Was Andrew Jackson Democratic: Mass Politics in the Early 1800s

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The Democratic Republic at the start of our nation’s history was different from the one we see today. Property holders were thought to be more likely to understand public matters, not dependent on others, and would vote judiciously for a government that would not overtax the citizens. Voting qualifications vary by state and it is important to note that in America’s founding, in at least five states free blacks who possessed land were able to vote. Because the founders believed that only property owners were able to vote, they tied property ownership to suffrage.

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The female property owners had the right to vote in New Jersey from 1776 to 1807. Women were excluded from voting in other states because they were considered to be represented by their husbands or their fathers. Those who were enslaved had no vote as they were not seen as citizens. As a democratic process began to unfold in America, these traditions started to change. After the war of 1812, some states began to drop their property requirements for voting instead of requiring that citizens either had to be a taxpayer or had served in the military to be eligible to vote. By the early 1820s, the public demands were expanded by their eligibility spread. While it was focused on men only, it was a major step in opening up political involvement. 

The 1824 election contributed greatly to the rise of mass democracy in America. It saw four major presidential candidates, as no strong factions were dominating the political scene. No candidate gained the needed fifty-one percent of electoral votes to win a presidential election. Andrew Jackson came in with the most at roughly thirty-eight percent of the electoral votes. Since no candidate achieved the majority of the electoral votes, the election was decided according to the twelfth amendment. The House of Representatives was selected from among the top three candidates. John Quincy Adams ended up winning the presidency and Andrew Jackson and his followers immediately accused the House of Representatives of a corrupt bargain made between the aristocratic elites. While Jackson’s accusation had no basis, it tapped into a deeper resentment against restricted voting rights. Many Americans believed that if the common man was able to vote, Jackson would have been president. In the period between 1824 and 1828, most states responded to the election by dropping their property requirements for voting, opening the way for universal suffrage for free men over the age of twenty-one. 

In the years following the election of 1824, Jackson’s supporters opened offices around the country to coordinate his campaign message. The new Jacksonian democrats were the first formal political party and were the first organized political institution to promote, recruit, and help elect a slate of candidates at all levels of office. These campaign tactics helped spread the idea of popular democracy. Andrew Jackson went on to win the election of 1828 by a landslide, but was Andrew Jackson democratic? In hindsight, it became clear that the election of 1824 helped create a two-party system in America, which brought in political participation at the time. With two sides equally integrated into opposing campaigns, the American public was drawn into each election. By the 1840s, nearly 80% of free adult males voted in each election, and parties responded by more deliberately reaching out to those voters. 

Unfortunately, at the same time, some states began imposing racial restrictions on voting in places where none had previously existed, such as in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, the massive expansion of democracy affected almost all Americans in some way. Even though women were ineligible to vote, they participated in politics by engaging in social reform movements such as temperance and abolition. 

In conclusion. Was Andrew Jackson Democratic? was, but politics in the early 1800s were pivotal in creating America’s current system of government and paving the way for popular social and political movements, including the abolition of slavery and an increased movement toward women’s rights. 

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