In this research paper, I intend to analyze the historical events and public activities that created a ground for politically unprivileged portion of 18th and 19th century United States society to express their dissatisfaction and the desire to have a right to vote. I will study how relevant historical events took place in different states or towns, how did the municipal and state authorities respond to them, how the press illustrated these events and what level of impact the events had on the future of the democratization of the voting process in the United States.
As a result of this study, I aim to explain how politically discriminated portions of the society did obtain a right to vote through the democratic process and what factors assisted to this process. My working hypothesis would argue that obtaining a right to vote in the United States society was the product of constitutional conventions, rapid increase in the number of population that resulted in majority of them having an economic participation but no political participation and the formation of political parties that competed for votes.
My research will focus on books that give the account of historic events that unfolded in 18th and 19th century regarding the democratization of the right to vote, such as Alexander Keyssar’s work on the right to vote – the contested history of democracy in United States, and newspaper accounts that illustrated or described the relevant events, informed the society on what different intellectuals think about the issue and raised the mass awareness regarding the problem that should be resolved. For example, Albion Tourgee begins his article
“The Right to Vote” by bringing different questions, such as what is the right to vote, how to regulate it, limits of state and national authority, in what manner it should be asserted and to whom does it attach. Also, the monthly law reported on 1853 describes the constitutional convention that was held in the state of Massachusetts, the outcome of the event and how the event would impact the process of democratization of political power.
Such historical articles or reports illustrate that the majority of inhabitants or citizens had a desire to know their rights better and participate in the political process of the town, state or the country, thus impact the political process.
Alexander Keyssar in his book “The right to vote” brings important historical events, such as the formation of constitutional conventions, increase in the number of population of states, physical act of voting, conduct of elections, voting requirements, property and tax requirements, differences in the state and local eligibility and their role in the democratization of the voting process in the United States. For instance, Alexander Keyssar mentions that between 1790 and the 1850s, every state held at least one constitutional convention, and more than a few held several.
The issues addressed by these conventions were many, but almost invariably a key concern was the distribution of power among the increasingly diverse residents of each state.
While examining the above mentioned historical and other relevant data, I will be studying the level of impact of each event. I will examine how each event that are mentioned in the Alexander Keyssar works or in the works of other scholars and which are illustrated by journals and newspapers allowed the politically discriminated portion of the society raise their voices and concerns and down the road allowed them to gain a political power and obtain a right to vote trough the process of democratization.
By conducting the analysis, I aim to rate the level of importance of each historical event or public activity and analyze the role of each stakeholder, such as inhabitants, citizens, aliens, municipal and state authorities, federal government and perhaps women and slaves. Besides relying on books for relevant historical events, I will also look on how the magazines, journals and newspapers of that time reported the events, and to what level they were engaged in the process of the democratization of the right to vote in the United States.
While exploring these questions, I will be relying and examining the work of wide range of scholars who have attempted to analyze the major historical events and public activities that resulted in or prepared a ground for the democratization of the right to vote in eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Alexander Keyssar, for instance, in his works has focused on relevant historic events and analyzed the role of stakeholders, such as inhabitants or citizens, political parties, local and state authorities, and the federal government. He also attempts to analyze the role the public events, such as constitutional conventions and the role of arguments of delegates.
In his work on the right to vote – the contested history of democracy in United States, Alexander Keyssar has a section where he intends to analyze different ideas and arguments to figure out which factors played a crucial role in balancing the political power, including amendments to or changing constitutions. In should be mentioned that in fact Alexander Keyssar conducts a detailed analysis of different factors, such as he analyzed the role political parties in the process of democratization of the right to vote.
My next level of analysis would include the assessment of relevant newspapers, journals and other printed materials of 18th and 19th century. I intend to find a connection between the press and stakeholders, such as activists, municipal and state authorities, federal government and political parties and see to what level did this relation impact the material that were published in the press.
[ 1 ]. Tourgee, Albion W., Forum (1886-1930); Mar 1890; American Periodicals, pg. 78 [ 2 ]. The Monthly Law Reporter (1848-1866); Sep 1853; 6, 5; American Periodicals pg. 241 [ 3 ]. Alexander Keyssar, The Right to vote – the contested history of democracy in United States pg. 28-29 [ 4 ]. Alexander Keyssar, The Right to vote – the contested history of democracy in United States pg. 34-35 [ 5 ]. Alexander Keyssar, The Right to vote – the contested history of democracy in United States pg. 32-33