Chapter 10: Democracy in America
1815 – 1840
The elements of freedom in America included the market revolution, territorial expansion, and political democracy. Property qualifications were challenged. Men who did not own property argued for their voting rights. Property qualifications for rights to vote became less and less common in the states. However, instead of being withheld voting rights based on property ownership, men who could not sustain ‘personal independence’ were not seen as being fit to certain rights. This push for the reduction in qualifications for individual rights, demonstrates the change in political ideals. Slaveholders and individuals, who hold hefty influence in the politics, resisted the requests for more rights.
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The effects of slavery were not limited to the states who continued to support slavery. In fact, the effects rippled throughout the nation. The southern politicians held the majority of the political power and laws were shaped to greatly favor the slave owners. The majority of slave owners or the “planter class” were wealthy, controlled the land, and had power and prestige in politics. The wives of slave owners strove for beauty, femininity, and a life of leisure. They were the socialites and became a standard of wealth and power. The luxurious lifestyles of the plantation owners kept the southern states from moving away from their agricultural ways. Because of the dependence on slavery and the investments in cotton, the rate of urban growth and development as well as technology lacked significantly when compared with the Northern states. Even with the lack in development, the southern economy did not plummet but rather, continued to be quite successful. The defenders of slavery thought that slaves or blacks, were not capable or suited for a lifestyle other than to serve them. The racism grew, not only to individuals who took part in slavery, but also to southern whites who did not. They rationalized that to maintain balance and order in the white population, blacks would have to be enslaved. “Douglass argued that in their desire for freedom, the slaves were truer to the nation’s