Formation of Political Parties

Topics: Democratic Party, Democratic-Republican Party, Republican Party Pages: 4 (1415 words) Published: April 30, 2006
The development of what we know as today's two primary U.S. political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, appears to have gotten off to an ambiguous start. While the Republican Party can more precisely trace its roots back to the 1850's, the Democratic Party seems to have several sources over a number of years that contributed to its creation.

The Democratic Party's ancestry dates back to the early 1790's and has several factors that impacted its development, including Thomas Jefferson's influence, and the unrest created by the Federalist policies of Alexander Hamilton during George Washington's first administration. The downfall of Federalist policy and the shift to the Democratic Party began when Hamilton's proposal for a national bank was passed by Congress and signed by George Washington. This was done over the objections of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Representative James Madison, who then realized they would need to make a drastic change to influence government rule. Whereas the Federalists preferred a strong central government and flexible interpretation of the Constitution, Democrats believed government power belonged in the hands of the people and were in support of more rigid interpretation of the Bill of Rights. This can be seen in the definition of democrat, which comes from the Greek word democratia, and means "power of the people," or "the people rule," which is, even today, the philosophy that the Democratic Party stands behind. Between 1790 and 1820, the Democratic Party went by several names, including the Jeffersonian Republicans, Democratic-Republicans and National Republicans. In the late 1820's, the dominant wing of a divided Democratic-Republican Party, led by President Andrew Jackson, deserted the Republican portion of their party, taking the name Democrat and making Jackson the first Democratic President to be elected to office in 1828. In 1854, antislavery supporters dissatisfied with the Kansas-Nebraska...

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Reichley, A. James. The Life of the Parties – A History of American Political Parties. New York: Free Press, 1992.
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