 1834-1934 (New York: American Female Guardian Society and Home for the Friendless, 1934). For the New England Female Moral Reform Society, see Fourteenth Annual Report of the New England Female Moral Reform Society, for the Year Ending May, 1852 (Boston: Bazin & Chandler, 1852); in History of Women (microfilm), no. 8404.

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2. These figures are derived from the annual reports of the New York and Boston parent societies for 1841: New York claimed 555 auxiliary societies; Boston, 61. New York claimed 45,000 members, which yields an average 81 members per auxiliary. Applying that average to the Boston-related auxiliaries and adding the resulting number to New York's 45,000 yields the total of roughly 50,000.

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3. Anne M. Boylan, "Timid Girls, Venerable Widows and Dignified Matrons: Life Cycle Patterns Among Organized Women in New York and Boston, 1797- 1840," American Quarterly 38 (Winter 1986), 779-97.

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4. For the relationship of the Second Great Awakening and women's activism, see Kathryn Kish Sklar, Catharine Beecher: A Study in Domesticity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973); Mary P. Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); and Nancy A. Hardesty, Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Feminism in the Age of Finney (Brooklyn: Carlson, 1991).

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5. John W. Kuykendall, "Martyr to the Seventh Commandment: John R. McDowall," Journal of Presbyterian History 50 (Winter 1972):288-305. See also First Annual Report of the Female Benevolent Society of the City of New York (New York: West & Trow, 1834); in History of Women (microfilm), no. 8402.

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6. Illuminator, October 21, 1835, 15.

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7. "In assuming the character of a New England society, we hope to secure more extensively the sympathies of and co-operation of our sisters in this section of our country." Friend of Virtue, October 1838, 159. The Advocate responded: "We do not look upon [moral reform] as a New York effort, or a New England effort but as a Christian attempt.... New York, as the London of America, has facilities for exerting a wide-spread influence superior to those of any other city in the Union, and therefore it is important that the headquarters of an American F. M. R. Society should be fixed here." November 15, 1938, 172-73.

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8. See John D. Cush, "Notes on Disestablishment in Massachusetts, 1780-1833," William and Mary Quarterly 26 (1969): 169-90. For the effects of disestablishment see Nathan D. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989); Donald M. Scott, From Office to Profession: The New England Ministry, 1750-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978); and Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Knopf, 1977).

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9. From minutes of the organizational meeting and the concluding NYFMRS circular, respectively, in The Constitution and Circular of the New York Female Moral Reform Society (New York: NYFMRS, 1834), pp. 8, 17; in History of Women (microfilm), no. 9853.

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10. For this relationship between class and gender, see Sklar, Catharine Beecher; Barbara Epstein, The Politics of Domesticity: Women, Evangelism, and Temperance in Nineteenth-Century America (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1981); Lori D. Ginzberg, Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-Century United States (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990).

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11. For women's lack of legal rights, see Norma Basch, In the Eyes of the Law: Women, Marriage, and Property in Nineteenth-Century New York (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982) and Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth: Law and the Family in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985).

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12. Daniel Scott Smith and Michael S. Hindus, "Premarital Pregnancy in America, 1640-1971: An Overview and Interpretation," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 5 (Spring 1975): 561. The declining fertility rate among white women over the same period is an important parallel phenomenon which according to Smith points to deliberate family limitation and a kind of "domestic feminism." Daniel Scott Smith, "Family Limitation, Sexual Control, and Domestic Feminism in Victorian America," Feminist Studies 1 (Winter-Spring 1973): 40-57; the article has also been reprinted in Andrea Tone, ed., Controlling Reproduction: An American History (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1997). Smith's explanation of the "demographic transition" in terms of culture and gender runs counter to various economic interpretations, as for example, in Maris A. Vinovskis, Fertility in Massachusetts from the Revolution to the Civil War (New York: Academic Press, 1981), and Lee Craig, To Sow One Acre More: Childbearing and Farm Productivity in the Antebellum North (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).

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13. Louise A. Tilly, Joan W. Scott, and Miriam Cohen, "Women's Work and European Fertility Patterns," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 6 (Winter 1976): 447-76.

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14. On the emerging imperative of sexual self-control, see Stephen Nissenbaum, Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America: Sylvester Graham and Health Reform (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980), chap. 2, and Jayme A. Sokolow, Eros and Modernization: Sylvester Graham, Health Reform, and the Origins of Victorian Sexuality in America (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1983). Kathryn Kish Sklar highlights the empowering significance of sexual control in "Victorian Women and Domestic Life: Mary Todd Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Beecher Stowe," in Women and Power in American History: A Reader, 1:229-43, Sklar and Dublin, eds. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1991).

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15. Eighth Annual Report of the American Temperance Society; in Permanent Temperance Documents of the American Temperance Society, Vol. I (Boston, 1835; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1972), p. 474; for the AAS figures, see the New York Evangelist, May 12, 1838, p. 72.

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16. New York Evangelist, May 30, 1940, p. 88.

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17. Barbara Meil Hobson, Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition. (New York: Basic Books, 1987; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), pp. 67-69; Marilyn Wood Hill, Their Sisters' Keepers: Prostitution in New York City, 1830-1870 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 140-43.

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18. New York State Legislature, Laws of the State of New York, Passed at the Seventy-First Session of the Legislature, Chaps. 105 and 111 (Albany: Charles Van Benthuysen, 1848), pp. 118, 148.

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19. Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth: Law and the Family in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985), pp. 34-48; Constance Backhouse, Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and Law in Nineteenth-Century Canada (Toronto: Women's Press, 1991), pp. 69-70.

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20. Smith, "Family Limitation, Sexual Control, and Domestic Feminism in Victorian America," table 3.

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21. Smith, "Family Limitation."

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22. Hobson, Uneasy Virtue, pp. 68-69; Hill, Their Sisters' Keepers, pp. 143-44.

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23. David J. Pivar treats moral reform as a precursor of late nineteenth- century purity reform in Purity Crusade, Sexual Morality and Social Control, 1868-1900 (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1973), pp. 25-28. Christine Stansell sees mid-century urban reformers as engaged in an assault on working-class culture, in City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 (New York: Knopf, 1986), chaps. 4 and 10.

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Document 1

24. Marlou Belyea, "The New England Female Moral Reform Society, 1835-1850: 'Put Down the Libertine, Reclaim the Wanderer, Restore the Outcast'" (Typescript, 1976; Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College), pp. 4-5; Friend of Virtue, June 15, 1844, pp. 179-80.

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Document 2

25. Gilbert H. Barnes noted the self-referential character of the various reform movements growing out of Second Great Awakening revivalism in The Antislavery Impulse 1830-1844 (1933; repr. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964), pp. 24-25. On middle class self-definition, see John S. Gilkeson, Jr., Middle Class Providence, 1820-1940 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), chap. 2; Stuart M. Blumin, The Emergence of the Middle Class: Social Experience in the American City, 1760-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), chap. 6; Anne Firor Scott, Natural Allies: Women's Associations in American History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), pp. 4, 82.

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Document 3

26. "Moral Reform Societies," The Literary and Theological Review 3 (December 1836), 617.

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Document 4

27. Gilkeson, Middle Class Providence, p. 53, distinguishes between an emerging producer ideology as against the alleged dissipation of the wealthy.

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Document 5

28. The constitution referred to here is the new version adopted when the New York parent society changed its name to the American Female Moral Reform Society in 1839. Article III of this constitution states in part, "Being fully aware that the profligate of either sex, are equally guilty in the sight of God, both shall be utterly excluded from our society...." Advocate of Moral Reform, June 1, 1839, p. 86.

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29. Keith Thomas, "The Double Standard," Journal of the History of Ideas 20 (1959):195-216; Ursula Vogel, "Whose Property?: The Double Standard of Adultery in Nineteenth-Century Law," in Carol Sweet, ed., Regulating Womanhood: Historical Essays in Marriage, Motherhood and Sexuality (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 147-65.

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Document 6

30. Friend of Virtue, February 1838, pp. 21 and 22.

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Document 7

31. Besides this piece, there was a pair of editorials, "Province of Woman," in the Advocate of Moral Reform, September 15, 1837, p. 325, and October 1, 1837, p. 333, and the Friend of Virtue (March 1838), p. 39, published a favorable review of Grimké's Letters. They were originally serialized in the summer and fall of 1837 in the New England Spectator, then published in book form in early 1838. Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman, Addressed to Mary S, Parker, President of the Boston Female Anti-slavery Society (Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1838; repr. New York: Source Book Press, 1970). Ceplair, includes Letters I-IV and VIII-XV, in The Public Years of Sarah and Angelina Grimké, pp. 204-257, 264-72.

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Document 8

32. Advocate of Moral Reform, January 1, 1838, pp. 3-5, in Ceplair, Public Years, pp. 257-64. The quotations are from pp. 262, 263.

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33. New York Evangelist, March 31, 1838, April 7, 1838, April 14, 1838 and April 28, 1838. The New York Evangelist was a weekly chronicle of revivalism, doctrinal debate, and evangelical reform, and, while Joshua Leavitt was editor, it was sympathetic to female moral reform. When he left the paper in 1837, coverage of the declining male moral reform society replaced that of the NYFMRS, and articles extolling female domesticity and critical of women's rights began to appear. The anti-Grimké "Letters" I-III were republished in the Friend of Virtue, from July 1838 to December 1838.

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34. Ellen Dubois makes this point in "Women's Rights and Abolition: The Nature of the Connection," in Antislavery Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Abolitionists, ed. Lewis Perry and Michael Fellman (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), pp. 246 ff.

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Document 9

35. Among many studies of the connection between Finney's revivals and reform movements, see Charles Hambrick-Stowe, Charles G. Finney and the Spirit of American Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996); James H. Moorhead, "Social Reform and the Divided Conscience of Antebellum Protestantism," Church History 48 (December 1979):416-30. On the relationship of Finney's revivals and women's activism: Nancy A. Hardesty, Your Daughters Shall Prophecy: Feminism in the Age of Finney (Brooklyn: Carlson, 1991).

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36. Richard D. Shiels, "The Feminization of American Congregationalism, 1730-1835," American Quarterly 33 (Spring 1981):46-62. Female church members did not control church finances or the settling of pastors. These matters were in the hands of the (male) pew holders incorporated into the religious "society," which was separate from the church membership. On the gender conflict this situation could create, especially in times of revival, see Curtis D. Johnson, Islands of Holiness: Rural Religion in Upstate New York, 1790-1860 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), chap. 4.

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37. On Garrisonian "come-outerism," see Ronald G. Walters, The Antislavery Appeal: American Abolitionism After 1830 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), pp. 43-50; John R. McKivigan, The War Against Proslavery Religion: Abolitionism and the Northern Churches, 1830-1865 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984); and Ellen Dubois, "Women's Rights and Abolition," pp. 242-44.

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Document 10

38. This reading of postmillenialsim follows James H. Moorhead, "Between Progress and Apocalypse: A Reassessment of Millennialism in American Religious Thought, 1800-1880," Journal of American History 71 (December 1984):524-42.

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Document 11

39. Richard A. Meckel, "Educating a Ministry of Mothers: Evangelical Maternal Associations, 1815-1860," Journal of the Early Republic 2 (Winter 1982): 403-23. On the social location of maternal associations, see Mary P. Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 89-93, 99-103.

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Document 12

40. For a picture of courtship practices in the antebellum period drawn from letters and diaries, see Ellen K. Rothman, "Sex and Self-Control: Middle Class Courtship in America, 1770-1870," Journal of Social History 15 (Spring 1982):409-25, and her book, Hearts and Hands: A History of Courtship in America (New York: Basic Books, 1984), chaps. 3 and 4.

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Document 13

41. Advocate, July 15, 1838, p. 110, and August 1, 1839, p. 119.

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42. Harriet Sedgwick had been earlier honored with a life membership in the NYFMRS. Advocate, May 15, 1838, p. 80. A report from the young ladies' moral reform society presents this episode from their point of view. Advocate, September 15, 1838, p. 143.

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Document 14

43. John Blake, "Mary Gove Nichols, Prophetess of Health," in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106 (June 1962):219-34; Regina Morantz, "Making Women Modern: Middle Class Women and Health Reform in 19th Century America," Journal of Social History 10 (June 1977):490-508; also Nissenbaum, Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America.

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44. For an assessment of the extent of information about contraception available in this period, see Janet Farrell Brodie, Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), pp. 158-68. Our Bodies, Ourselves, by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, has appeared in several editions over the past 25 years.

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45. For an example of the emphasis given to health reform in the moral reform periodicals, see the long series by Dr. William Alcott, the most popular health reform crusader of the time, "Thoughts on Physiology," which appeared in sixteen installments in the Advocate of Moral Reform between October 15, 1840 and July 15, 1841. For an example of moral reform's contribution to health reform literature, see the AFMRS tract on the evils of masturbation: A Tract to Mothers by the Board of the American Female Moral Reform Society (New York: AFMRS, 1839).

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Document 15

46. Lois W. Banner, American Beauty (New York: Knopf, 1983), pp. 86-94. As another instance of consensus among female reformers and women's rights advocates on this issue, Sarah Grimké's Letters on the Equality of the Sexes included a chapter on "Dress of Women" (in Ceplair, Public Years, pp. 226-30) which the Advocate of Moral Reform reprinted, October 15, 1837, pp. 338-39.

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Document 16

47. This conflict resembles one publicized in a local newspaper in Utica, New York, in late 1836 and early 1837 and analyzed by Mary P. Ryan in "The Power of Women's Networks: A Case Study of Female Moral Reform in Antebellum America," Feminist Studies 5 (Spring 1979):78-80. In this incident a group of young male clerks in the city took offense at a moral reform lecturer who charged them as a class with licentious behavior.

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Document 17

48. The quote is from Article III of the AFMRS Constitution. Advocate of Moral Reform, June 1, 1839, p. 86.

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Document 18

49. Advocate of Moral Reform, January 1835, p. 2. Sometimes exposure led to embarrassment: in 1839 the Advocate had to retract an accusation it had made two years earlier. July 1, 1839, p. 102. Significantly, the AFMRS Constitution included a warning against "tale bearing and slander."

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50. On Eliza Ripley: Albert Annett and Alice E. E. Lehtinen, History of Jaffrey New Hampshire, (Town of Jaffrey, 1934), 2:653, and Friend of Virtue, October 15, 1839, p. 292. On Mary Ann Lawrence: Annett and Lehtinen, 2:486.

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51. For a careful study of the momentary rise and eventual failure of ecclesiastical discipline in churches of Cortland County, New York, in the 1820s and '30s, see Curtis Johnson, Islands of Holiness, chap. 9.

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Document 19

52. Advocate of Moral Reform, November 16, 1840, p. 176.

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Document 20

53. Advocate of Moral Reform, November 15, 1839, p. 173.

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54. Advocate of Moral Reform, March 15, 1844, pp. 41-42; Friend of Virtue, March 1, 1844, pp. 75-79, and March 15, 1844, pp. 93-96.

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Document 21

55. Advocate of Moral Reform, October 15, 1841, p. 159.

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56. Judith Wellman, "Women and Radical Reform in Antebellum Upstate New York: A Profile of Grassroots Female Abolitionists," in Clio Was a Woman: Studies in the History of American Women, Mabel E. Deutrich and Virginia C. Purdy, eds. (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1980), 112-27; Deborah Bingham Van Broekhoven, "'Let Your Names Be Enrolled': Method and Ideology in Women's Antislavery Petitioning," in The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Women's Political Culture in Antebellum America, Jean Fagan Yellin and John C. Van Horne, eds. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), 192-93.

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57. Committee on the Judiciary, "Report for Laws to Suppress Licentiousness"; in New York State Assembly, Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, no. 333, 1840. For a listing of other committee reports on anti-seduction peitions, see Robert Allan Carter, Annotated Lists and Indexes of the New York State Assembly and Senate Document Series, 1831-1918 (Albany, 1992), 1:124 and 2:552.

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