These special issues are meant to reflect on the quincentennial history of Ponce de Leon's landing on the shores of the Florida peninsula and as historians we are challenged to understand and come to terms with the consequence of those actions. The editors of the Florida Historical Quarterly have asked the contributors to explore Florida's past through the lens of a century long view. The nineteenth century presents such a unique challenge for these types of historical reflections because so much by way of technology, communication, transportation, societal relations transformed more rapidly than any previously recorded century. The world was more connected globally in ways that human civilizations had not experienced so that one could take any variety of topics and examine them across the nineteenth century and record a rapid transformation. One such topic is participatory citizenship, because there is probably no other century in recent history that transformed the relationship between governments to the governed more than the nineteenth century. If we look at this from the perspective of the evolution of laws and policies especially for the movements for more inclusive suffrage across nations, these political actions are a connective tissue that provide meaning to political rights and citizenship from the eighteenth century's Age of Revolutions through the post-colonial world. The evolution of suffrage qualifications and rights do not take a linear path across nations. Instead, suffrage expands and contracts due to specific movements and reactions to those movements which then becomes a catalyst for the state to either expand or contract political membership in self-government. Jurgen Osterhammel, argued in The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century that one of the defining features of the century was the fact that as countries around the world were finding new ways to plea for and implement more egalitarian societies, legislation and policies to promote equality across the polity were advocated and sometimes vigorously championed along with measures to enforce and construct social inequality.1 And nowhere in the American past do we witness the contradiction between these forces more than in the story of suffrage.
"The Right to Vote and the Long Nineteenth Century in Florida,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 95:
2, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol95/iss2/4