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1 The Collision Of Cultures
2 Britain And Its Colonies
3 Colonial Ways Of Life
4 The Imperial Perspective
5 From Empire To Independence
6 The American Revolution
7 Shaping A Federal Union
8 The Federalist Era
9 The Early Republic
10 Nationalism And Sectionalism
11 The Jacksonian Impulse
12 The Dynamics Of Growth
13 An American Renaissance: Religion, Romanticism, And Reform
14 Manifest Destiny
15 The Old South
16 The Crisis Of Union
17 The War Of The Union
18 Reconstruction: North And South
19 New Frontiers: South And West
20 Big Business And Organized Labor
21 The Emergence Of Urban America
22 Gilded-age Politics And Agrarian Revolt
23 An American Empire
24 The Progressive Era
25 America And The Great War
26 The Modern Temper
27 Republican Resurgence And Decline
28 New Deal America
29 From Isolation To Global War
30 The Second World War
31 The Fair Deal And Containment
32 Through The Picture Window: Society And Culture, 19451960
33 Conflict And Deadlock: The Eisenhower Years
34 New Frontiers: Politics And Social Change In The 1960s
35 Rebellion And Reaction In The 1960s And 1970s
36 A Conservative Insurgency
37 Triumph And Tragedy: America At The Turn Of The Century

Chapter 13: An American Renaissance: Religion, Romanticism, And Reform

Research Topics

Universal Suffrage (1848)

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The expansion of suffrage to nearly all white men excited a great deal of commentary about the benefits of "universal suffrage." One group of abolitionist women and men took the logical step of arguing that the fruits of citizenship should be extended to African-Americans and to women. They strongly objected the explicit exclusion of these groups by state constitutions and suffrage laws. In 1848, these activists organized a convention in Seneca Falls and published a Declaration of Sentiments, which stated their radical proposal to more than double the suffrage by including women. In this excerpt from an article in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, the author argued for expanding suffrage to non-property-holders and to women.

Suffrage -- France and America

THE principle of universal suffrage, as adopted in the United States, was the unrestrained exercise of that right on the part of all white male citizens over twenty-one years of age, unless the right was forfeited by some violation of law on the part of the individual. Thus, the white males of age constituted the political nation; and these, according to the several enumerations, state and federal, number pretty uniformly about one-fourth part of the whole people, and these again are divided pretty equally into two parties, which alternately triumph; hence, about one-eighth part of the whole number of souls would govern the nation, or, at least, would appoint the officers who should carry on the government, if the principle was fully carried out. Through the operation of various state laws, however, restraints are imposed which still further reduce the number of legal voters, and render the governing minority of the whole people still more marked. Thus, of the New England states, Rhode Island had, in 1840, at the date of the census, a property qualification for voters; while in New Hampshire , as an instance, no restraint but those growing out of crimes were imposed upon the right of suffrage. If we compare these two states by taking the number of white males over the age of twenty-one, according to the United States census, and the number of votes cast at the presidential election of that year, when probably the strongest vote was brought out, we observe a great disparity...Thus, in New Hampshire, among 100 inhabitants, there were twenty actual voters, and only five per cent. of aged, sick, incapacitated, or neglecting to vote. In Rhode Island , out of 100 inhabitants, twenty-five were free white males, but only eight voted, while seventeen were mostly restricted by the operation of the property qualification.


In many of the states the rights of the "unrepresented classes" have, in the State Constitutional Conventions, received more attention of late, particularly in the mode of protecting them; but it would seem to be better to go directly to the point, and alter their condition from the "unrepresented classes." In the case of property, the relations between man and wife in New-York and some other states have been changed so far, that the married female holds absolutely in her own right the property which comes to her through any other channel than her husband. Thus her property is, before the law, no longer his property. In this position it becomes necessary for her to exercise the control of that property; and a law was passed at the last session of the New York legislature, giving married women the right to vote at elections of officers and directors in corporations of which they are stockholders. That is to say, if a married woman holds 100 shares of bank stock, she can vote at the election of officers and directors. Now, if the same woman holds land and houses forming a portion of the city corporation, has not she as much natural right to vote for the mayor and aldermen who manage the business of that corporation, as for the president and directors who manage the affairs of the moneyed corporation in which she is concerned? This, however, is applying a property qualification to women, and degrading the intellectuality of the voter in the manner pointed out by Dr. Franklin when the property qualification was proposed. Said he: "Suppose a man owns a jackass worth $100, and that property confers upon him the right to vote: very well! he votes, but in the next year the death of the animal deprives the man of the vote: was it then the man or the jackass which voted ?" It is not this ground of the mere possession of property, which, for the most part, she has not earned, that the female influence at the polls would be most desirable; but it is on the ground of the moral influence which the female voice would exert upon the course of government, that the greatest good might be expected. The moral influence of woman in the social state softening and purifying the ruder temper of the sterner sex has long been admitted, even if ever doubted. Her perception of right and wrong is more acute, and her superior love of offspring would form a most powerful check upon that profligacy of legislation, which has not only become so disgraceful, but is so rapidly increasing in magnitude, and which, if no check-upon it is applied, must become subversive of government.

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