How did politics become more democratic between 1824 and 1840, in terms of changes in voter participation, political parties, and campaigning?

Expert Answers
saintfester eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Politics definitely became more democratic between 1824 and 1840. One change was that nominating conventions replaced nominating caucuses. With the use of nomination conventions, the party members would choose the candidates that would run for office. Under the caucus system, it had been the party leaders that chose who would run for office.

Another example would be the development of the spoils system. With this system, the candidate who wins an elected office, such as the President of the United States, gives government jobs to those people who supported that candidate. Andrew Jackson gave government jobs to many of his supporters. Many of these people were common people, which helped to break the hold the upper class had held on government jobs.

One additional example is that in some states, males no longer had to own property in order to be able to vote. This allowed more males to vote in elections. Finally, people began to choose the electors to the Electoral College instead of the state legislatures choosing them.

sidihorne | Student

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.