I understand that voting qualifications in the USA are a state matter and this didn't all happen in one blow. But which states were the first and last to abolish property qualifications for voting? Was this a controversial step at the time? Was it something that divided along party lines?

I am specifically not asking about:

racial barriers to voting

votes for women

Both very interesting, but not what I want to know.

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    – MCW
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 18:49

3 Answers 3


This happened around 1800, when the USA was growing. The first state to have no property requirements for voting was Vermont, when it joined the union in 1791. So it was not really a matter of "abolishing" those restrictions as of not introducing them in the first place - most new states follwed suit. I think the first state to abolish existing property requirements was New Jersey in 1807 (ironically, at the same time they removed women's suffrage).

The last state to remove property requirements was Rhode Island in 1843, and it took a rebellion to achieve that, and even then the requirements were only dropped for USA-born men, not for immigrants (that took until 1888!).

So it pretty clearly was controversial, and the movement towards extended suffrage is strongly associated with Andrew Jackson and the budding Democratic party, but it's a bit more complicated than simply "one party was for it and the other against", especially since at that time the landscape of political parties was still in flux: the Republicans did not exist yet, and instead the Federalists were still around and the Whigs formed as an opposition to Jackson.

  • I take you meant 1807?
    – o0'.
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 13:15
  • Thank you. Do you know of any book or scholarly work about the abolition of property qualifications?
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 18:01

Pennsylvania's Constitution in 1776 opened the voting franchise for all men who had paid taxes, which was less restrictive than the requirement that voters own property. However New Jersey was the first to remove property and financial qualifications to vote.

  • 4
    Nice points - sources would improve this answer to the point where I could upvote.
    – MCW
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 12:40

South Carolina was the first state (after Vermont) to allow universal white male suffrage in 1810. The 1807 NJ voter restriction still required white men to be worth 50 pounds proclamation money. amrevmuseum.org

  • So South Carolina was the first state to actually change it's laws to abolish property qualifications rather than not having them at all?
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 17:42

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