The Early National and Jacksonian Periods
Women's participation in partisan politics during the first several decades under the new federal Constitution must be divided into two parts. The initial decades--the 1790s through the 1820s--sometimes referred to as the Early National period, would see women playing a slightly larger political role than before. Occasionally they even engaged in open electioneering. For example, a Frenchman observing election day proceedings in Virginia in 1791 reported that in some towns "women go about canvassing, running from shop to shop; they beg for votes."1 However, most of the female politicking undertaken at the time probably still occurred behind the scenes. Not until the 1830s and 1840s, in the so-called Jacksonian era, do we find women engaged in public political activity on a broad scale.
The period began with certain women of one state still being permitted to vote. The New Jersey Constitution of 1776 had opened the way for property-holding single women to exercise the suffrage, and they would for a time continue to do so. Indeed, in 1790, such voting was reaffirmed by statute, and the numbers at the polls gradually increased. Both parties in the state--the Federalists and the Republicans--actively campaigned for women's votes, especially around the turn of the century when the struggle between the two reached its highest levels. Yet within a few years, the Federalists, who had initially benefited the most from female voting,