Citizenship Beyond Voting: Antislavery, Female Suffrage, and the Origins of Grassroots Politics

By organizing themselves, ordinary people discovered a way to be part of American politics and ensured that our political history would be as diverse as the nation. And, by doing so, they enriched our political debates. They remind us that in a democracy, citizens should shape public opinion instead of allowing public opinion to be something that is measured and manipulated from above.

Lecture Description

Political history is as diverse as the nation itself. During the decades between the Revolution and the Civil War, ordinary Americans- women and men, Black and white- transformed what it meant to be a citizen in a democracy by organizing at the grassroots. Instead of deferring to elites, they entered politics on their own terms. Many of the most important issues to us today—such as those concerning racial and gender equality– were first raised not by elite politicians, but by the thousands of Americans who organized to ensure that they had a voice in American politics.


Politics Social Movements

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