Yet, without the period of spirited public debate the reform movements may have been locked into silence. The reformers, while not being able to avert political problems, were able to bring reform into the public debate in the areas of race, gender, and class.
It would appear that the antebellum reformers were a failure on race, but the results would come after this period. The Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850 (and its subsequent overturning), and the Fugitive Slave Act were the product of this period that showed no promise for the race equality that reformers called for. Yet, the backlash against the movement and the hope that was contained in the reformers' message precipitated the Civil War and the end of slavery. According to Epps, the reform would go far beyond the mere releasing of slaves and would "...require far-reaching changes in the state-federal balance, the federal separation of powers, and the internal political systems of the individual Southern states" (180). This restructuring of the Union, though no yet realized in 1860, had gained momentum and was a successful reform movement.
The movement towards reform also affected women's rights and by 1860 had formed coalitions that were working for the rights of women and minorities.