Cleanliness sidled up to godliness, and the sanitarian movement was born around the middle of the nineteenth century. Sanitarianism was viewed as a battle against a grave social problem. The sanitary movement was now in the genteel business of the cultivation of individual character. Cleanliness had taken its seat next to godliness. The Gilded Age cremation movement was an effort to purify America, and that effort had social and spiritual and sanitary import. The U.S. cremation movement capitalized on and contributed to the cultural preoccupations. Committees of the American Public Health Association, the Society of Medical Jurisprudence and State Medicine of New York, the Boston Homeopathic Medical Society, and even the American Medical Association (AMA) concluded that cremation was a sanitary necessity. At least in the nineteenth century, cremationists won the sanitary argument. The sanitary and social reform movements can themselves be viewed as ritual demonstrations.
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