Apush review Significant Political Parties of U. S. History Why parties?

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Mr. Chapman

APUSH Review

Significant Political Parties of U.S. History

Why parties?

  • Not mentioned in Constitution

  • Viewed as a negative force in early U.S.

    • G.W. warned against them in Farewell Address

  • Parties formed around Hamilton and Jefferson & were an established fact by 1796

  • Serve as a vital link between people and government

  • Major function of parties is to nominate candidates

  • Another role is to inform the people & stimulate interest & participation

  • The party also serves to ensure good performance by its officeholders

  • Most officeholders are chosen on basis of their party

  • The party out of power serves as a watchdog against the one in power

  • While 3rd parties exist, political realities are such that the dominant parties hold the power

  • The major parties seek the same prize (votes) & therefore play to the middle

Federalist Party

  • Original advocates of Constitution

  • Supporters of Washington & Adams admins.

  • New England-based

  • Strong central govt. & promotion of business interests

  • Attempted to stifle dissent w/ Alien & Sedition Acts (1798)

  • Lost to Democratic-Repubs. In 1800

  • Loss of Hamilton left party without powerful leadership

  • Voiced opposition to Embargo Act of 1807 & War of 1812

  • Hartford Convention was last concerted effort

  • Federalist achievements:

    • Used Const. to develop workable system of govt.

    • Established nation’s credit and fostered economic prosperity

    • Created a court system

    • Demonstrated ability of govt. to enforce laws

    • Kept the nation from war & instituted isolationist foreign policy

  • Reasons for downfall:

    • Spread of democratic ideals, especially in the West

    • Growing realization that Federalists didn’t trust the common people

    • Opposition to Federalist economic measures

    • Pro-English foreign policy

    • Seen as trampling civil rights with Alien & Sedition Acts

Democratic Party

  • One of oldest political organizations in the world

  • Originally Anti-Federalists then Democratic-Republicans

  • Small govt., agrarian interests, immigrants, states rights, pro-French

  • Jefferson, Madison, & Monroe – The Virginia Dynasty

  • 1817-25 Era of Good Feelings (no real opposition party)

  • 1824 – Sectional & personal animosities divide party

    • National Republicans (later Whigs)

      • Led by Clay, JQ Adams, Webster

      • Supported by landowners, bankers, merchants, manufacturers

      • Supported strong central govt., Natl. Bank, protective tariffs

      • Resembled Hamiltonian Federalists

    • Democrats:

      • Led by Jackson and Van Buren

      • Supported by small farmers, newly emerging businessmen and city laborers

      • Generally opposed an all-powerful federal govt.

        • Resembled Jeffersonians

Jacksonian Democracy vs. Jeffersonian Democracy



Believed that capable, well-educated leaders should govern in the people’s interests.

Believed that the people themselves should manage governmental affairs.

Reflected chiefly an agricultural society

Reflected an agricultural as well as a rising industrial society.

Limited democracy chiefly to its political aspects

Expanded democracy from its political aspects to include social and economic aspects.

  • Jacksonian Democrats removed property & religious qualifications from officeholding and voting

    • Also increased number of elected rather than appointed positions

    • Shorter terms of office

  • Nominating conventions held to pick candidates, rather than party caucus

  • Jackson had to work hard to keep factions together

  • Example – anti-tariff issue (Calhoun) & nullification

    • Jackson had to threaten force to control extreme state rights faction

  • Pre-Civil War issues fragmented the party

    • Party had difficult time settling on one nominee at conventions

    • 1860 split (Douglas (N) and Breckenridge (S)

    • Lincoln wins & begins decades of Republican leadership

  • Post-Civil War problems for Dems.

    • Bringing Southern wing of party back into power

      • Created “Solid South” one party rule in South

        • Reduced black voting participation, KKK intimidated freedmen

    • Overcoming scandal-plagued Dem. Party machines in cities

      • Tilden (D) makes his name fighting corruption

      • Cleveland wins on Civil Service reform

  • Dems support Free Silver during 1890’s

  • Wilson takes advantage of 1912 Repub party split

    • “New Freedom” progressive program

    • Wilson acted as party leader, guiding Dems in Congress who promoted his programs

    • Wilsonian programs incl.:

      • Preserving and strengthening democratic, capitalist society by progressive reforms

      • Lower tariffs

      • Improved banking system (Federal Reserve)

      • Stronger biz regulation

      • Protection for unions and workers

    • Progressivism ended after WWI, due in part to struggle over Treaty of V. and Wilson’s failing health

      • Last progressive measures were 18th & 19th Amendments

  • New Deal and Fair Deal eras:

    • FDR and New Deal won tremendous support for party

    • Truman carried on many FDR programs & his Fair Deal created more

      • Incl. defense of labor & support of civil rights legislation

      • Some Southern Dems break off to form Dixiecrat party in order to preserve White supremacy in South

  • Dems lost Presidency in 1952 election to Eisenhower (R)

    • Southern support helped Repubs

  • Kennedy won back White House

    • Liberal “New Frontier” and active support of civil rights led to significant legislation

    • Johnson finished many JFK projects & instituted his own “Great Society” and “War on Poverty”

      • Educational, welfare, and civil rights legislation

  • Vietnam War divided Democratic Party

    • 1968 – LBJ refused to run – wide pool of candidates ran, incl. RFK

    • Hotly divided DNC – Repubs & Nixon take advantage & win

  • Watergate helped Dems reunite & eventually win with Carter

    • High black turnout & disgust with Repubs (Watergate) helped

  • Carter presidency very weak

    • Poor relations between Carter and Dems in Congress

    • Some foreign policy victories, but poor economy & hostage crisis in Iran pave way for Reagan “Revolution”

  • Dems unable to break Republican hold on White House until Clinton in 1992

    • Reform Party Candidate Ross Perot splits Repub vote

  • Repubs captured control of Congress in 1994

    • Heavy partisan relationship throughout Clinton years

  • Many traditionally Democratic voters no longer “solid”

    • Some labor organizations and minority groups (recently Hispanics)

    • South increasingly Republican

Anti-Masonic Party

  • 1st third party in U.S.

  • Formed to counter alleged subversion of public institutions by Freemasons

  • Held national nominating convention in 1831 (William Wirt)

  • Focused on defeating Jackson (a Mason)

  • Failed to do so & merged with Whigs in 1838

Liberty Party

  • An anti-slavery party founded in 1839 by abolitionists

  • Failed to win elections, so it merged with other groups to form Free Soil Party

Whig Party (1834-56)

  • Originally the National Republicans

  • Formed to oppose “King Andrew” Jackson

  • Advocated strong federal role in nation’s economic development

  • Program known as the American System

    • Fed. sponsored improvements

    • High tariff & a national bank

  • Not very unified – tended to suffer from sectionalism

  • Won presidency with William Henry Harrison

    • John Tyler (Dem in Whig clothing) succeeded WHH & vetoed Whig programs

    • Expelled from the party

  • Slavery issue divided the Whigs (Conscience vs. Cotton)

    • Cotton Whigs went over to the Dems

    • Conscience Whigs joined Know-Nothings & later, the Repubs

American (Know-Nothing) Party

  • Anti-foreign, anti-Roman Catholic in response to increased immigration

    • Immigrants tended to become part of urban Democratic Party machines

    • When asked about the native-Protestant organization, members answered “I know nothing”

    • South immigration restrictions & increase of nationalization period (5 to 21 yrs.)

  • Party won recognition because of Whig & Democrat divides over slavery

  • K-N’s broke up over slavery as well – most Northern members joined Repubs.

Free-Soil Party

  • Organized in 1848 to oppose extension of slavery into the territories

  • Made up of former Liberty Party members, anti-slavery Whigs, and some New York Democrats

  • F-S candidate in 1848 was Van Buren

    • Divided NY vote enough for Zach Taylor to win NY & the presidency

  • Party lost strength in 1852 election

  • Most members became Republicans

Republican Party

  • Traditionally conservative with support from upper middle class & corporate, financial, and farming interests.

  • Generally Laissez-faire, free enterprise, fiscal responsibility & opposed to welfare state

  • Formed out of sectionalism & slavery issues

  • JC Fremont the first prez candidate (lost to Buchanan)

  • 1860 platform pledged free-soil

  • Lincoln’s win led to secession & Civil War

  • 1864 ticket (then National Union Party) broadened to include Southern Dem. Johnson

  • Civil War weakened Dem party & led to 70 years of nearly unbroken Repub. Dominance

  • During Reconstruction – a divide

    • Radical Republicans

    • Liberal Republican Party

      • Split and scandals cost Repubs Congress in 1874

  • 1876 Hayes victory & Comp. of 1877

  • Gilded Age dominated by Repubs., but presidents were weak

  • Repubs take White House in 1896 with McKinley

    • Supported by industrial northeast & business community

    • Committed to conservative economics

    • Tended to be in favor of imperialist activity

  • T. Roosevelt steered party toward progressive reform

  • T.R. vs. Taft split allowed Wilson to win in 1912 (T.R. ran as Progressive Party candidate)

  • Republicans won control of Congress in 1918 & prevented U.S. from joining League of Nations or signing Treaty of Versailles

  • Republicans dominated the 1920’s – pro-business era

  • Hoover failure to end Great Depression led to FDR victory

  • Won back White House with Eisenhower

    • Won re-election after moderate foreign policy, ending Korean War, & personal popularity (“I Like Ike”)

  • Repubs bitterly divided after Nixon loss in 1960

    • Ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) ran against LBJ in 1964 (lost)

    • Party organization in shambles, but bounces back to take advantage of chaos brought on by Vietnam

    • Nixon wins 1968 election against Humphrey

  • Nixon re-elected in 1972, beating anti-war Dem. George McGovern

    • But Dems controlled Congress

    • Watergate destroyed Nixon, and Republican, credibility

    • Gerald Ford follows Nixon after resignation but is not elected in own right

  • Carter disasters allow Reagan to win by wide margin in 1980

    • Strong anti-Soviet policies (Peace through Strength)

    • Conservative social and economic policy (except heavy military spending)

    • Solid foreign policy victories incl. fall of Soviet Union (under Bush)

  • Bush failure to capitalize on Gulf War victory and overcome economic woes opens door for Bill Clinton

  • Candidacy of Ross Perot (Reform) split Repub. vote

    • Repubs gain control of Congress in 1994 – giving stiff resistance to Clinton-backed legislation

  • George W. Bush wins contested election in 2000

    • In part because of anti-Clinton mood surrounding Dem. candidate Gore

    • Slow start wiped out by sudden impact of September 11 attack in 2001

    • Bitterly divided Congress (along party lines) throughout Clinton & Bush years

Populist Party

  • Formed by farmers who felt major parties were controlled by industrialists

  • National convention in 1892

    • Platform:

      • Free coinage of silver

      • Graduated income tax

      • Government ownership of utilities

      • Secret ballots & direct election of Senators

    • Also endorsed pro-labor planks to win labor vote

  • Strongest in West – won significant elections in 1894

  • Threw support behind William Jennings Bryan in 1896 but lost to McKinley

  • Populist party disappeared but goals emerged later with Progressive Party

Progressive Party

  • The name of 3 separate political organizations over time

  • Party founded in 1912 by pro-Roosevelt Republicans who wanted to oust Taft

  • Also known as Bull Moose Party

  • Called for social and political reforms

    • Including conservation, women’s suffrage, popular election of Senators

  • Progressives supported Charles E. Hughes (R) in 1916 losing bid

  • Party re-emerges in 1924 with candidacy of Robert LaFollette

    • Defeated by Coolidge (R)

  • A 3rd Progressive party emerged in the 1940’s – left-wing opponents to Truman

    • Party was identified with communism & never accomplished anything significant


  • Southern Democrats who broke away from the Dems in 1948

  • Anti-civil rights

  • Strom Thurmond (S.C.) their presidential candidate

Reform Party

  • Founded by H. Ross Perot

  • Ran (as independent) in 1992 – spoiler cost Bush the White House

  • Advocated balanced budget, campaign reform, term limits, tax reform, immigration restrictions, limits on perks for office-holders, promotion of U.S. jobs and balanced trade agreements

  • Party has since split into factions

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