Cat. 21

Rhode Island Constitution of 1842

Curator Commentary

The U.S. Constitution allowed each state to set its own qualifications for voting. Many early state constitutions granted voting rights or suffrage only to male citizens who owned a certain amount of property. Attitudes changed, and states began to eliminate property qualifications for voting. Rhode Island finally did so in 1842 after a divisive internal conflict that saw the state nearly descend into civil war.

Even though most white men in the mid-nineteenth century enjoyed a full voice in the political system, many other groups of Americans continued to see their voting rights restricted or denied.

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