Increase in Democracy in the United States

Democracy increased in the period from the 1750’s to the 1780’s, as pertains to Wethersfield, Connecticut. This is evidenced by the changes in property distribution, social structure, politics and religion during this span of time. When property distribution is considered, there is not much evidence confirming that the country was becoming more democratic (Doc. B,C, D), but it is shown that the land is distributed a little more post-revolution.

In pre-revolution America, the wealth was kept within the same families, as in England. There was not much social mobility, and little distribution of the wealth.It is established that the rich get richer during this period, yet the tax burden is shifted to the rich rather than the poor, a revolutionary idea. Silas Deane, a merchant who moved up the social ladder leading up to the revolution, appealed to Patrick Henry to give landholdings in Ohio to the poorer colonists in Connecticut. This exemplifies the country becoming more democratic because Silas Deane appealed for his fellow colonists to a member of the First Continental Congress, rather than the far away government in London (Doc. F).Instead of hoarding all of their citizens in small areas, like Great Britain would have wanted, the colonists tried to create new communities and gather more landholdings farther west.

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In regards to social structure, it can be said that there was a major progression in the way society was organized in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Between 1756 and 1774, the amount of slaves decreased and the number of free blacks increased. This shows that there was a more democratic way of thinking in the years leading up to the war (Doc. A).

The freemen now had a say in the way that they lived.They volunteered themselves to fight the war for their country, they were able to choose their own officers, and they willingly agreed to obey their orders. This was completely different from the British practice of impressment (Doc. M).

Social mobility played a major role in the change from a colony ruled by a monarchy to a democracy. Because the soon-to-be Americans were free thinkers, they established that anyone could begin their life as a tenant farmer and end it as a wealthy property owner. Wealth was no longer held in the hands of elite families.

For example, in the span of eighteen years, Josiah Grizwold and his heirs were replaced by the previously mentioned, Silas Deane, as one of the wealthiest men in Wethersfield (Doc. D). The politics in Wethersfield greatly evolved into a democracy between the 1750’s and the 1780’s. The fact that more voters registered, even though there was still about the same amount of people able to meet the voter requirements, demonstrated the will of Americans to become involved in their governing.

They decided to take advantage of this new found democracy.Before the war, the average man did not care to vote because their say didn’t matter. The officials were chosen due to their social standing and their connections.

More men desired to be elected into office in the years leading up to the Revolution. Less wealthy citizens were elected into office and the average men became involved in their community’s politics because they now had a say because of democracy (Doc. G, H). Regarding religion, the country was greatly changed.

The government no longer had a say in the religious practices of the people.In the 1750’s it was fought over whether or not the governing body could punish citizens for their religious practices. Some held that the government had no right to intervene in the affairs of the Church, but others said still held the belief of divine right, and that the rulers could punish people for not upholding all of the religious values. Closer to the revolution, churches were no longer state sponsored.

The churches were tax exempt for the prevention of the government controlling the church or vice versa.Democracy holds an important doctrine of Separation of Church and State, this clearly appears in the legal proceedings of Wethersfield, Connecticut. Using Wethersfield, Connecticut as an example of the typical American towns of that era, it can be interperated that America became more democratic between the 1750’s and the 1780’s, but we can not use one town as a basis for the whole country due to the diverse regions. The transformation of the property distribution, social structure, politics, and religion indubitably demonstrate America becoming more democratic.

Author: Dora Curry


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