It is well known that only property owners could vote at the end of the eighteenth century, but why exactly was this the case?

At first, voting rights in the United States were limited to certain landowners because the Constitution made no mention of who had the right to vote. It was up to individual states to determine who was eligible to vote. Most states kept colonial voting restrictions in place because that helped maintain established power structures.

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During the colonial period, the right to vote was mostly limited to white men who owned land. In a sense, this restriction was a holdover from feudal Europe, in which political power and land were closely connected. When the United States Constitution was being drafted, there was a debate as to whether the franchise should be limited to property owners or not. Limiting the vote to landowners would mean the oppression of everybody else. On the other hand, expanding the franchise could mean that the rights of property owners could be overruled by the non-propertied majority. The framers of the Constitution decided to pass the responsibility of this decision to the individual states.

As a result, the new Constitution did not immediately establish a voting standard. It was up to the individual states to decide who could have access to the polls. Most states did not see it as necessary or politically convenient to expand voting rights. The established leaders were typically landowners themselves and did not want "the rabble" dictating what they could do. However, there were some notable exceptions. For instance, in 1792 New Hampshire became the first state to do away with property requirements.

Over the first half of the nineteenth century, the right to vote was gradually expanded to allow more white men who did not own land to vote. The biggest push for this occurred during the time of Andrew Jackson, who rose to political power as the champion of the common man.

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