The Right To Vote The Contested History Of Democracy In The United States

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The Right To Vote The Contested History Of Democracy In The United States

Author: Alexander Keyssar
Publisher: Basic Books
Copyright: 2000
Pages: 512

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An esteemed historian offers a compelling re-thinking of the path America has taken toward its goal of universal suffrage. Most Americans take for granted their right to vote, whether they choose to exercise it or not. But the history of suffrage in the U.S. is, in fact,the story of a struggle to achieve this right by our society's marginalized groups. In The Right to Vote, Duke historian Alexander Keyssar explores the evolution of suffrage over the course of the nation's history. Examining the many features of the history of the right to vote in the U.S.-class, ethnicity, race, gender, religion, and age-the book explores the conditions under which American democracy has expanded and contracted over the years.

Keyssar presents convincing evidence that the history of the right to vote has not been one of a steady history of expansion and increasing inclusion, noting that voting rights contracted substantially in the U.S. between 1850 and 1920. Keyssar also presents a controversial thesis: that the primary factor promoting the expansion of the suffrage has been war and the primary factors promoting contraction or delaying expansion have been class tension and class conflict.

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Background Information

It took a long struggle that succeeded in many individual states before voting rights for women were granted nationally by the 19th Amendment in 1920. The rights guaranteed in the Constitution by the Fourteenth Amendment were not adequately enforced before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.