The Comparative Approach to American History

By C. Vann Woodward | Go to book overview

15
Political Parties

RICHARD HOFSTADTER

In a certain sense American political parties were the first modern parties. They had, of course, their predecessors in the British Whigs and Tories of the eighteenth century. But if we define political parties not simply as aggregates of men who share certain interests or points of view, nor simply as coalitions of notables, but rather as broadly based social structures that mediate between public opinion and the processes of parliamentary decision-making in a fairly regular manner, the United States was the pioneer nation in the development of the modern political party. The phrase "His Majesty's Opposition," when first used in the House of Commons by Sir John Cam Hobhouse in 1826, was employed in a spirit of levity and greeted with laughter. At that point Americans had had more than a quarter century of fitful experiment with partisan opposition, and their two-party politics was even then in the process of being resuscitated after the lapse of a decade. In Britain the modern procedure for a change of ministry dates from 1830. The American precedent for the peaceful transition of power from a government party to an opposition party dates from the election of 1800-1801. If we take mass participation as our primary criterion of the modern political party, the priority of the United States in party development is still more impressive. Under the broad suffrage of the early American states, popular participation in

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The Comparative Approach to American History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • The Contributors vii
  • Introduction to the New Edition xi
  • 1 - The Comparability of American History 3
  • 2 - The Colonial Phase 18
  • 3 - The Enlightenment 34
  • 4 - The Revolution 47
  • 5 - The "Newness" of the New Nation 62
  • 6 - Frontiers 75
  • 7 - Immigration 91
  • 8 - Mobility 106
  • 9 - Slavery 121
  • 10 - Civil War 135
  • 11 - Reconstruction: Ultraconservative Revolution 146
  • 12 - The Negro since Freedom 160
  • 13 - Industrialization 175
  • 14 - Urbanization 187
  • 15 - Political Parties 206
  • 16 - The Coming of Big Business 220
  • 17 - Socialism and Labor 238
  • 18 - Imperialism 253
  • 19 - Social Democracy, 1900-1918 271
  • 20 - World War I 285
  • 21 - The Great Depression 296
  • 22 - World War II 315
  • 23 - The Cold War 328
  • 24 - The Test of Comparison 346
  • Index 359
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