What role did the size and scope of the elective franchise play in the political and economic development of the young United States? In this paper, we explore whether the relaxation of economic franchise restrictions in the first decades of the United States resulted in changes in legislative behavior. We focus on two measures that capture political conflict in this period of American history: ideal point estimates that measure the revealed ideology of members of Congress, and appropriations for rivers and harbors development. We find that the removal of property-holding requirements is associated with a shift in roll call voting and an increase in targeted appropriations on local river and harbor improvements. The results suggest that franchise expansion contributed to the political-economic development of the early American Republic and provide new evidence of an electoral connection in the early American Congress.