Development of Major Political Parties in America

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The first two major polititcal parties were the Jeffersonian and the Federalists. The

Jeffersonians believed in a decentralized government and foreign policy that supported France

rather than England. The Federalists were in existance only a short time because of

disagreement of the leaders, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton.

The United States was a one party nation from 1800 to 1820. In 1828 the Jeffersonain

(Democratic Republican) Party split into the Democrats and the Whigs. The Democrats

wanted the states to have more power and the Whigs wanted stronger federal government.

When Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1828, his attempts to decentralize the

government were opposed by the Whigs. That party later deteriorated when the conflict over

slavery began.

The Republican Party started in 1854. This party was former Whigs who were opposed

to slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, was elected in 1860. This party was

dominant until 1932.

It has a platform based on probusiness policies, a belief in volunteerism and the ability of the American people to take care of their own problems without government intervention. The Democratic Party came back into control during the Great Depression when the Republican Policy was ineffective in relieving the economic problems. The Democrats dominated for the most part through the 1960s. However, the Republicans have won five of the last seven presidental elections. The current President is a Democrat but it is not clear if the Democratic Party will be able to continue to dominate. There have been 900 other 'third' parties throughout history but the Republican and Democratic Parties have remained the leaders of the two party systems since 1854.

Realignment of the parties have occurred about every 30 years. The first four were in 1828, 1860, 1896 and 1932 due to democratization of parties, slavery and the...