The Evolution of American Democracy

Topics: Democracy, American Civil War, United States Pages: 4 (1434 words) Published: April 30, 2007
The Evolution of the American Democracy
"United States can be seen as the first liberal democracy. The United States Constitution, adopted in 1788, provided for an elected government and protected civil rights and liberties. On the American frontier, democracy became a way of life, with widespread social, economic and political equality. The system gradually evolved, from Jeffersonian Democracy or the First Party System to Jacksonian Democracy or the Second Party System and later to the Third Party System. In Reconstruction after the Civil War (late 1860s) the newly freed slaves became citizens, and they were given the vote as well." (Web, 1)

"After 1815 Americans transformed the republic of the Founding Fathers into a democracy. State after state revoked property qualifications for voting and holding office—thus transforming Jefferson's republic of property holders into Andrew Jackson's mass democracy. Democracy, however, was not for everyone. While states extended political rights to all white men, they often withdrew or limited such rights for blacks. As part of the same trend, the state of New Jersey took the vote away from propertied women, who formerly had possessed that right. Thus the democratization of citizenship applied exclusively to white men. In the mid–19th century, these men went to the polls in record numbers. The election of 1828 attracted 1.2 million voters; that number jumped to 1.5 million in 1836 and to 2.4 million in 1840. Turnout of eligible voters by 1840 was well over 60 percent—higher than it had ever been, and much higher than it is now." (Remini, 1998) At the same time, however, popular political activity other than voting declined. Judging by available evidence, state and national governments received fewer petitions than in the past, and they paid less attention to the ones they received. In the 1830s, when Congress received hundreds of antislavery petitions, it simply refused to read them. Petitioning, parading, and mobbing...
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