4.7 Expanding Democracy

2 min readmay 30, 2020


Sally Kim

Robby May

Robby May

AP US History 🇺🇸

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Expanding Democracy

During the 1820s and 1830s, democracy began expanding in the US during what became known as the "era of the common man" because common men could now become involved in politics and democracy in ways they had never been able to before. Democracy expanded in the following ways:
Universal Male Suffrage
Many states abolished the property qualification to vote and used written ballots, but women and African Americans could still not vote.
Political Nominating Conventions
In the past, candidates for office had been commonly nominated either by state legislature or by “King Caucus”, a closed door meeting of a political party’s leaders in Congress. These were replaced by party nominating conventions. 
Popular Election of the President
All states, with the exception of South Carolina, adopted the democratic method of allowing voters to choose their electors to the electoral college (based on the majority popular vote) instead of the state legislatures choosing. 

Election of 1824

Four different candidates ran as Democratic-Republicans: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay. While Jackson won most popular and electoral votes, he did not gain the majority.
The House of Representatives chose among the candidates with the exception of Clay.
Clay had given his support for Adams and later became the Secretary of State for Adams. Jackson claimed Clay and Adams had a corrupt bargain (a deal behind close doors to make Clay the Secretary of State while giving his support to Adams). Jackson was infuriated and basically began his campaign for the 1828 election right then.

Presidency of Quincy Adams

Once elected, John Quincy Adams refused to replace many appointees and placed most qualified people into positions even if they thought politically different. Due to Adams’ lack of interest, Martin Van Buren took control over the House of Representatives and the Senate and effectively blocked Adams’ decisions.

The Revolution of 1828


Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia

When JQA sought reelection in 1828, Jacksonians were ready for him. Going beyond parades and barbecues, Jackson’s party resorted to smearing the president and accusing JQA’s wife of being born out of wedlock. JQA’s supporters returned in kind accusing Jackson’s wife of adultery. Voter turnout exploded. Jackson was elected to office as people remembered him as the war hero of the Seminole Wars and Battle of New Orleans. 
🎥 Watch: AP United States - Age of Jackson
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