American election campaigns in the 19th century
In the 19th century, a number of new methods for conducting American election campaigns developed in the United States. For the most part the techniques were original, not copied from Europe or anywhere else. The campaigns were also changed by a general enlargement of the voting franchise—most states began removing or reducing property and tax qualifications for suffrage (the last to remove all property requirements was North Carolina in 1856) and by the early 19th century the great majority of free adult white males could vote (Rhode Island being a notable exception, though the constitution was considerably liberalized after an 1844 Rebellion). In addition, during and after Radical Reconstruction, black males in the South were enfranchised, and technically were afterwards, though widespread voting by blacks was a practical impossibility after the 1877 withdrawal of federal troops from the South.The system was characterized by two major parties who dominated government at the local, state and national level, and enlisted most voters into a loyal ""army"" of supporters. There were numerous small third parties that usually were short-lived or inconsequential. The complex system of electing federal, state and local officials meant that election campaigns were both frequent and consequential in terms of political power. Nearly all government jobs were distributed on a patronage basis to party workers. The jobs were honorific and usually paid very well. The best way to get a patronage job was to work in the election campaign for the winning party, and volunteers were numerous. Elections provided Americans with much of their news. The elections of 1828-32, 1854–56, and 1894–96 are usually considered Realigning elections.