Colonial voting restrictions reflected eighteenth-century English notions about gender, race, prudence, and financial success, as well as vested interest. Arguments for a white, male-only electorate focused on what the men of the era conceived of as the delicate nature of women and their inability to deal with the coarse realities of politics, as well as convictions about race and religion. African Americans and Native Americans were excluded, and, at different times and places, the Protestant majority denied the vote to Catholics and Jews. In some places, propertied women, free blacks, and Native Americans could vote, but those exceptions were just that. They were not signs of a popular belief in universal suffrage. Learn more in this article from the Colonial Williamsburg Journal.
The County Election
George Caleb Bingham, 1852
Saint Louis Art Museum
Bingham used his experiences as a Missouri politician to inform his paintings of the mid-nineteenth-century political system. Voting in the nineteenth century was much closer to that of the colonial period than that of today. Although many of the restrictions on property ownership and religion had been eased, the franchise was still restricted to free white men over the age of 21.
The Next Electronic Field Trip
is The Will of the People
October 11, 2012
Are you using Twitter, the 140-character limited social networking site, to help you teach? Some ideas:
- Join the discussion on #edchat. While the main discussion happens at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesdays, any education-related tweet can be tagged with this at any time. You might also search for #TT, which stands for "Teacher Tuesday."
- Tweet your class' daily activities for parents. Not only does it keep parents informed about what their kids are learning, it teaches students how to synthesize information clearly and concisely.
- For older students, hold a running twitter discussion during class with questions and comments, to encourage quiet students to participate.
- Follow @connectcw on Twitter for civics and American history news, quotes, events, and discussion.
Want to share other ways Twitter can be used in the classroom? Have an opinion on whether Twitter should be used in education at all? Join the discussion on the Teacher Community.
The Idea of America
A digital American history program that inspires and prepares high school students for active citizenship, developed by Colonial Williamsburg and distributed by Pearson Education.
Downloadable American History
Lesson Plans from
and Colonial Williamsburg
Connect is hosting a web chat on October 2 at noon EST. Chat with guests Patrick Henry and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as they discuss campaign financing, the influence of political action committees, and the role of the press. Join us on connect.history.org or tweet @connectcw.
For much of American history, voting qualifications were such that very few people actually had the power to vote. These qualifications have changed greatly since then to grant nearly all Americans this important democratic privilege. In this lesson, students will compare and contrast voting eligibility in the eighteenth century and today. They will also demonstrate and reflect on eighteenth century and twenty-first century voting procedures.
Check out our specials, including 50% off lesson units!
Quotation of the Month
"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual--or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country."
The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256.
Colonial Williamsburg for Teachers
21st Century Award
for Best Practices in Distance Learning,
United States Distance Learning Association, 2010
Distinguished Achievement Award Finalist 2011
Association of Educational Publishers