The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History

By Meg Jacobs; William J. Novak et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
DEMOCRACY IN THE AGE OF CAPITAL

CONTESTING SUFFRAGE RIGHTS IN GILDED AGE NEW YORK

Sven Beckert

ON APRIL 7, 1877, a crowd of New York merchants, industrial- ists, bankers, and elite professionals marched into Chickering Hall at Fifth Avenue and Eighteenth Street in Manhattan for a meeting of “taxpayers.” Despite their historic distaste for collective mobi- lizations, they assembled on this spring day to discuss a weighty issue: a proposed amendment to the constitution of the state of New York that set out to limit universal male suffrage in municipal elections. This re- markably antidemocratic amendment, unveiled only four weeks earlier, promised to consolidate significant areas of municipal government in a newly created Board of Finance. Property owners would elect the board, in effect excluding about half of the city’s voters. “The real object for which this meeting was called was to assail the principle of universal suf- frage,” the Labor Standard commented with genuine alarm.1

Antidemocratic proposals were not uncommon in the polarized world of urban politics in the Gilded Age United States. Yet, in an unusual show of unity and political mobilization, upper-class New Yorkers gave this radical measure unprecedented political support: this first meeting alone, as the New York Times reported, was “a notable demonstration of the solid wealth and respectability of the Metropolis.”2 Peter Cooper, Joseph Seligman, Levi P. Morton, Royal Phelps, Josiah Macy, Amos R. Eno, H. B. Claflin, and John B. Cornell, among many others, cheered on the speakers who argued that the proposed constitutional amendment would “separate . . . us at once from that continual change of persons which makes anything like permanent and useful administration utterly impossi- ble.”3 Before this warm audience, one speaker summed up the evening’s sentiment by declaring that the idea that “a mere majority should direct how the public expenses . . . should be regulated [was] preposterous.”4 Energized by such blunt talk, bourgeois New Yorkers seized upon this chance to increase their control over the city, a city that, in their eyes, had become dangerously unruly. They confronted, however, an equally agitated opposition of mostly working-class and lower-middle-class New

-146-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 421

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.