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The Suffrage Act 1808

Under the provisions of the Ordinance of 1787 a voter was required to be a free white male of twenty-one years or more, a resident of the district, and the owner of fifty acres of land in the district. The desire for a more liberal suffrage was apparent at an early date in Indiana Territory. Numerous petitions were submitted. In 1808 the Tenth Congress made a small but significant concession by extending the suffrage to those holding town lots with a minimum value of $100.00. (20)

AN ACT Extending the right of suffrage in the Indiana Territory. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That every free white male person in the Indiana territory, above the age of twenty-one years, having been a citizen of the United States, and resident in the said territory, one year next preceding an election of representatives, and who has a legal or equitable title to a tract of land of the quantity of fifty acres, or who may become the purchaser from the United States of a tract of land of the quantity of fifty acres, or who holds in his own right a town lot of the value of one hundred dollars, shall be entitled to vote for the representatives to the general assembly of the said territory.


Speaker of the House of Representatives.


Vice-President of the United States, and

President of the Senate.

February 26, 1808.


TH: Jefferson

(20) The Laws of the United States of America: Acts Passed at the First Session of the Tenth Congress of the United States (Washington, 1809), IX, 54-55; U.S. Statues at Large, II, 469, cf. 525; Annals of Congress, 10 Cong., 1 Sess., 2834; Carter (ed.), Territorial Papers, VII, 526. For an excellent discussion of the democratic movement see John D. Barnhart, Valley of Democracy: The Frontier Versus the Plantation in the Ohio Valley, 1775-1818 (Bloomington, Indiana, 1953), 161-177.