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Early Political Parties in America

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 3 (708 words)
Categories: History, War, War of 1812
Downloads: 21
Views: 1

The War of 1812 helped to usher in a new era of American politics. Although the war had gone poorly, and the British had even burned the capitol, the war did end in an eventual victory for America. The Federalists, who had already been declining in popularity, suffered further losses as a result of their opposition to the eventual successful war. James Monroe was elected as a Democratic-Republican, scoring a significant electoral defeat over the last Federalist candidate to ever run for president, Rufus King.

By the 1818 midterm elections, the presidency and 85% of the House seats, effectively spelling the end of the Federalists as a political party.

In the election of 1820, James Monroe ran unopposed by any major candidates, easily winning reelection. This might be part of the reason that this era is called “The Era of Good Feelings” as there was only 1 major political party in operation. However, just as the Federalist party had split into multiple parties following the presidency of George Washington, the Democratic-Republican party began to show a number of different factions.

This was the time where mass political parties were born, and where politicians began fully embracing the Democratic process by trying to steer and embrace a public opinion, which would come into play as a series of successful generals would be elected president within the next half-century.

In 1824, without any opposition party, 5 candidates ran as Democratic-Republicans. Since none received enough votes, the House of Representatives gave the presidency to John Quincy Adams in a confusing vote called the “Corrupt Bargain”. This had the effect of splintering the Democratic-Republican party into many other parties. In 1828, the supporters of 1812 war hero Andrew Jackson started calling themselves “Democrats”. Jackson won in a landslide, winning over 70% of the electoral votes. He was the first president elected from a Western state and one that was neither Massachusetts nor Virginia. His Vice President, Martin Van Buren, molded the new Democratic party into a modern party by saying it was the “party of the common people” and opposed the “elites”. He was reelected easily in 1832 primarily due to his opposition to the Second Charter Bank of America. The Whig party emerged in 1834 and put its first candidate against Democratic Vice President, Martin Van Buren, but Van Buren won easily However, the Whigs won their first election with the election of William Henry Harrison in 1840, although he died a month after being in office, installing John Tyler in office. By this point, the parties were moving in very different directions. In general, the Democrats were concentrated more in the South and were more pro-slavery. The Whigs were more in the North and were quite mixed on the issue of slavery. The election of 1844 demonstrated this, as Democrat Henry Polk wanted to annex the Republic of Texas as a new slave state, while Whig Henry Clay did not. However, Polk won a close election and soon annexed Texas. He soon ordered the invasion of Mexico in the Mexican-American war, which also netted California and parts of the Southwest.

In 1848, although Whig candidate Zachary won without talking about slavery, the Free Soil party ran a candidate, former president Martin Van Buren, for the first time. This was the direct predecessor to the Republican party. Even with the compromise of 1850, with several concessions between the South and the North about Slavery, it was only 10 years before the Civil War broke out. In 1852, Franklin Pierce won for the Democrats, who followed up by winning in 1856 as well. The Kansas-Nebraska Act, in which Southern dragged their feet on the admission of Nebraska, as a free state. This permanently divided the Southern and Northern Whigs and led to a nearly-perfect split of Republicans in the North and Democrats in the South (Ibid, pars. 3). In the election of 1860, the split was made permanent, when Abraham Lincoln won a 4-way election, with the North going solidly Republican and most of the South going solidly Democratic. Although the parties would realign about 100 years later during the Civil Rights Movement, the basics of each party, and of geographic stratification, were laid in the first half of the 19th century.

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Early Political Parties in America. (2020, Oct 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/early-political-parties-in-america-essay

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