With the principles of democracy firmly established after the War for Independence, Americans in the 1800s took their politics very seriously. As more and more male citizens gained the right to vote, elections became very public, hotly contested, and sometimes even violent. In the cities and towns of America, politicians courted political power and influence among new immigrant communities; buying votes and stuffing ballot boxes was shockingly common. While the major national political issues of foreign policy, taxation, the abolition of slavery, and states’ rights took center stage in Congress, Americans split along regional and party lines that still exist in the twenty-first century. Scandals over greed and corruption caused whole city governments to fall, but America also produced some of the greatest statesman and political leaders in its history. Former slaves, poor immigrants, and women demanded their right to vote.
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