Reformers began to combat societal elements such as poverty, crime, and cognitive insanity by establishing model institutions based on new innovative theories about deviants and the roots of deviance. Those who investigated urban poverty and crime determined the origins of these problems lied with a failure of parental discipline as well as innate sinfulness. Reformers therefore developed asylums to remove deviants from harmful and corrupting influences and place them into a controlled, orderly environment as well as supply them with moral supervision and disciplined work. The colonial jails in which early American criminals were flogged, branded, or hanged now were used solely to temporarily hold offenders who awaited trial. Specific asylums were designed to isolate criminals and encourage them to contemplate their guilt for predesignated terms of incarceration. Two different penitentiary models emerged in the antebellum era: the “Auburn system” and the “Pennsylvania system”. Under the Auburn system, prisoners worked together during the day but were not allowed to look at or speak to one another, and were confined to individual windowless cells at night. In contrast, prisoners under the Pennsylvania system were confined day and night as well as denied all human contact within the prison. Other asylums were established specifically for the poor and mentally ill that separated the poor into ablebodied workhouses and sick almshouses as opposed to dumping the responsibility of supporting the poor on other people’s households. Reformers believed removing the poor from their demoralizing conditions and encouraging them to participate in positive disciplined labor would transform them into productive citizens. Humanitarian reformer Dorothea Dix was
especially wellknown for her work with the mentally ill and her belief that the mentally ill should be housed in orderly hospitals where they could receive proper medical and moral care instead of being shunned and locked away. All in all, reformers in this field all reflected the positive and humanitarian belief that the solution for deviancy lied in placing them in proper moral environments. Unfortunately, regimentation and incarceration were necessary in order to maintain social control and get these people the help they needed. The ideas were pure but utopian intentions did not protect inmates from prisonlike conditions and policed social interaction.
Prereform, women were caught in society’s categorization known as the private sphere which forced women into the role of the simple housewife whose only responsibility was to run the home.
Women were not allowed to vote, hold public office, denied higher education, and were not allowed to own property. Even still, pioneers such as Abigail Adams began giving women a voice as early as the
1787 Constitutional Convention when she exclaimed “remember the ladies” to her husband as he walked out the door one morning. In the early nineteenth century, other reforms of the era gave women in society practice in fighting for something; they distributed religious tracts, battled intemperance, or worked for peace, all without defying their private sphere. Feminism itself stemmed primarily from the abolitionist movement until sexist discrimination within the movement made women’s rights a separate issue. Starting in 1837, Sarah and Angelina Grimke toured New England giving