Democratic political institutions came to define the nation’s sense of its own identity ● Alexis de Tocqueville: French writer who wrote Democracy in America. He declared that to understand America, one must understand democracy ● De Tocqueville didn’t like democracy
Chapter 10 2 ● HIs key insight was that democracy at this time meant far more than either the right to vote or a particular set of political institutions. It was what scholars call a “habit of the heart,” a culture that encouraged individual initiative, belief in equality, and an active public sphere populated by numerous voluntary organizations that sought to improve society ● Democracy, Tocqueville saw, had become an essential attribute of American freedom ● The rise of democracy represented a profound political transformation. Before, people thought democracy always decayed into anarchy ● Democracy for white males had triumphed by the Age of Jackson ● Democracy reinforced a sense of equality among those who participated and created a divide between those who could and could not participate ● Participation in elections helped to define the people of the united states ● The right to vote increasingly became the emblem of American citizenship ● The market revolution and political democracy produced a large expansion of the public sphere and an explosion in printing sometimes called the “information revolution” ● Steam engine application to newspaper printing led to increase in output and circulation of “penny press” ● Newspapers began to emphasise sensationalism ● Low postal rates caused publications to circulate everywhere ● Political parties spurred newspaper production ● The growth of the reading public was another facet of the democratization of American life ● By the 1830s, the time of Andrew’s presidency, the axiom that the people ruled had become universally accepted as part of Americans politics ● THe vigorous public life of antebellum America was simultaneously expansive and exclusive ● As democracy triumphed, the intellectual grounds for exclusion shifted from economic dependency to natural incapacity ● Freedom in the public realm in no way implied freedom in private life ● Herman Melville: Portrayed complex and heroic black characters ● In the revolutionary era, only Virginia, SOuth Carolina, and Georgia explicitly confined the vote to whites ● In 1821, New York raised the voting requirements for black voters to 250 bucks, excluding almost all of the blacks in the state ● Thaddeus Stevens: Refused to sign the Pennsylvania constitution because of its provision limiting suffrage to whites ● Whites of the revolutionary generation had thought of African-Americans as “citizens of color,” potential members of the body politic ● Federal government barred black participation in military (except sailors) ● Race had replaced class as the boundary between AMerican men who were entitled to political freedom ● Even as focus on race limited America’s political community as a whole, it helped to solidify a
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