Two party system (theme #5)

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George Washington

- first President, won Elections of 1789 and 1792 with no party affiliation

- in his Farewell Address to Congress when leaving office he warns the nation to avoid

political parties

- political parties formed during his Presidency as view points of his major advisors (Alexander

Hamilton – Sec. of Treasury and Thomas Jefferson – Sec. of State) conflicted dramatically

Federalist Party – based on the ideas of Hamilton

Republican (Democratic-Republican) Party – based on the ideas of Jefferson


- led by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams

- favors Hamilton’s economic plan

(solves national debt problem)

- favored a strong national govt.

- favors manufacturing, improved technology,

and capitol as keys to U.S. strength

- favors loose interpretation of Constitution

(eg. favors creation of a national bank)

- favors Great Britain in European wars in

order to protect trade
- most supporters in northeast

- supports tariffs as protection of U.S.


- led by Thomas Jefferson

- opposed to Hamilton’s economic plan (only

helps the rich in east, doesn’t help the south

that has paid off its debts, hurts western

farmers with excise tax on whiskey)

- favors protections of states’ rights

- favors agriculture and land as keys to prosperity
- favors strict interpretation of the Constitution

(against the national bank)

- favors French Republic, as it is based originally

on same democratic ideals our nation was

created on, and they helped us in our rev.

- most supporters in south and west

- opposes tariffs, which causes prices for goods

purchased in the south and west to go

Election of 1796

- first to be contested by members of opposing parties

- John Adams (Federalist) defeated Thomas Jefferson (Dem.-Rep.)
Election of 1800 - won by Jefferson

- first of 7 consecutive elections won by the Democratic-Republicans

Era of Good Feelings (1817 – 1824)

- during the two Presidencies of James Monroe when Democratic-Republican Party faced no

opposition party

- Federalist Party which did not support the War of 1812 lost its support as the war was fought

and was a success

Election of 1824

- 5 Democratic-Republican candidates

- Andrew Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes, but did not have the majority

needed to become President

- election then went to the House of Representatives where John Quincy Adams won when

Henry Clay gave him his support in return for the office of Sec. of State (an office seen

as a jumping off spot for the Presidency)

- this deal became known as the “Corrupt Bargain”

Rise of Andrew Jackson

- Jackson’s followers were so outraged by his loss in 1824 that they grew stronger

- Jackson’s backwoods, common man persona drew more voters to him as well as his

popularity due to his victory at the end of the War of 1812 in the Battle of New Orleans

- lingering discontent with government over the Panic of 1819, the “Corrupt Bargain,” J.Q.

Adams’ ineffectual presidency led to the formation of a second party – the Democratic

Party with Jackson as its candidate
Election of 1828

- marks reemergence of a 2 party system

- J.Q. Adams’ followers became known as the National Republican Party

- Jackson with his widespread support won easily

National Republicans disappear after disappointing results in 1828 and 1832
Emergence of the Whig Party

- a new second party is created with the unification of factions who opposed Jackson, became

a national force by 1836

- name Whig refers back to a 1776 name given to patriots who opposed King George III,

thus likening Jackson’s behavior to a king – “King Andrew I”

- Whig supporters:

- supporters of federally funded internal improvement projects

- southerners who favored nullification, and opposed Jackson

- Bank of U.S./soft money advocates

- social reformers in the north

- nativists who came to support the public education reforms which they assumed

would teach Protestant doctrines

- anti-Masons – fraternal organization seen as a conspiracy of the rich to suppress

popular liberty

- southern merchants, planters

- northern merchants, bankers, evangelical clergymen

Election of 1840

- Whig candidate William Henry Harrison won

- Whig platform was to have a tariff that was not “protective” but low enough to bring goods in

from Europe, and use the revenue created to fund internal improvements in the south

and west (northeasterners still supported the tariff though it was lower than previous

protective tariffs)

- had appeal as a “common man” a la Jackson with his log cabin upbringing and his victory in

the Battle of Tippecanoe over Native Americans in Indiana Territory

– “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too”

- Harrison died only one month later and Vice-President John Tyler took over

- Tyler vetoed the Whig tariff and angered members of his own party
Election of 1844

- Democrat James Polk (relative unknown) won defeating Henry Clay (Whig)

- Whigs struggled after wake of Tyler’s turbulent Presidency

- Polk able to bring northerners to accept the annexation of Texas

Election of 1848

- Whig Zachary Taylor rode his popularity from Mexican War to Presidency

Demise of the Whig Party

- Democrat Franklin Pierce won Election of 1852 despite Whig’s running a Mexican War hero,

Winfield Scott, as their candidate (lost 50% to 44%)

- Pierce last President to win the popular and electoral vote in both the North and the South for

80 years (not again until Franklin Roosevelt did so in 1932)

- 2 party system had until Election of 1856 kept sectional tensions in line by giving Americans

other issues to argue about (internal improvements, banking, tariffs, temperance, etc)

- by 1850s the debate over slavery became so strong that other issues were subordinated

- the Kansas-Nebraska Act (passed by the Democrats) with its popular sovereignty for allowing

slavery in these territories caused aroused sectional tensions which destroyed the Whig

Party (which had a large number of free soil supporters) and depleted Democratic

support in the north

New Third Parties Emerge

- Free Soil Party (1848, 1852) – no slavery in territories platform

- American (Know-Nothing) Party (1856) – anti-immigration platform
Rise of Republican Party

- Republican Party formed on issue of anti-slavery

- purely northern party

- had members who were former northern Whigs and Democrats

- after demise of the Whigs and the weakening of support for Democrats in the north over

slavery issue, Republicans won 2/3 of all state legislatures in the north by 1856 despite

the fact the party was only a year old

- with popular westerner John Fremont (who had blazed the Oregon Trail) as their candidate

the Republicans became the number 2 party in 1856
Election of 1860

- Democratic Party split between Northern and Southern factions

- Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won without winning any electoral votes in the south

- Lincoln’s election led to the succession of southern states as a purely northern candidate

could win enough electoral votes to win the Presidency, and this succession led to the

Civil War

Two Party System Solidifies

- Democrats and Republicans stay the dominant parties until the present

- they finish 1st and 2nd in every presidential election from1856 to the present with the

exception of 1912

Third Parties Since 1860

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