Franchise Expansion

Along with the advance of the early American Republic into the West, the first half of the 19th century saw the franchise extended from a very small class of elites to a much wider and more diverse class (though still a minority of people who would today be eligible voters). This much I'm aware of. What I don't know is who controlled the franchise, i.e. who slowly allowed more people through that gate. As far as I know, states made their own laws regarding who could vote. In addition to pressure from the almost-eligible classes, we could speculate that another reason more people were allowed to vote is that since states were competing for scarce politically-distributed resources their leaders would want to extend their voter base to increase their influence. This would be perfectly compatible with what we've seen is a characteristic feature of modern democracy: the mad grabbing at every resource before someone else gets it.

Does anyone know if this idea has been proposed before, and/or if it holds water?

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I have not heard it before,

I have not heard it before, but I think it an interesting angle.

the number of eligable

the number of eligable voters in a state determined the number of elected officials representing the state in Congress.

or so how I remember it working. don't quote me, I could be lying through my teeth.

I'm not sure about

I'm not sure about historical accuracy, but it makes perfect sense. And look what it's bloody gotten us.

yea, well, the

yea, well, the interpretation of the Constitution and BoR at the time led to this. I think the term "Educated" was overlooked the whole time, or interpreted as "uh cun read!"...

Pick up this month's Wilson

Pick up this month's Wilson Quarterly if you can. There's an interesting article on this very topic that develops what you just mentioned.

I can't say anything about

I can't say anything about the specifics in the American Republic, but the principle you cite is sound. It was explicitly a factor in women gaining the vote in South Australia in 1896: a conservative party deliberately extending the franchise to women under the expectation of them voting for conservative candidates. The rest of the country - and many places around the world - began following suit thereafter.