Essay Trends in the History of American Suffrage

2016 Words 9 Pages
The Framers of the Constitution purposely left the power to set suffrage qualifications to each State. Suffrage means the right to vote. Franchise is synonym for the right to vote. The electorate is all of the people entitled to vote in given election. The right to vote was limited to white males that owned property in America in 1789 when Constitution can into effect. Today, the size of the American electorate is greater than 230 million people. Nearly all citizens at least 18 years of age can qualify to vote. The history of American suffrage since 1789 has been marked by two long term trends. The first growing federal control over suffrage and second the elimination of voting restrictions.

Suffrage was gradually expanded over a period of nearly 200 years. The growth of American electorate has come in five stages. The first stage happen in the early 1800s. Religious, property, and tax qualifications begin to disappear in every State. Struggling to extend voting rights. By mid-century, almost all white adults males could vote in every State. The second stage following the Civil War, in 1870 15th Amendment prohibits voting restrictions based on race or color. It was intended to protect any citizens from being denied the right to vote because of race or color. Still, for another century, African Americans were prohibited for voting and remained the biggest group disenfranchised citizens, or citizens denied the right to vote, in the nation’s population. The third stage happen…