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43 Suffrage

england, vote, white, voting, colonies, educational and freemen

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43. SUFFRAGE. Suffrage means partici pation in government by voting. There arc two theories in regard to suffrage: (1) It is a privi lege granted by the State to individuals; (2) it is a natural, inherent right belonging to every man. The former is the usually accepted theory; the latter, the outcome of the revolu tionary movements of the 18th century, is to day generally discredited. Suffrage in the English colonies in America was restricted as in England. Virginia began in 1619 with manhood suffrage, but in 1655 and 1670 re stricted the suffrage to-"free-holders and house holders." Similar restrictions existed in the other Southern colonies and in the middle col onies. New England, notably Massachusetts and New Haven, had strict religious tests. Only "freemen" could vote and only members in good standing of some Congregational church could be "freemen." Consequently the majority of the male inhabitants were excluded, the entire list of "freemen" in Massachusetts between 1630 and 1691 numbering only about 2,000. When England secured better control over the New England colonies the suffrage was given to owners of estates valued at 140 or freeholds worth 40s. a year. During the 18th century the freehold test became general. Roman Cath olic, Jews and, in New England, Quakers were generally disfranchised. There was also a moral qualification in New England — a voter must be "a person of civil conversation and quiet and peaceable behavior," not "an opposer of the good and wholesome laws of the Colony.D In the South, no convict could vote. Each colony had its own naturalization laws until Parlia ment passed a uniform law (1746) requiring the Protestant faith and seven years of resi dence. The suffrage was extended very slowly, Ind when the Union was formed, in 1787, in each-. State it was very limited. The qualifi cation 'w,as usually a freehold of 40s. to #.3, or an estate worth f20 to 160, or ownership of a certain number of acres. It has been estimated that in 1787 '',there were in America 150.000 electors from a .Ropulation of 5,000,000 which a hundred years tater would have furnished 700,000 to 1,000,000 The religious re striction soon disappeared,— C.-4 last in South Caro

lina in 1797. Under the onstitution each State regulated its own suffrage. The influence of revolutionary theories upon politics had much to do with broadening the England, where most men w age. In New white, the "rights of man° were believed in; n the Middle and Southern States, where blacks ere numer ous, the rights of white men alone ere recog nized. The new Western States o ered citi zenship on easy terms, thus stimul ling the advance of democracy in the oldc States. Rival political parties wanted more vo es, and all white men were gradually enfra chised. The last property test disappeared in 1 ana in 1845. The abolition agitation has enfranchisement of all whites by asse ling the "rights of man." Before the Civil 37 only Connecticut and Massachusetts restric white suffrage. Alarmed at the rapid increa of foreigners they enacted in 1854 and 18" educational qualifications for voters.

Alternate educational or property qualifica tions exist in Connecticut (1874), Massachu setts (1856), Wyoming (1889), Maine (1891). and Delaware (1897). The payment of poll tax is now required in about half of the States, and in 20 States there is a direct or indirect educational test. The Federal government con fers citizenship upon the alien by naturalization; the State confers the right to vote, subject only to the 14th and 15th amendments. In many States aliens have been allowed to vote after they have declared their intention to become citizens. Indians must become natural ized before voting unless permanently sepa rated from the tribal organization, or living on their own property. As a result of recent war conditions absentee voting is provided for in several States, among which are Ohio, Okla homa, Mississippi and Virginia. The tendency now seems to be toward requiring, as a qualifi cation for voting, longer residence in the local ity, registration to prevent frauds, American citizenship, and the payment of poll tax. The age at which a person otherwise qualified may east his first vote is, everywhere in the United States, placed at 21 years.

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