The Embattled Vote in America: From the Founding to the Present

The Embattled Vote in America: From the Founding to the Present

by Allan J. Lichtman


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The New York Times bestselling author of The Case for Impeachment shows that gerrymandering and voter suppression have a long history.

“Lichtman’s important book…uses history to contextualize the fix we’re in today. Each party gropes for advantage by fiddling with the franchise… Growing outrage, he thinks, could ignite demands for change. With luck, this fine history might just help to fan the flame.”—New York Times Book Review

Americans have fought and died for the right to vote. Yet the world’s oldest continuously operating democracy guarantees no one, not even its citizens, the right to elect its leaders.

For most of U.S. history, suffrage has been a privilege restricted by wealth, sex, race, residence, literacy, criminal conviction, and citizenship. Economic qualifications were finally eliminated in the nineteenth century, but the ideal of a white man’s republic persisted long after that. Today, voter identification laws, registration requirements, felon disenfranchisement, and voter purges deny many millions of American citizens the opportunity to express their views at the ballot box.

An award-winning historian who has testified in more than ninety voting rights cases, Allan Lichtman gives us the deep history behind today’s headlines and shows that calls of voter fraud, political gerrymandering and outrageous attempts at voter suppression are nothing new. The players and the tactics have changed—we don’t outright ban people from voting anymore—but the battle and the stakes remain just as high.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674972360
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 09/10/2018
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Allan J. Lichtman is Distinguished Professor of History at American University and the author of many acclaimed books on U.S. political history, including White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, FDR and the Jews (with Richard Breitman), and The Case for Impeachment. He is regularly sought out by the media for his authoritative views on voting and elections.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction: Voters and Nonvoters 1

1 The Founding Fathers' Mistake 8

2 A White Man's Republic 36

3 Constructing and Deconstructing the Vote 70

4 Votes for Women 99

5 The Absent Voter 128

6 The Voting Rights Act of 1965 147

7 The New Wars over the Vote 180

8 Reforming American Voting 231

Conclusion: The Embattled Vote 252

Notes 259

Acknowledgments 303

Index 305

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