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Democracy in America

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As America distanced itself from Great Britain's government, it attempted to create a more democratic society. America succeeded in religious democracy, giving people the chance to choose if they wanted to go to church, and which church they would go to. Also, American society was able to increase political democracy, by giving the less wealthy places in office. Unfortunately, economic democracy worsened, as the rich just became richer, and a lot of people didn't even own land. Social democracy also declined, because the rich still had most of the power in congress. Obviously, from the 1750s to the 1780s, while America improved in some respects, overall it became a less democratic country.

During the later 1700s, America experienced a period of spiritual resurgence, referred to as the Great Awakening. During this time, religious democracy was at an all time high, because not only could people choose to go to church, they could choose which church to go to. As seen in Document I, religion was divided into two groups of people, the new lights, represented in this document by Rev. Ebenezer Frothingham, and the old lights, represented in this document by Rev. James Lockwood. The new lights were people who felt that religion needed to change with the times, and were very lenient on allowing people in their congregation, coming to church regularly, etc. The old lights, on the other hand, felt that people needed to hang on to the old order. Unfortunately for the old lights, the law was in favor of changing religion as well. As seen in Document K, the law allowed people to stay home on the Sabbath and not be punished by the law. Also seen is the law that refused ministers the right to be exempted out of poll taxes and assessable estates, changing a law that was in favor for ministers that supported the old lights, like Lockwood. As you can see, religious democracy had some radical changes over a thirty-year period time, and definitely improved for the better of America.

Another positive change occurred for political democracy during the 1750s and on until the 1780s. By giving the less wealthy a greater percentage in office, as well as having more people voting and elected to office, political democracy during this time period had an extremely positive effect on American democracy as a whole. In Document H, one can see that in twenty years, the percentage of the richest people in Wethersfield holding offices went down by almost twenty percent, while people in the bottom half of the social structure holding offices increased by more than ten percent. Also, as seen in Document G, the amount of people who voted increased by more than twenty percent in a twenty-year period, while people elected to town offices increased by exactly twenty percent. Obviously, political democracy changed dramatically, as many more people were given the chance to hold office, and vote for who held these offices.

Unfortunately, not all democracy experienced a positive change, as economic democracy slowly declined over a thirty-year period. The rich only became richer, as the top ten percentages of adult white males gained more land



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