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The American Ballot Box in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

$80.00 (P)

  • Date Published: April 2004
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521831017

$ 80.00 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Unlike modern elections, the American polling place of the mid-nineteenth century was thoroughly endowed with symbolic meaning for individuals who otherwise would not have had the least interest in politics. This made the polls exciting and encouraged men to vote at far higher rates than they do today. Men who approached a polling place were met by agents of the major political parties. They treated the voters with whiskey, gave them petty bribes, and urged that they should be loyal to their ethnic and religious communities. As reported in the eyewitness accounts of ordinary voters, the polls were almost always crowded, noisy, and often, violent.

    • Dozens of individual accounts of voting that show how popular culture shaped American democracy
    • Explains why the United States was able to combine democracy and development as a developing nation
    • Bridges the interpretive chasm between economic and religious or cultural factors influencing voters
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Richard Bensel has written a fascinating book on a timely subject, the nature of polling places in the United States at the juncture between the second and third party systems. His cogent description of how balloting actually took place raises provocative questions about the interpretation of nineteenth-century elections, the development of modern democracy, and the dilemmas inherent in electoral institutions." Perspectives On Politics

    "The lore of the ballot box is unforgettable. Benselas rendering of it provides an excellent lesson in precision of description and, most important, it provides a picture we have unavailable in any other book I know of." Civil War History

    "Richard Bensel's meticulous and perceptive investigation of how voters behaved on election day during the Civil War era is a very important book whose findings will offer little encouragement to 'rational choice' theorists or to policymakers currently engaged in democratic nation-building." Michael Perman, University of Illinois at Chicago

    "This study is fascinating and readable." Political Science Quarterly, Howard W. Allen, Southern Illinois University, Cardbondale

    "When historians and political scientists systematically began to explore the nineteenth-century voting universe about four or five decades ago, The American Ballot Box would have been extremely useful. That assertion in no way diminishes its contribution now, and the likelihood is that it will rekindle debates over such issues as the degree of fraud in those high-turnout elections and, at minimum, bring an expanded awareness to analysis of nineteenth-century elections...the value of a book that answers and raises so many questions cannot be underestimated. Would that this book was available many years ago; its appearance now is most welcome." Ron Formisano, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

    "this is a provocative book, sure to have important consequences for how scholars interpret nineteenth-century politics."
    American Historical Review, Mark Voss-Hubbard

    "This important and provocative book should be in the library of everyone interested in nineteenth-century American politics." - Speculum Thomas E. Jeffrey, Rutgers University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2004
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521831017
    • length: 320 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 158 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.537kg
    • contains: 5 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Structure and practice of elections
    3. Social construction of identity in Eastern rural communities
    4. Ethno-cultural stereotypes and voting in large cities
    5. Frontier democracy
    6. Loyal oaths, troops, and elections during the civil war
    7. Conclusion.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • War, Peace, and Globilization
  • Author

    Richard Franklin Bensel, Cornell University, New York

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