The Pursuit of the White House: A Handbook of Presidential Election Statistics and History

By G. Scott Thomas | Go to book overview

1.
All Republicans, All Federalists: 1789-1816

There were no political parties for the United States' first Presidential election in 1789. There was only one party after 1816. But the period in between was marked by some of the most vitriolic partisan debate in the nation's history. The Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties charged each other with unpatriotic alliances with foreign powers, secret designs to subvert the Constitution, and diabolical schemes for punishing their opponents.

There was no mention of parties in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers thought that a good thing. George Washington contended a party system "agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection."1 Thomas Jefferson agreed. "if I could not go to heaven but with a party," he once said, "I would not go at all."2 Even after factions appeared, Jefferson often tried to downplay their differences. He said all Americans should pull together: "We are all [Democratic-] Republicans, we are all Federalists."3

These high-minded declarations could not mask the depth of party feeling that quickly developed. It was Washington who, when asked his preference for his Vice President, said any "true Federalist" would do. Jefferson himself formed the Democratic-Republican party, once saying of the Federalists, "I wish . . . to see these people disarmed either of the wish or the power to injure their country."4

The Federalists won the first three elections of the period. But with the passing of the revered Washington, they entered a serious decline. The Democratic-Republicans took all elections from 1800 on. Their 1816 thrashing of the Federalists was so thorough that the opposition party disappeared. Jefferson's desire that all Americans be of one faction briefly came to pass.

The period of 1789-1816 allowed a testing of the

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The Pursuit of the White House: A Handbook of Presidential Election Statistics and History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • How to Use This Book ix
  • Section 1. the Elections 1
  • 1. All Republicans, All Federalists: 1789-1816 3
  • 2. the Coming of Democracy: 1820-1852 15
  • 3. Waving the Bloody Shirt: 1856-1900 40
  • 4. the Road to Normalcy: 1904-1928 85
  • 5. Rendezvous with Destiny: 1932-1956 120
  • 6. Beyond the New Frontier: 1960-1984 155
  • Section 2. the Participants 191
  • 7. the Candidates 193
  • 8. the Parties 361
  • 9. the States 390
  • Notes 457
  • Selected Bibliography 475
  • Index 477
  • About the Author 487
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