Mass Democracy

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The years between 1820 and 1840 were filled with history altering social and political changes which continue to affect our society today. These changes all revolve around the new concept of mass democracy, in which the common man or farmer controlled the vote and the way things were ran in government. This was made possible by the new reduced voting restrictions that gave all white males the right to vote, and not just wealthy land owning white males. Mass democracy’s formation led to new campaigning strategies for politicians, newly formed political parties which played a necessary part in the use of the nation’s checks and balance system for political power, and new ideas for the betterment of the country. Leaders such as John Marshall, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William Henry Harrison had to decide whether to adapt to the constantly changed political ideas of the majority, or continue instituting the federalist views laid out by their forefathers, despite their unpopularity. Thanks to this adaption to change, these men were able to recognize the social and political changes occurring and give the country mass democracy.

Andrew Jackson has been referred to as the face of mass democracy, thus why this time period is often referred to as the Jacksonian Era. Jackson was able to win two terms as president by campaigning rather than relying on conventions. Instead of having the people come to him, Jackson went to the people. This switch in campaigning proved beneficial; by 1840 seventy-eight percent of eligible voters cast their vote, a dramatic increase from that in 1820. Jackson proved to be the voice of the common man in many instances by making decisions favorable to his supporters, or the majority. After Jackson’s election he awarded important political offices to those who supported him during his campaigning, called the spoils system. By doing so, Jackson demonstrated that democracy was not a just system, but filled with cronyism like all other...
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