The simple act of adding your name, along with others, to an official appeal asserts your political identity and rights. While petitioning has been open for everyone, it was especially important for those barred from voting. In the early Republic, mass petitioning provided poor white men, women, free blacks, and other minorities a means to voice grievances and to claim a role in determining the direction of the country.
Petitioning has maintained a role in the democratic process. Whether they are traditional paper forms or electronic mailings, petitions continue to offer a means for individuals to shape political discourse.
Petitions to Congress
The first nationally organized petitioning drive was a protest against the federal government removing Cherokee Indians from their eastern native lands. Since then petition drives have focused on topics as diverse as can be imagined.