Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

PARTY PEOPLE THE NEWLY FORMED UNITED STATES THOUGHT POLITICAL PARTIES WOULD NEVER WORK -- BUT THEY'RE STILL AROUND, BATTERED BUT UNBOWED Series: ELECT TO CONNECT POLITICAL PARTIES

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

PARTY PEOPLE THE NEWLY FORMED UNITED STATES THOUGHT POLITICAL PARTIES WOULD NEVER WORK -- BUT THEY'RE STILL AROUND, BATTERED BUT UNBOWED Series: ELECT TO CONNECT POLITICAL PARTIES

Article excerpt

ALMOST FROM the start, the United States has had a two-party system - yet the political opponents haven't always been the Republicans and the Democrats.

As every school child knows, George Washington - the victorious commander of the Continental Army - was elected the first president of our new nation without opposition in 1788 and 1792. He and many other of the country's early leaders believed in nonpartisanship and worried that parties would spur too much divisiveness.

During Washington's tenure, informal factions developed among politicians with common views - not organized parties as they are today. They were in both the executive branch and in Congress. One faction, known as the Federalists and including Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, favored a strong central government, as did Washington. The other group, sometimes called the Democratic-Republicans and with Thomas Jefferson in the forefront, wanted to protect the prerogatives of the states. The first big voting clash between the groups was in 1796, when the Electoral College chose Federalist John Adams as president over Jefferson. Most electors at that time were chosen not by popular vote but by their state legislatures. Jefferson's election in 1800 ushered in 24 years of Democrati c-Republican leadership, a period in which Federalist support gradually died out. By 1816, the Democratic-Republicans were the only national party. Eventually, however, internal divisions in the Democratic-Republicans began to show up, especially in the 1820s. One group, the National Republicans, wanted tariffs against imported goods as a way of helping domestic companies. The other group, the Democrats, were mostly in rural areas and objected because of the higher costs for goods. Andrew Jackson's election in 1828 under the banner of the new Democratic Party, the forerunner of today's Democrats, was a key to developing succinct party alignments. His populist activism, for projects such as decentralizing the national bank, spurred more moderate opponents to organize as the Whig party. (Whig is a Scottish Gaelic term connoting nonconformity.) By this time, almost all the states were choosing their presidential electors by popular vote. Party organizations also were becoming more formal, and the practice of picking a presidential nominee at a national party convention began in the 1830s. By the 1850s, the Whigs became sharply split over slavery and, by 1856, were more or less supplanted by a new party called the Republicans. In 1860, on the eve of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president as the Democrats split into Northern and Southern factions. Two-Party System After the Civil War, the country settled into the Democrats-vs.-Republicans pattern that's still in place. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.