Podcast # 4: The rise and Evolution of Political Parties

Political Parties first began to emerge during the creation of the Constitution. Supporters of a strong Central Government became known as Federalists and those that preferred the individual states to have the majority of the power were known as Democratic Republicans. During George Washington’s Presidency, political parties really began to take shape – Cabinet Adams (Federalist) Thomas Jefferson (Democratic Republican)

Washington warned of Political Parties in his farewell address. He felt they weakened the government and caused division (1796)

By 1812 the Federalists were dissolved

The Democratic Republicans dominated politics. Many of the Presidents hailed from Virginia (This Virginia Dynasty would eventually end after the election of John Quincy Adams in 1824.

The election of 1824 & the corrupt bargain which made John Q. Adams President over Andrew Jackson led to the creation of the Democratic Party.

Jacksonian Democracy- Supporter of the Common Man – property qualifications for voting taken away

Sectional Conflicts and opponents of Andrew Jackson led to the creation of the Whig party. They would elect 2 Presidents (William Henry Harrison & Zachary Taylor) Supporters (business owners, wealthy white southerners, urban middle class). The issue of slavery eventually weakened the Whig party and many of its supporters joined the newly created Republican party in the 1850s.

In the 1850s, the issue of slavery divided the nation. Northern Democrats – former Whigs and abolitionists created the Republican Party in 1854

Why was the Republican party formed in the 1850s?

Compromise of 1820 – 22 states in the union 11 free 11 slave

Missouri wanted to join a free state – unbalanced the senate was the LAST place that southern states had an equal say as the northern states. Main joined as free state 24 states Missouri joined as a slave state. 36 30 parallel was set up the prevent further disputes

Compromise 1850 new territories acquired from the Mexican-American War – get rid of the 36 30 parallel and was replaced with Popular Sovereignty (Kansas-Nebraska Act 1854)

The Republican Party wanted to prevent the spread of slavery into the territories.

Their 2nd Candidate – Abraham Lincoln wins the election of 1860. In order to preserve the Union, Lincoln and the Radical Republicans passed the

13th Amendment (Abolished slavery)

14th Amendment (Granted Citizenship)

15th Amendment (Right to vote can’t be denied on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude)

Republicans dominated politics until 1932.

Post-Civil War Democrats opposed Republican measures and solidified the South “solid south”. Supported Jim Crow laws to limit the newly freed black citizens. By 1896 we see another Political shift. Era of Big Business and Colonial Expansion. There are a series of Economic depressions or panics. Smaller parties like the Populists begin to join the Democrats. Start to support the working class, social justice progressive era issues such as temperance (18th amendment), agrarian issues and bigger government. The republicans at this time are still dominating politics and are aligned with Big Business, industry and urban issues.

The Great Depression and the election of FDR bring an end to the dominance of the Republican Party. New Deal policies shifted the support base of the political parties. By the 1960s yet another shift due to Civil Rights Reforms. Many white southerners joined the Republican Party.

Political Parties today:

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