19th Century America

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In the 19th century the American government went through a dramatic revolution in democracy that profoundly changed the way of life for many ordinary citizens. The average American now had a voice and could impact his community and the country. Though Americans were free to vote, only those with all of the correct qualifications were allowed to vote. The structure of democracy was democratic in principle, but not in application. Despite their claim of equality, the founding fathers left us with the gift of democracy belonging only to the "haves, and leaving out the "have nots." This new revolution began a movement for Americans to be equal regardless of their wealth. The democratic revolution was structurally democratic, but applied as non-democratic with people being unequal. Yes people could vote, but only 21-year old white males could vote. These qualifications were improved from 21-year-old land-owning white males, which was very biased. Land-owning white males set the qualifications, which at the time was a minority in America. The common man was now invited to participate in the process, but still leaving out women and free African Americans from voting. America started to hold direct elections with actual ballots instead of placing oral votes. This process made it more private for people to show their true opinions. This change in who and how people voted made it more difficult for an individual to collect votes and get elected, so political parties were formed.
Political parties created large campaigns and held debates. It created a battleground for votes and power. The election of 1824 had five candidates who all called themselves Republicans: John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, William H. Crawford, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson (Henretta 148). In the early to mid 1800s there were three main political parties: The Whigs, The Working Men’s Party, and The Jacksonian Democrats. The Whigs, mostly wealthy and educated men, believed in

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