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While it is true that the change in state voting requirements was the most revolutionary change to American elections, the two party system was nothing new. Even before George Washington retired from public life and refused to run in 1796, there were two dominate political parties alive and well in the U.S.; The Federalists and the Democratic-Republics.
Other new changes were the number of states involved. This slowed down the results even more because results had to cross the Appalachians and be verified by state election boards in far-flung counties.
Although there were still two dominate parities, political alliances had been redrawn. Politics were divided between social class rather than socio-economic status. The Federalist party claimed industrialists, bankers and northerners, while the Democratic Republicans took southerners, farmers and plantation owners. By 1824, the Democratic party took westerners, farmers, the poor and most southerners. The New Democratic-Republicans took the north, wealthy, industrialists and the bankers.
Between 1820 and 1840, a revolution took place in American politics. In most states, property qualifications for voting and officeholding were repealed; and voting by voice was largely eliminated. Direct methods of selecting presidential electors, county officials, state judges, and governors replaced indirect methods. Because of these and other political innovations, voter participation skyrocketed. By 1840 voting participation had reached unprecedented levels. Nearly 80 percent of adult white males went to the polls.
A new two-party system, made possible by an expanded electorate, replaced the politics of deference to and leadership by elites. By the mid-1830s, two national political parties with marked philosophical differences, strong organizations, and wide popular appeal competed in virtually every state. Professional party managers used partisan newspapers, speeches, parades, rallies, and barbecues to mobilize popular support. Our modern political system had been born.
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