A Brief American Political Party History
🕒 29-May-2023

A Brief American Political Party History


How did the Democratic and Republican parties come to be? What do the different political parties today stand for? In this article, we’ll give you an overview of modern-day political party history, followed by a brief rundown of each so that you can better decide which party aligns with your political views best.

Political Party History Beginnings

The first political party history in the United States was establish during the 1790s when Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson’s competing views of national government created two opposing groups. The Federalist Party, led by Hamilton, supported a strong central government and believed that people living in the eastern states should have more influence in national affairs than those living in the less populated western states. Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party, on the other hand, held that people should be able to elect their officials and believed that each state should have equal representation in Congress.

These parties would evolve into what we now know as the Democrat and Republican parties, respectively. However, this arrangement did not last for long because the Missouri Compromise (1820) admitted Missouri to the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free. When new states form from land acquired through the Louisiana Purchase or due to population growth west of the Mississippi River, they were always admit with or without slavery according to this rule; thereby maintaining an equal balance between slave and free states until 1848.

Eventually, this balance resulted in discord between both parties; Northern Republicans became antislavery, while Southern Democrats remained pro-slavery. As a result, the Whigs form in 1833 (largely made up of northerners) and were largely replace by Republicans after they dissolve in 1856 over these differences.

The Lincoln Era (1860-1865)

At the beginning of the 1860s, one party dominated the United States. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison founded the Democratic-Republican Party. The Republican Party, which had previously know as the Whig Party, became Democrats in 1856 when they nominate ex-Democratic congressman John C. Fremont as their first presidential candidate.

At this time, Abraham Lincoln was just a lawyer from Springfield with no national reputation or Pork Barrel Politics experience other than his service in President Zachary Taylor’s cabinet during the Mexican War and four terms in Congress during which he opposed slavery extension in Kansas and favored an amendment to abolish it from US territory.

In the election campaign of 1860, Lincoln opposed not only slavery but also any interference with Southern states’ rights. He also argue that democracy should be extend westward as far as possible and that a new transcontinental railroad would bind North and South together economically.

Political Party History: Reconstruction Era (1866-1896)

The Reconstruction Era (1866-1896) was a time following the Civil War when the United States attempted to rebuild its society and economy. The Reconstruction Era’s legacy is hotly debate, with some historians crediting it as laying the groundwork for a more equitable society. In contrast, others argue it led to an era of corruption and institutionalized racism.

The party system from this era can be trace back to General Ulysses S. Grant, who served as president during these years (1868-1876). Grant supported Radical Republicans and Democrats in his cabinet, which created political instability because Grant would switch between Republican and Democrat policies depending on which party he favored.

political party history

The Progressive Movement (1900-1917)

The Progressive Movement was a period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when progressive reformers sought to replace the traditional economic and social order with a new one that would eliminate poverty and injustice. This was also a political journal movement, which included the creation of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, representing these differing ideologies. 

The Republican Party emerged from the progressive movement in 1854, with its members seeking to achieve their goals through an active government. Members believe it was not enough for citizens to be given rights; they also need protection from economic exploitation. The Democratic party emerged as an opposition party to this idea, believing that citizens should have more freedom than the Republicans proposed- including freedom from government regulation.

World War I and the League of Nations (1917-1920)

The Republican president, Woodrow Wilson, wanted to create an organization that would keep the peace, settles disputes, and end wars. His idea was to have all countries agree and follow the rules. To do this, he proposed a League of Nations. However, when Wilson asked for Congress to approve joining the League of Nations in 1918, Republicans and Democrats refuse because they did not want America to be involve in European affairs.

As a result, the Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, and people were worry about what would happen if America joined the League. In 1919 and 1920, there was a split between two factions within the Democratic Party: those who supported Wilson’s foreign policies and those who opposed them.

Coolidge, Hoover, and the Great Depression (1920–1932)

The Republican Party was the dominant political party history from the onset. They elected a president in every election but one between 1860 and 1912. The only exception was in 1884 when Grover Cleveland won the presidency as a Democrat. However, Republicans remained competitive by winning five out of six presidential elections with James Garfield (1880), Benjamin Harrison (1888), William McKinley (1900), Theodore Roosevelt (1904, if you count his running mate), and William Howard Taft (1908). The Democratic Party became more competitive following their victory in 1932 with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies and continued to be formidable through 1964 when Lyndon B.

For More Details:

Political Party of The President: A Reflection of America’s Politics

FDR, New Deal, and World War II (1933–1945)

The Great Depression caused an enormous decline in the living standards of middle-class Americans. The depth and length of the Great Depression had a profound impact on FDR’s domestic agenda. FDR responded to the crisis with a program known as the New Deal, which included various measures designed to help overcome economic problems. These included relief for those who were unemploye and reforms that were intend to stabilize the banking system. However, most historians agree that World War II finally ended the economic depression in America by creating millions of jobs in both military production and other work related to wartime needs.

Postwar America to 1968

The Republican Party is the oldest political party history in the US, founded in 1854. The Democratic Party was form in 1828 as a coalition of various groups opposing slavery and championing individual rights. The Republican Party is known for its conservative economic policies, while the Democratic Party has tend to favor more liberal policies. 

The parties change considerably over time; they once supported slavery and now oppose it; they once oppose anti-trust laws and now support them; they once favored free trade and are now divide on it, and they once favored isolationism but are now committ to internationalism. These shifts have occurred at different times with each party, but both parties have tended to change their positions over time.

political party history

Final Thoughts

We started with the Federalists and their opponents, the Democratic-Republicans. The Federalists favored a strong national government and an alliance with Britain, while the Democrat advocated for more local power. No party had a majority in Congress until 1824, when Andrew Jackson’s Democrats began to get a majority in Congress. In 1832, Jackson’s Democrats became known as the Democratic Party and had been the dominant party ever since.