According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of democracy is:
"1: a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting
2: an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights"
This is a good definition for democracy, however it is vital that the second part of this definition be followed strictly to maintain a true democracy. All people, no matter what the social or economic class, should have the same rights as all other people. Someone's beliefs or their appearance should not govern how they are treated. However, these things were often not the case in the early stages of American democracy.
In the 19th century, The United States were not completely democratic. In a 1852 painting by George Bingam, he depicts some of the flaws of the American "democratic" election system.
|The County Election - George Bingam, 1852|
The democracy of 19th century America was also restricted by strict voting regulations. In order to vote, one must: be white, be a male, and must own $50 of property. This vastly restricted the amount of people who could vote. In 1816, presidential electors were not elected by the people, they were all elected by legislature, therefore making the government highly undemocratic. Through time, however more states began to have the electors chosen by people's vote. By 1836, all electors were elected by the people, except in South Carolina. The American "democratic" system was far from democratic in the 19th century. There were many restrictions in voting that made it so that only certain few people could vote.