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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > About Indiana - History and Trivia > Explore Indiana History by Topic > Indiana Documents Leading to Statehood > The Suffrage Act, 1809 The Suffrage Act, 1809

The qualifications for voting set the Northwest Ordinance were liberalized by the act of February 26, 1808 (see above, p. 47). In an act of February 27, 1809 the qualified electors were authorized to select the congressional delegate and the members of the legislative council who had formerly been appointed by the President from a list submitted by the lower house of the territorial legislature. The process of democratization was continued in the following act (March 3, 1811). Any free white male who could produce evidence of having paid a county or territorial tax was enfranchised. (25)

AN ACT to extend the right of suffrage in the Indiana Territory, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted, etc. That each and every free white male person, who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years, and who shall have paid a county or Territorial tax, and who shall have resided one year in said Territory, previous to any general election, and be at the time of any such election a resident of said Territory, shall be entitled to vote for members of the Legislative Council and House of Representatives of the Territorial Legislature, and for a Delegate to the Congress of the United States for said Territory.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the citizens of the Indiana Territory, entitled to vote for Representatives to the General Assembly thereof, may, on the third Monday of April next, and on the third Monday of April biennially thereafter (unless the General Assembly of said Territory shall appoint a different day), elect one Delegate for said Territory to the Congress of the United States, who shall possess the same powers heretofore granted by law to the same.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That each and every sheriff that now is or hereafter may be appointed in said Territory, who shall either neglect or refuse to perform the duties required by an act, entitled "An act extending the right of suffrage in the Indiana Territory, and for other purposes," passed in February, one thousand eight hundred and nine, shall be liable to a penalty of one thousand dollars, recoverable by action of debt, in any court of record within the said Territory, one-half for the use of the informer, and the other for the use of the Territory.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That any person holding, or who may hereafter hold, any office of profit from the Governor of the Indiana Territory, (justices of the peace and militia officers excepted), shall be ineligible to, and disqualified to act as a member of the Legislative Council or House of Representatives for said Territory.

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That each and every sheriff, in each and every county, that now is or hereafter may be established in said Territory, shall cause to be held the election prescribed by this act, according to the time and manner prescribed by the laws of said Territory and this act, under the penalty of one thousand dollars, to be recovered in the manner and for the use pointed out by the third section of this act.

Approved, March 3, 1811.

(25) Annals of Congress, 11 Cong., 3 Sess., 1347-1348; Laws of the United States, X, 368-370; Kettleborough (ed.), Constitution Making in Indiana, I, 58-59.