Expanding Suffrage Dbq

Topics: Democracy, United States, Suffrage Pages: 2 (818 words) Published: April 22, 2012
In a democracy a country’s people partake in the involvement of the nation’s decision making with the ability to cast their vote for someone who they feel will best represent their beliefs and opinions in government. A person’s suffrage seems like a large privilege- the ability to influence what happens in government. Yet who gets to be granted this right? Everyone, or only a certain group of people who the government feels deserves to be able to vote? In present-day America, every U.S citizen 18 years of age and older, male or female, is allowed to vote, yet this was not always the case. Over the course of a few-hundred years, the United States’ requirements to vote changed several times. At one point, only a white man who owned land could vote. At another time, all man could vote. Eventually, women were granted the right to vote as well. These changes all happened over time and this course of events began with President Andrew Jackson’s period in office. During the Jacksonian Democracy, it was believed that there should be little governing over the people, and whatever governing was to be done should be by the people themselves. Taking this into account, a large debate arose of whether or not suffrage should be expanded. The State of Vermont was the first state to declare their support for expanding voting rights to all males. After many states followed Vermont’s footsteps, in 1821 New York State chairman Nathan Sanford supported the idea of revising the state’s constitution to possibly drop the requirement of a man to own land for the right of suffrage in order to expand the right to vote to all white males. Sanford believed, “…the only qualifications (to vote) seem to be the virtue and morality of the people…those who contribute to the public support we consider as entitled to a share of the election of rulers” (Doc 1). One only needs to have morals and opinions, and as long as they are putting in to the country’s “public support”, they should be able to...
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