Development of Major Political Parties in AmericaThe first two major polititcal parties were the Jeffersonian and the Federalists.
The Jeffersonians believed in a decentralized government and foreign policythat supported France rather than England. The Federalists were in existanceonly a short time because of disagreement of the leaders, John Adams andAlexander Hamilton.The United States was a one party nation from 1800 to 1820. In 1828 theJeffersonain (Democratic Republican) Party split into the Democrats and theWhigs. The Democrats wanted the states to have more power and the Whigs wantedstronger federal government. When Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1828,his attempts to decentralize the government were opposed by the Whigs. Thatparty later deteriorated when the conflict over slavery began.
The Republican Party started in 1854. This party was former Whigs who wereopposed to slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, waselected in 1860.
This party was dominant until 1932. It has a platform basedon probusiness policies, a belief in volunteerism and the ability of theAmerican people to take care of their own problems without governmentintervention. The Democratic Party came back into control during the GreatDepression when the Republican Policy was ineffective in relieving the economicproblems. The Democrats dominated for the most part through the 1960s. However,the Republicans have won five of the last seven presidental elections. Thecurrent President is a Democrat but it is not clear if the Democratic Party willbe able to continue to dominate.
There have been 900 other “third” partiesthroughout history but the Republican and Democratic Parties have remained theleaders of the two party systems since 1854.Realignment of the parties have occurred about every 30 years. The first fourwere in 1828, 1860, 1896 and 1932 due to democratization of parties, slavery andthe Great Depression.
The Vietnam War and urban unrest caused what may havebeen the most recent realignment of the parties but the Republicans have notbeen altogether successful in this attempt, partly due to the Watergate scandal.We may be in the midst of another realignment at this time but it will take sometime to tell if it is realignment or dealignment.History