Segment descriptions
Topics in American History Series
Political Parties, Part 1        

              Description: Political Parties 2

Political Parties, Part 1
sampler  6’-21”   (55’ lecture)

Why can’t the new Republican Party of 1854 be
called the anti-slavery party?        
play sampler



In the Beginning

1 The Constitution.  Creates the division, separation of powers of government.  There are no political parties at the first presidential election. 
2 The first political party.  Thomas Jefferson opposes the economic policies of Alexander Hamilton's Federalist party which advocates a strong central government and presidential power in the 1790s.  Jefferson and Madison form the Anti-Federalist Party. 



 Jefferson's party is the Democratic Republicans, wins the 1800 election after which the Federalist Party declines and dies, leaving one party. 




The 19th Century


The second American party system of the 1820s. Andrew Jackson thwarts the election of Quincy Adams.  The Democratic Republicans become the Democrats and are opposed by the Whigs.  Both are national parties reflecting the growing sectionalism between the anti-slavery North and the pro-slavery South.  Confrontation is avoided in the1830s and 1840s.


The Republican Party.  The Mexican War leads to great American expansion in the 1850s under President Polk.  The Whigs decline and the Republican Party emerges in 1854.  It starts as a Northern anti-slavery party supported by Northern capitalists who want Southern cotton now going to English mills, and high tariffs.  Other elements include the homestead farmers to the West who oppose slavery expansion for racist motives, wanting to keep the West white, the Unionists headed by Abraham Lincoln, the Nativists who are against foreigners, and the Abolitionists, the only ones with a moral issue.  Lincoln is elected in 1860 and the South secedes. 


The Civil War.  Lincoln is reelected 1864, the war ends April 1865, and Lincoln is assassinated.  Reconstruction and the moral concern for the ex-slave.  The 18th Amendment gives black males the vote.  The Republicans dominate and remain in power mostly until the Depression 1930s.




The 20th Century


The Progressive Era from 1900 to 1912 is a reform period, but results are less than the rhetoric. 
Progressive Era ends.
President Taft's reelection is challenged by Theodore Roosevelt who forms the "Bull Moose" Progressive Party, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson wins a split vote.  The U.S. enters the war, ending the Progressive Era.  Eugene Debbs of the Socialist Party is jailed for speaking out against U.S. entry into World War One. The war ends.  American disillusionment with the war, Wilson's rigid positions and the Senate's refusal to sign the Treaty of Versailles. 


Republican Warren Harding is elected president. Both parties are similarly conservative.  The KKK becomes nationally strong in the 1920s.  Calvin Coolidge becomes president when Harding dies, runs in 1928 and is elected.


A strong Republican tide elects Herbert Hoover president against Catholic Al Smith in 1928. City voters shifting to Democratic Party.  Hoover is ineffective in Depression.


The Democrats elect Franklin Roosevelt in a landslide in 1932 after the Great Depression begins.  Another landslide victory for FDR in 1936. Republicans remain pro-business, anti-labor.