The Rise of Mass Politics

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The Rise of Mass Politics

1) The Expanding Electorate

Every state democratized its electorate; dropping or reducing voting requirements.

James Kent argued property qualification should survive for electing senators.

Conservative legislature in RI blocked all efforts of democratization.

Thomas L. Dorr and the “People’s Party” drafted new constitution n began to set up a new govt with Dorr as governor, 2 govts were claiming RI.

The old govt claimed Dorr n followers as rebels n began to imprison them. Dorr surrendered and was imprisoned The old guard drafted new constitution and expanded suffrage.

2)The Legitimization of Party

Higher levels of voter participation due to expanded electorate but also strengthening of party organization and loyalty

1820s/1830s saw permanent, institutionalized parties become desirable part of political process. Began at state level in NY w/ Martin Van Buren’s factional “Bucktails”. Party’s preservation thru favors, rewards, patronage leaders goals

Parties would check/balance one other, politicians forced 2 rep. will of the ppl

By late 1820s new idea of party spreading beyond NY, Jackson’s 1828 election seemed to legitimize new system. By 1830s national 2-party system: anti-Jackson forces called Whigs, his followers called Democrats

3)“President of the Common Man”

Democratic party embraced no uniform ideological position, committed to offer equal protection and benefits by assaulting eastern aristocracy to extend opportunity to rising classes of the W + S, preserve white-male democracy thru subjugation of African Americans and Indians

Jackson’s first targets entrenched officeholders of fed govt, wanted to simplify official duties to make office more accessible. Removed nearly 1/5 of office-holders removed b/c misuse of govt funds or corruption

Jackson’s supporters embraced “spoils system”, making right of elected officials to appt followers to office established feature of American politics...
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