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Growth and Evolution of Democracy in the U.S.

Discuss the growth and evolution of democracy in the U.S. from 1800-1876 (think Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln). Give examples.

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1. Discuss the growth and evolution of democracy in the U.S. from 1800-1876 (think Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln). Give examples.

Although not described as a democracy by the founding fathers, the United States founders shared a commitment to the principle of natural freedom and equality (1). The United States Constitution was adopted in 1788, which provided for an elected government and protected civil rights and liberties. However, in the colonial period before 1776, only adult white male property owners could vote; enslaved Africans, free black people and women were not extended the franchise. On the American frontier, democracy became a way of life, with widespread social, economic and political equality. The system gradually evolved, from Jeffersonian Democracy to Jacksonian Democracy and beyond. For example, in Reconstruction after the Civil War (late 1860s) the newly freed slaves became citizens with (in the case of men) a nominal right to vote. (2)

Lets' expand on these period of growth and evolution of democracy.


Jeffersonian democracy is the set of political goals that were named after Thomas Jefferson that skearky represents the development and growth of democracy. It dominated American politics in the years 1800-1820s. It is contrasted with Jacksonian democracy, which dominated the next political era. In following elements are gleaned from Jeffersonians expressions in their speeches and legislation:

? The core political value of America is representative democracy; citizens have a civic duty to aid the state and resist corruption, especially monarchism and aristocracy. (3)
? The yeoman farmer best exemplifies virtue and independence from corrupting city influences; government policy should be for his benefit. Financiers, bankers and industrialists make cities the cesspools of corruption, and should be avoided. (4)
? Americans had a duty to spread what Jefferson called the "Empire of Liberty" to the world, but should avoid "entangling alliances." (5)
? The national government is a dangerous necessity to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation or community; it should be watched closely and circumscribed in its powers. Most Anti-Federalists from 1787-88 joined the Jeffersonians.(6)
? Republicanism is the best form of ...

Solution Summary

By example, this solution discusses the growth and evolution of democracy in the United States from 1800-1876, including Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln in the discussion.