Partisan Polarization on Black Suffrage, 1785-1868

Partisan Polarization on Black Suffrage, 1785-1868

by David Alexander BatemanCornell University

The politics of black voting rights is often dated to the immediate post-Civil War era. This paper analyzes an earlier period of contestation over black suffrage, recovering the pro-suffrage positions of early Democrats, documenting a subsequent process of issue-sorting along party lines, and placing support for black voting rights within the mainstream of the Republican coalition at an earlier date than is usually appreciated.