During the nineteenth century, the rules of local politics at the Swedish parishes were changed. From having been based on land ownership (mantal), the numbers of votes became distributed in proportion with the taxable income in the 1860s. Similar to shareholders of a joint-stock company, the parishes’ residents received more votes (fyrkar), the higher taxable income they had. A single person could thus have several thousand votes, and even attain the majority of votes in a single parish.
In this paper, I will analyse the impact of this change in voting rights on the expansion of the elementary school system in Sweden, 1840-1900. What consequences did the changing voting rights have on e.g. the establishment of new schools, the hiring of teachers and the purchasing of new textbooks and teaching materials?
Through an extensive study of 12 parishes in the Sundsvall region, this paper, informed by studies in the social and economic history of education, will show how the basic political conflicts of schooling changed over time. Instead of pitting landholding peasants against landless crofters, the voting system of the late nineteenth century pitted those with a high taxable income against those with a low taxable income. The conflicts also changed character, for various reasons that are investigated in this paper. From being focused on the employment of teachers, the geographical positioning of schools, and the purchase of textbooks during the 1840s and the 1850s, the conflicts came to centre on the erection and funding of school buildings.
International Standing Conference in the History of Education, 21-24 August 2013, Riga