Who could vote in Early America? And who could participate in representative government?
Historians James Kloppenberg, the Charles Warren Professor of History at Harvard University, and Amy Watson, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, join us to explore who democracy was meant for and how those who lived in colonial British America understood and practiced representative government.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
James Kloppenberg, the Charles Warren Professor of History at Harvard University, and Amy Watson, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama, Birmingham take us through the origins of representative government, the practice of voting, and elections in colonial British America.
What You’ll Discover
- The origins of the terms “democracy” and “republic”
- The origins of the practice of popular sovereignty in English governance
- Why British North Americans deviated from the English standard of governance
- Differences in the number of men who could vote in 17th- & 18th-century England & British North America
- Why some might consider 17th-century New England town meetings as fledgling democracies
- The origins of the first election for a town official in New England
- Difference between colonial New England & colonial Virginia’s practices of democracy
- The significance of land ownership as a qualifier to vote
- How far the colonies had deviated from English practices of democracy by the American Revolution
- Who was qualified to vote and who was excluded from voting in colonial British North America
- What Election Day was like in colonial British North America
- Variations in election day experiences and practices across colonial America
- The practice of treating in elections
- How women and people of color participated in election day
- Inherited English political traditions and partisanship
- Westchester, New York Election Day 1733 and its connections with English political events
- Philadelphia Election Day Riots of 1744
- Potential for violence during election day
- How colonial election practices influenced the founders
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- James Kloppenberg
- Toward Democracy: The Struggle for Self-Rule in European and American Thought
- Amy Watson
- “The New York Patriot Movement: Partisanship, the Free Press, and Britain’s Imperial Constitution, 1731–39
Support Ben Franklin's World
- Episode 038: Carolyn Harris, Magna Carta
- Episode 143: Michael Klarman, The Making of the United States Constitution
- Episode 243: Joseph Adelman, Revolutionary Print Networks
- Episode 250: Virginia, 1619
- Episode 255: Martha S. Jones, Birthright Citizens
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