POPULAR INVOLVEMENT IN GOVERNMENT AND POLICY MAKING GREW significantly during Andrew Jackson’s presidency, but not all segments of society benefited equally. The Declaration of Independence continued to be a clarion call for a wide variety of social movements such as those advocating an end to business monopolies, opening of public lands to settlers, creation of common schools, and expansion of women’s rights.1
Disparate groups found themselves at loggerheads about whether the Declaration’s statement of liberal equality applied to everyone or only to white men. Human rights debates about African Americans’ and women’s rights were even more contentious than those involving workers. If laborers needed public education to compete in an industrial economy, their grievances paled in comparison with those of slaves to whom southern laws denied the most basic rights (such as literacy), or married women who could not vote, no matter how well read.
Slavery repressed the human drive to participate in community governance. The South’s peculiar institution violated the guarantee in the Declaration of Independence that the people have the right to institute government, “laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.” To the slave population, the manifesto was of far greater