Colonial Government and Politics

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Who had voting rights in the American colonies?

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The primary answer to this question is white male landowners. The colonies essentially followed the English way of voting rights. Colonists believed that only the white male had the mental capacity to vote for such important parts of a society.

Obviously, minorities such as African Americans and Native Americans were...

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The primary answer to this question is white male landowners. The colonies essentially followed the English way of voting rights. Colonists believed that only the white male had the mental capacity to vote for such important parts of a society.

Obviously, minorities such as African Americans and Native Americans were not allowed to vote. Women were also seen as incompatible with the voting process. However, it is important to view these sad truths in the context of the time. Most still believed that, by opening the vote to women and minorities, that democracy would crumble. They believed it would set off a domino effect that would lead to foolish voting practices down the line. In a sense, their vision of democracy was not democratic at all. This irrational fear built the foundation for only white male landowners possessing the voting rights in the colonies.

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Voting began early in the British colonies.  Settlers in both Jamestown and Plymouth Colony voted on various local issues.  Most of the settlers were white men, and they were the only ones allowed to vote.

As the colonies became more established, voting continued.  Men voted for legislators to serve in local assemblies.  The colonies were still ruled by England until the end of the Revolutionary War, so they participated by voting at the local level only.

Both in the Thirteen English Colonies and in the early United States of America, very few people could vote.  In fact, the only people who were allowed to vote were white men who owned land and were over the age of 21.  This excluded women, African Americans, younger men, and white older men who were not landowners.

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