Universal manhood suffrage is a form of voting rights in which all adult males within a political system are allowed to vote, regardless of income, property, religion, race, or any other qualification. It is typically represented by a concept “one man, one vote”.


The adoption of Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789 in France led to the re-establishment of universal male suffrage.

In the United States, before the 19th century, voting was limited to a certain group of white males who paid taxes and owned property in all the states. Some decades later, the expansion of male voting took place as the country started to stretch out and gain more liberal thinking with the growth of the population.

By the time of the Jacksonian era in the 1820s, most of the original 13 states expanded a right to vote except for Virginia, Louisiana, and Rhode Island. However, by 1856 all the states adopted voting rights, and almost 90% of the white men could vote. Though most of the Afro-American men were retained from voting, they managed to gain a right to participate in the election by the 20th century.

There were a couple of reasons for the extension of voting right in the United States. Firstly, it was due to the spread of political parties, that forced people to attend elections to gain votes. Secondly, the period of the War of 1812 led to an issue according to which white men could fight for their militias but could not vote.

Though the extension of white male suffrage was not universal suffrage, it led to the future change of the voting, allowing Afro-American and women’s suffrage.