Throughout American history, politics changed with the times, forming and growing as new situations and environments took place. However, the most drastic differences occurred between 1815 and 1840. During this time, the North and South develop different economic systems, which created political differences between the regions. Between 1815 and 1840, the number of eligible voters drastically increased as politicians utilized a wider variety of campaigning methods in order to appeal to as many voters as possible, all essentially caused by economic growth. Politics grow to include universal white male suffrage, a strong national government, and nationalism versus sectionalism. Economic Growth (American System, Industrial Revolution, Sectional Economies, Internal Improvements & Inventions) caused the political party changes.
In order to understand and analyze the forces that shaped politics during this time period, political changes must first be examined. One of the biggest changes during this time period was the change in the number of voters. Between 1812 and 1840, the percentage of eligible voters in the United States presidential elections almost tripled, increasing from 26.9 to 80.2 percent while the percentage of states allowing voters to choose presidential electors more than doubled, rising from 44.4 to 95.8 percent, shown in Document A. By 1840, Rhode Island was the only state that didn’t allow all free men to vote.
The second biggest change in politics was the way candidates campaigned. Document D shows a democratic party ballot in 1828, which demonstrates the way state candidates from the governor to the coroner associated themselves with Andrew Jackson, and incredibly popular candidate, in the hope of winning their elections. In this election, twice as many people voted as in 1824. This is in part due to white male suffrage, but was mostly caused by campaigns. Political figures began appealing for popular support, using tactics like public rallies, picnics, slanderous charges, and newspapers to capture attention. Document I is a campaign almanac that promotes the 1840 candidacy of Harrison and Tyler. During this time period, it was common for political candidates to use almanacs, tracts, buttons, effigies, and rallies to publicize and romanticize their records.
Political parties themselves began to change as people like Martin Van Buren tried to go back to old political parties (Document C). He thought that the best political combination would unite southern planters and “plain Republicans of the North.” Van Buren was part of a group of shrewd politicians called the Albany Regency--With the help of their newspaper, the Albany Argus, they controlled party nominating conventions and political patronage (spoils system) while in office. The Albany Argus is a great example of how newspapers came to be a big part of politics. Seen in Doc G, the number of different newspapers in the United States increased to 1,200, with the number...