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Man's Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of the Civil War by Philip F. Gura (review)

Man's Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of the Civil War by Philip F. Gura... 192 � JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Spring 2019) Man’s Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of the Civil War. By Philip F. Gura. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. Pp. 328. Cloth, $29.95.) Reviewed by Tim Roberts Scholars have remarked on the litany of social experiments, many com- mitted to moral and political reform, which flamed in the early American republic. Alice Felt Tyler’s and Ronald Walters’s surveys explained mass movements including temperance, school reform, and antislavery as well as the more eccentric phenomena of utopian communities and phrenol- ogy. Rooted in Protestant evangelical religion, these reforms reflected Americans’ grappling with the country’s diversification and expansion and the spread of market forces. Tyler attributed this reform era to Americans’ general optimism, predisposing them to be open to change. Walters, conversely, located the reforms’ impulse in middle-class Ameri- cans’ concern about modernization, along with confidence that improved or corrected behavior could cure modernization’s evils. Tyler empha- sized the reformers’ lasting impact after the Civil War; Walters deemed their ambition to thwart capitalism a failure. Philip Gura offers a different approach to explore this reform impulse, providing not a social history survey but an interpretation of selected important reformers: http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Man's Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of the Civil War by Philip F. Gura (review)

Journal of the Early Republic , Volume 39 (1) – Feb 28, 2019

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620

Abstract

192 � JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Spring 2019) Man’s Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of the Civil War. By Philip F. Gura. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. Pp. 328. Cloth, $29.95.) Reviewed by Tim Roberts Scholars have remarked on the litany of social experiments, many com- mitted to moral and political reform, which flamed in the early American republic. Alice Felt Tyler’s and Ronald Walters’s surveys explained mass movements including temperance, school reform, and antislavery as well as the more eccentric phenomena of utopian communities and phrenol- ogy. Rooted in Protestant evangelical religion, these reforms reflected Americans’ grappling with the country’s diversification and expansion and the spread of market forces. Tyler attributed this reform era to Americans’ general optimism, predisposing them to be open to change. Walters, conversely, located the reforms’ impulse in middle-class Ameri- cans’ concern about modernization, along with confidence that improved or corrected behavior could cure modernization’s evils. Tyler empha- sized the reformers’ lasting impact after the Civil War; Walters deemed their ambition to thwart capitalism a failure. Philip Gura offers a different approach to explore this reform impulse, providing not a social history survey but an interpretation of selected important reformers:

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Feb 28, 2019

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