The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States

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Basic Books, 2000 - Political Science - 467 pages
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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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Contents

PART I
1
Democracy Ascendant
26
Backsliding and Sideslipping
53
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Alexander Keyssar is Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard University. He is a specialist in late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century social and political history. His first book, Out of Work: The First Century of Unemployment in Massachusetts, won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award of the Organization of American Historians. His most recent book is The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association.

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