Colonial Democracy Dbq

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Sam Miller
APUSH
Mr. Hammond
9-17-12

During the colonial time period, the thirteen colonies began to develop democratic features. However, many parts of colonial lifestyle were not democratic. A closer look at the time period shows that democracy was a work in progress.

One democratic feature of colonial America was that assemblies elected by the people made laws for the colonies, but this feature had an undemocratic side as well. In order to vote you had to be a white, male, landowner. The Virginia House of Burgesses is a perfect example of theses democratic assemblies in the colonies (Doc. 6). Each colony had a legislature made up of representatives chosen by the people. This was one of the most democratic features of the colonies. However, these legislatures were made up of representatives that only certain people could vote for. The voting requirements in the colonies were very strict. In order to vote you had to be a white, landowning Christian (Doc. 2). This factor of the colonies was very undemocratic.

Another democratic feature of colonial America was the freedom of religion. Maryland’s Act of Toleration was one of many laws in the colonies that protected colonist’s religious rights (Doc. 1). Some colonies where founded just so people could be granted their religious freedom. Maryland was founded as a safe haven for Catholics to escape persecution. Colonies like Rhode Island and Pennsylvania were also founded as a way for people to practice their religions freely. Religious freedom was one of the most democratic aspects of colonial life.

One undemocratic feature of colonial America was slavery. In the colonies slaves had no legal rights and were treated very poorly. Most African slaves were brought to the colonies through the Middle Passage. These slaves were packed onto ships in very tight spaces with little or no food for weeks (Doc. 5). Slavery is clearly undemocratic, but for many people in the thirteen colonies, especially the south,...
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