American Political Party System Lucy Dale

The party systems are how we refer to eras of politics. These eras are defined by divided parties with drastically different goals. some succeed and some do not but all were, and continue to be SIGNIFICANT to the american story.

1st party system

1796-1816

War of 1812, Era Of Good Feelings

Federalists VS Democratic Republicans

Origins

When George Washington retired in 1797, he took with him the unifying presence that had kept the citizens together. Politics quickly split citizens into two opposing camps with different ideological ideals and leaders.

Leaders
Demographics
Principles
Account - what went down

The Federalists enjoyed popularity throughout the late 1700’s, however this changed when the Democratic Republican figurehead Thomas Jefferson was elected president in 1801. The Federalists could still be considered contenders against the Democratic Republicans until the War of 1812. The Federalists were strongly opposed to the war and as the US continued to succeed in said war, favor for the Federalists party declined to nonexistence.

Legacy

2nd party system

1804-1856

Mexican American War, Indian Removal, Pre civil war slavery conflict

Whigs VS Democrats

Origins

These two parties emerged from the end of the era of good feelings, when the presiding Democratic Republican party split in two. The “National Republican” party branched off from the Democratic Republican party and picked up many federalist values. This National Republican party came to be known as Whigs while the Democratic Republican party simplified their name to just Democrats.

Leaders
Demographic
Principles
Account - what went down

The democrats dominated the political scenes and the majority of the issues that they wanted to have addressed were, leaving the more cautious Whigs in the dust. Both parties were divided on the issues of slavery pertinent during the 1850’s (compromise and Dread Scott decision), but the whigs suffered most from this lack of unity.

Legacy

3rd party system

1860-1896

Civil War, Jim Crow Laws, Reconstruction Era

DEmocrats vs republicans

Origins

The Democratic party carried over from the 2nd party system, however it was greatly weakened by its division over slavery leading up to the civil war. The Republican anti-slavery party emerged from the hole left by the whigs, siphoning off many of their anti-slavery defectors.

leaders
demographic
Principles
account - what went down

The Democratic party was divided on the issue of slavery, the north was against it and the south was for it so the party split in two and during the 1860 election they ran two candidates. The two candidates were John C. Breckinridge in the south and Stephen Douglas in the north, both running against Lincoln who was the Republican candidate. Since the Democratic votes were split in half and the Republican votes were united, Lincoln won. This Republican presidency contributed to a civil war between Lincoln's Union northern army and Jefferson Davis’ Confederate southern army (of southern Democrats). The war was a northern victory, which isolated southern Democratic policy to just the south and limited their power, allowing for a Republican Reconstruction Era while Jim Crow racism raged in the south.

legacy

4th party system

1896-1932

Gilded Age, Prohibition, WWI

origins

During this period, the parties in essence “switched”. Republicans who had been traditionally very forward thinking and ‘liberal’ in their approach to politics in the north reveled in their post civil war power and turned to big business, leaving behind their agricultural and rural voters. The Republicans, seeing an opportunity to heal their tarnished reputation took up the torch for agriculture and gained huge support from that demographic, while still being a fairly taboo party in the north.

leaders
demographic
principles
account - what went down

Republicans continued to dominate politics during the 4th party era and the only Democratic president in this party was Woodrow Wilson, who won in 1912 arguably due to the fact that the Republicans ran two candidates (Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft) which split their votes in half.

legacy

5th party system

1932-1960

The Great Depression, The New Deal, Civil Rights Movement, WWII

origins

Their was a dramatic shift in popularity from majorly republican to majorly democratic. This movement was due to Republican’s stereotype as the ‘business party’ during the great depression, when business and banks had low approval, and Republican Herbert Hoover’s lack of action. This paved the way for a Democratic domination starting with FDR and his new deal for recovering after the Great Depression.

leaders
demographics
principles
account - what went down

The Democratic party quickly became more popular as the 'party of the people' under Roosevelt's new deal plan. FDR was followed up by fellow Democrat Harry Truman who ‘ended WW2’ with his decision to drop atomic bombs in Japan. After which during the election of 1952 there was a dramatic shift in popularity to Republican power with the election of Eisenhower. This did not last long either and we were back to Democratic in the next two elections with John F Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, switching back to Republican again in the next election (1968) to Nixon.

The debate

Its clear to see that during the 5th party system, power was traded fairly evenly between parties. Some argue that the 5th party system did not end in the 1960's but actually continues into today with a continued trend in party switching without a clear party system victor. An example being how Democratic president Barack Obama's election was followed up by Republican president Donald Trump. However others argue that their has been yet another party system emergence, the 6th party.

Credits:

Created with images by Ronile - "statue of liberty new york ny"

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