Democracy in America Between 1780 and 1830

Words: 1366
Topic: History

Democracy refers to a form of government in which the public is involved in governance either through involvement in the election of political representatives or through the exercise of control over governance by conducting referendums.

The United States has always prioritized democracy since its inception as a nation. There is a lot of evidence of the development of democracy in America from as early as the late eighteenth century.

The most commendable democratic steps between 1780 and 1830 were taken during the era of President Andrew Jackson who introduced a democratic form of governance that influenced several changes in sections of the American government.

The early development of democracy in the United States is one of the reasons why the U.S. has had a strong political background, and it can also be used to explain the consistent economic development that the U.S. has achieved (McNamara, 2010, p. 1).

Early democracy was mostly seen in changes in the leadership of the United States since the different candidates who took leadership had different administration methods.

United States citizens could, therefore, compare the different presidents and determine who was better than the other.

For instance, after the leadership of President Jefferson who believed in a strong federal government, President Jackson took leadership with different approaches towards administration.

He believed in a government elected by the people and also believed in more powerful local governments. The contrasting beliefs of these two leaders were very instrumental in realizing the need for democracy in America and thus democracy continually developed through the early years.

Early American democracy was normally named after the leaders of the time. For example, there is the Jeffersonian democracy which was given its name due to the leadership of Thomas Jefferson and his beliefs in the federal government.

Thus the Jeffersonian democracy entails a highly powered federal government that follows the constitution strictly (McNamara, 2010, p. 1). The democracy is also famous for the responsibility is assigns to the local governments to guard the property and rights o the residents of specific states.

Therefore, with the aforementioned responsibility bestowed upon the local governments, they developed recognition of different kinds of property; common and private. This democracy prevailed in the politics of the U.S. between the years 1800 and 1820.

The discussed democracy is normally contrasted with the philosophy that was adopted in the political era that followed. This was called the Jacksonian democracy named after President Andrew Jackson. Jacksonian democracy is the one that gave rise to the current Democratic Party.

Its development faced by a lot of challenges since there were factions that were opposed to the ideas of President Jackson and his supporters. Among the key democratic characteristics of the Jacksonian era was the fact that President Jackson helped to increase the number of the electorate.

Formerly in the Jeffersonian era, the electorate used to comprise only on white adult males who had land ownership. However, Jackson changed things to enable adult males who were white to be eligible to vote.

Secondly, the Jacksonian era increased presidential and executive powers and reduced the powers of the Congress.

This was done while at the same time making the public participate more in running the government. This was a huge democratic step by the Jacksonian government (“Jacksonian Democracy,” 2010, p. 1).

As discussed in the paragraph above, public participation in running government affairs became popular during the Jacksonian era. Members of the public in individual states demanded the inclusion of new values in the constitutions of the states (“U.S. Timeline,” 2009, p. 1).

They also demanded a change in the assumption of office by judges and therefore decided that judges would be elected.

This is as opposed to the Jeffersonian era when judges used to be appointed. Thus there is a lot of evidence from the history of the United States that President Jackson was among the pioneers of democracy in the U.S.

Although Jacksonian democracy started to be forgotten when Abraham Lincoln was elected as President of the U.S., President Jackson had done a lot to make the U.S. achieve democracy.

Among his most remarkable achievements towards democracy during his era were his efforts to involve the public in governance.

Secondly is the change he brought in the election system by reducing the discrimination that was preexistent and increasing the number of the electorate by breaking the social boundaries that were set in the eras before him (“Jacksonian Democracy,” 2010, p. 1).

America slowly perfected the democratic changes that were brought by these early leaders and later on achieved democracy.

Among the democratic foundation set during the period above was the Republican Motherhood which gave women political functions. A movement was set up to work on developing the youth who would later lead the country.

To accomplish this, women were given more political responsibilities and rights (“U.S. Timeline,” 2009, p. 1).

This was a huge step towards the achievement of a democratic American society since in the earlier years, women were normally alienated from leadership roles and thus they played virtually no role in politics.

Among the most famous Republican Mothers was Abigail Adams who bore two presidents of the United States. Among her famous accomplishments was the evidenced raising of her sons to be responsible, obligatory and virtuous citizens of the United States.

This is evidenced in one of the letters she sent to one of her sons when he was at college (Tocqueville, 2000, p. 37). The letter contained passionate advice aimed at urging John Quincy Adams to be virtuous, responsible and just.

Another aspect of democracy that was evident in the post-revolution period was the democratization of Christianity in America which saw the rise of Protestants. This was of course inspired by the relentless fight for political democracy which made religious activists seek democracy in the church.

The result of this fight was the inception and development of a variety of religious movements which included the Mormons, the Methodists, African-American Christianity and the Baptists (Lossing, 2008, p. 1).

The fact that the stated religious movements developed as a result of political revolution made them have a lasting effect on Christianity in the U.S. Additionally; the religious movements also affected politics by giving citizens a desire for liberalism and democracy.

Democracy is very important in economic development. The democratic foundations that were set in the United States political system since its birth have been very helpful in making the United States develop economically.

For instance, the discussed democracy has enabled the United States to have political stability that has ensured that the formulation and implementation of economic policies are achieved without hiccups.

The United States has even extended its quest for democracy to the world at large to ensure that other countries around the globe work towards achieving democracy for economic development (Tocqueville, 2000, p. 41).

The discussed facets of democracy in the United States were very useful in the achievement of a well-balanced nation. The empowerment of women led to a realization of the political responsibility of women which later on led to the activism that gave women their voting rights.

This ensured that a larger fraction of the American society exercises their democratic right of voting. This is among the early democratic steps that the U.S. took in these early days (Tocqueville, 2000, p. 23).

The decentralization of power to give local governments more power was also a commendable democratic step since it gave the public more control over governance. This was also backed up by the expansion of the electorate to include common male citizens without farms.

There was also the introduction of the voting in of judges instead of appointment and the discussed introduction of referendums in the political system (Lossing, 2008, p. 1). This was a huge step towards the realization of political democracy in the United States.

The discussed revolution in Christianity was also important to democracy since it gave the public the power to choose their spiritual orientation and thus the public became more responsible for their spiritual welfare.

It also made the introduction of spiritual faiths in American society easier, and thus there was less room for spiritual oppression since people were able to start their churches.

Reference List

Jacksonian Democracy. (2010). The presidency of Andrew Jackson. Retrieved July 25, 2010, from,

Lossing, B. (2008). History of America: 1780. Retrieved July 25, 2010, from,

McNamara, R. (2010). The election of 1828 was marked by dirty tactics. Retrieved July 25, 2010, from,

Tocqueville, A. (2000). Democracy in America. New York. Barnes & Noble.

U.S. Timeline. (2009). The 1780’s- The Nascent Democracy. Retrieved July 25, 2010, from,