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Virgin VoteHow Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century$
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Jon Grinspan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627342

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627342.001.0001

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My Virgin Vote

My Virgin Vote

(p.60) 3 My Virgin Vote
Virgin Vote

Jon Grinspan

University of North Carolina Press

Americans agreed that a first vote promised passage, and most considered it a boy’s introduction into civic manhood. Most young American women accepted the ritual as a sacred preserve of men and saw their men voting as a victory for their family, while some harboured resentment. In 1840, young people’s political interest looked more like a momentary burst of enthusiasm than the beginning of a six-decade-long plateau. More first-time voters participated in 1840 than in any other election in U.S. history, and activists began to realize that a first vote was not a temporary fling but instead announced a sustained identity. Though the majority of new voters stuck with their family’s party, more American’s switched allegiances with their first vote than at any other moment.

Keywords:   manhood, first vote, First Vote Clubs, new voter, maiden vote, Union League

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