Political Parties

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Political Parties
First Two-Party System

Federalists v. Democratic-Republicans, 1780s – 1801


1. Favored strong central government.

2. "Loose" interpretation of the Constitution.

3. Encouragement of commerce and manufacturing.

4. Strongest in Northeast.

5. Favored close ties with Britain.

6. Emphasized order and stability.

1. Emphasized states' rights.

2. "Strict" interpretation of the Constitution.

3. Preference for agriculture and rural life.

4. Strength in South and West.

5. Foreign policy sympathized with France.

6. Stressed civil liberties and trust in the people
Second Two-Party System

Democrats v. Whigs, 1836 - 1850


1. The party of tradition.

2. Looked backward tthe past.

3. Spoke tthe fears of Americans

4. Opposed banks and corporations as state-legislated economic privilege.

5. Opposed state-legislated reforms and preferred individual freedom of choice.

6. Were Jeffersonian agrarians whfavored farms and rural independence and the right t own slaves.

7. Favored rapid territorial expansion by purchase or war.

8. Believed in progress through external growth.

9. Democratic ideology of agrarianism, slavery, states rights, territorial expansion was favored in the South.


1. The party of modernization & looked forward tthe future.

2. Spoke tthe hopes of Americans.

3. Wanted tuse federal and state government tpromote economic growth, especially transportation and banks.

4. Advocated reforms such as temperance and public schools and prison reform.

5. Were entrepreneurs whfavored industry and urban growth and free labor.

6. Favored gradual territorial expansion over time and opposed the Mexican War.

7. Believed in progress through internal growth

8. Whig ideology of urbanization, industrialization, federal rights, & commercial expansion was favored in the North.
Mid-19th Century Political Crisis

Disputes over slavery in the territories first erode, then destroy what had become America's 2nd two-party system. The erosion began in the 1840s as various factions opposed tthe post-Jackson Democratic political coalition begin tform.

Liberty Party

1. Ran abolitionist candidate James Birney, for president in 1844.

2. Won only 2% of the vote but drew votes from the Whigs, especially in New York.
Free Soil Party

1. Not abolitionist but opposed texpansion of slavery

2. Won 10% of the popular vote with Martin Van Buren as their candidate in 1848.

3. Lost 50% of their support in 1852 when their candidate repudiated the Compromise of 1850


Split over slavery into:

1. Southern, "Cotton" Whigs wheventually drifted intthe Democratic Party.

2. Northern, "Conscience" Whigs whmoved tnew parties, i.e. Free Soil &, later, int Republican Party.

American Party

1. Popularly known as the "Know Nothing" Party.

2. Nativist party based on opposition timmigration and on temperance.

3. Ran Fillmore in 1856 and won 21% of the popular vote.

4. Absorbed intthe Republican Party after 1856.
Republican Party

1. Formed in 1854 when a coalition of Independent Democrats, Free Soilers, and Conscience Whigs united in opposition tthe Kansas-Nebraska Bill.

2. Stressed free labor and opposed the extension of slavery in the territories ("Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men!").

3. Moderates, like Abraham Lincoln, could, therefore, oppose slavery on "moral" grounds as wrong, while admitting that slavery had a "right" texist where the Constitution originally allowed it texist.

4. John C. Fremont was the first Republican presidential candidate in the election of 1856.
The Election of 1860


1. Split at its 1860 Convention in Charleston, South Carolina when a platform defending slavery was defeated and Deep South delegates walked out.

2. At a splinter convention held at Baltimore, Maryland, Stephen Douglas of Illinois was nominated as presidential candidate on a platform opposing any Congressional interference with slavery.

3. Southern delegates met and nominated John Breckenridgeof Kentucky as a candidate on a pro-slavery platform.

1. The Republicans, by this time a overtly sectional and decidedly opposed tslavery draw in most northerners with a platform favoring a homestead act, a protective tariff, and transportation improvements.

2. The platform opposed the extension of slavery but defended the right of states tcontrol their own "domestic institutions."

3. Abraham Lincoln is nominated presidential candidate on the third ballot.

Politics of the Gilded Age

Republicans & Democrats

1. Party differences blur during this period with loyalties determined by region, religious, and ethnic differences.

2. Voter turnout for presidential elections averaged over 78 percent of eligible voters; 60 t 80 percent in non-presidential years.

3. Both parties were pro-business.

4. Both parties were opposed tany type of economic radicalism or reform.

5. Both parties advocated a "sound currency" and supported the status quin the existing financial system.

6. Federal government and, tsome extent, state governments tended tdvery little.

7. Republicans dominate the Senate; Democrats dominate the House of Representatives.

8. Republican Party splinter groups during this period: Stalwarts, Halfbreeds, Mugwumps.

Populist Party

1. Formed in 1891 by remnants of the Farmers' Alliances.

2. Big government party with a healthy list of demands that included:

free coinage of silver,

government ownership of the railroads, telegraphs, and telephone lines,

graduated income tax,

direct election of U.S. senators,

the use of initiative, referendum, and recall

3. The party eventually fades because farmers' situation improved in the late 1890s and because their political agenda was assumed by the major parties.
Progressive Era Politics

1. Spanned the period 1900-1920 and the presidencies of three "Progressive" Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt (Republican), William Howard Taft (Republican), and Woodrow Wilson (Democrat).

2. Believed that the laissez-faire system was obsolete, yet supported capitalism.

3. Believed in the idea of progress and that reformed institutions would replace corrupt power.

4. Applied the principles of science and efficiency tall economic, social, and political instituting.

5. Viewed government as a key player in creating an orderly, stable, and improved society.

6. Believed that government had the power tcombat special interests and work for the goodv of the community, state, or nation.

7. Political parties were singled out as corrupt, undemocratic, outmoded, and inefficient.

8. Power of corrupt government could be diminished by increasing the power of the people and by putting more power in the hands of non-elective, nonpartisan, professional officials.

9. The progressives eventually co-opt many of the Populist demands such as referendum, initiative, direct election of Senators, etc. Some of these are incorporated in the "Progressive" Amendments the U.S. Constitution: 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th Amendments.

The Republican Era

1. From 1921 t1933 both the presidency & congress were dominated by Republicans (Harding, Coolidge, & Hoover).

2. The position of the government was decidedly pro-business.

3. Though conservative, the government experimented with new approaches tpublic policy and was an active agent of economic change trespond tan American culture increasingly urban, industrial, and consumer-oriented.

4. Conflicts surfaced regarding immigration restriction, Prohibition, and race relations.

5. Generally, this period was a transitional one in which consumption and leisure were replacing older "traditional" American values of self-denial and the work ethic.

The Political Legacy of the New Deal

1. Created a Democratic party coalition that would dominate American politics for many years (1933-1052).

2. Included ethnic groups, city dwellers, organized labor, blacks, as well as a broad section of the middle class.

3. Awakened voter interest in economic matters and increased expectations and acceptance of government involvement in American life.

4. The New Deal coalition made the federal government a protector of interest groups and a mediator of the competition among them.

5. "Activists" role for government in regulating American business tprotect it from the excesses and problems of the past.

6. Fair Deal of the post-war Truman administration continued the trend in governmental involvement: i.e. advocated expanding Social Security benefits, increasing the minimum wage, a full employment program, slum clearance, public housing, and government sponsorship of scientific research.

7. In 1948, the "liberal" or Democratic coalition split into two branches:

States' Rights

1. Southern conservative Democrats known as "Dixiecrats."

2. Opposed the civil rights plank in the Democratic platform.

3. Nominated South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond for President.

Progressive Party

1. "Liberal" Democrats whfavored gradual socialism, the abolition of racial segregation, and a conciliatory attitude toward Russia.

2. Nominated Henry A. Wallace for president.
Post-WW2 Politics


1. The Democrats maintain what by this time had become their "traditional" power base of organized labor, urban voters, and immigrants.

2. In the 1952 election, the Democrats run Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, a candidate favored by "liberals" and intellectuals.

3. As the post-World War 2 period progresses, the Democratic Party takes "big government" positions advocating larger roles for the federal government in regulating business and by the 1960s advocate extensive governmental involvement in social issues like education, urban renewal, and other social issues.

4. The Democratic Party very early associates itself with the growing civil rights movements and will champion the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.


1. In 1952, the pro-business Republican Party ran General Dwight D. Eisenhower for president.

2. The Republicans accuse the Democrats of being "soft" on communism.

3. Republicans promise tend the Korean War.

4. Conservative Southern Democrats, the "Dixiecrats," increasingly associate themselves with Republican candidates whoppose civil rights legislation.
Nixon's New Federalism


1. The Democratic Party by the late 1960s is deeply fragmented and seemingly incapable of dealing with the violence and turmoil, social and political, caused by the Vietnam War.

2. In 1968, the Democratic Party candidate is Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

3. In the post-Vietnam War period, Democrats advocate a range of "liberal" social issues including the extension of civil rights, support for "reproductive rights" (i.e. birth control and abortion rights), fair housing legislation, etc.

1. Opposition tthe War in Vietnam and tgrowing federal social programs "converts" southern Democrats to vote Republican in increasing numbers.

2. Republicans run former Vice President Richard Nixon for president in 1968. He runs on a small-government, anti-war campaign as a defender of the "silent majority."

3. Nixon advocated a policy of cutting back Federal power and returning that power tthe states. This was known as the "New Federalism."

Reagan and the "New Right"


1. Strongly support environmental legislation, limiting economic development, halting the production of nuclear weapons and power plants.

2. Pro-choice movement emerged during the 1980s tdefend a woman's right tchoose whether and when tbear a child.

3. Affirmative Action, the use of racial quotas t"balance" the workforce, tone degree or another, becomes an issue of political disagreement with Democrats favoring it and Republicans opposing it.

1. Fueled by the increasingly "liberal" social agenda of the Democrats and spurred on by the rise of a militant and extremely well-organized Evangelical Christianity, most southern states begin voting Republican in considerable majorities.

2. Conservative Christians, Southern whites, affluent ethnic suburbanites, and young conservatives form a "New Right" that supported Ronald Reagan in 1980 on a "law and order" platform that advocated stricter laws against crime, drugs, and pornography, opposition teasy-access abortions, and an increase in defense spending, a cut in tax rates.

3. While Reagan curbed the expansion of the Federal Gov’t, he did not reduce its size or the scope of its powers.

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