Thursday, July 7, 2016

On remembering our history............

     The America of 1824 was recognizably a republic, in the sense that ultimate sovereignty lay with the people, but much less so a democracy, in which the people engage directly in the political process.  Of the twenty-four states, six, including New York, the biggest of them, left the choice of president to the legislature, which chose the state's presidential electors.  In the others, legislators set the terms of the statewide or district-by-district ballot that determined the outcome.  While most states had eliminated property qualifications for the franchise, only adult white males, who constituted about 18 percent of the population, were eligible to vote.  (A few states gave the franchise to free blacks.)  Fewer than 350,000 Americans, out of a population of 11 million, would vote in the election of 1824.

-James Traub,  John Quincy Adams:  Militant Spirit

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