History Of The United States Democratic Party
The history of the Democratic Party of the United States is an account of the Democratic Party, the oldest political party in the United States and the oldest grass-roots party in the world.
It dominated American politics during the Second Party System, from 1832 to the mid-1850s, with such leaders as presidents Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, and Senator Stephen Douglas, who usually bested the opposition Whig Party by narrow margins, as both parties worked hard to build grass-roots organizations and maximize the turnout of voters. Both parties used patronage extensively to finance their operations, which included emerging big city machines as well as national networks of newspapers. The party was a proponent for farmers across the country, urban workers, and new immigrants. It advocated westward expansion, Manifest Destiny, greater equality among all white men, and opposition to a national bank.
From 1860 to 1932, the Republican Party was dominant in presidential politics, as the Democrats elected only two presidents to four terms of office in 72 years, Grover Cleveland (in 1884 and 1892), and Woodrow Wilson (in 1912 and 1916); the only other Democratic president to serve during this time was Andrew Johnson, who as Vice President was elevated to the presidency after Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865, but was never elected as president. Over the same period, the Democrats proved more competitive with the Republicans in Congressional politics, enjoying House majorities (or at least control, in coalition with the Progressives, as in the 65th Congress) in 15 of the 36 Congresses elected, although only in five of these did they form the majority in the Senate.
The party was split between the Bourbon Democrats, representing Eastern business interests, and the agrarian elements comprising poor farmers in the South and West. The agrarian element, marching behind the slogan of "free silver" (i.e. inflation), captured the party in 1896, and nominated William Jennings Bryan in 1896, 1900, and 1908; he lost each time. Both Bryan and Wilson were leaders of the Progressive Movement, 1900–1920. Starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, the party dominated the Fifth Party System, with its liberal New Deal Coalition, losing the White House only to the very popular war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower (in 1952 and 1956).
With two brief interruptions, the Democrats controlled the House from 1930 until 1994, and the Senate for most of that period. Important leaders included Presidents Harry Truman (1945–1953), and Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–1969), as well as the Kennedy brothers—President John F. Kennedy (1961–63), Senator Robert Kennedy, and Senator Teddy Kennedy, who carried the flag for liberalism. Democrats won five out of the last ten presidential elections, winning in 1976 (Carter), 1992 and 1996 (Clinton), 2008 and 2012 (Obama).
Read more about History Of The United States Democratic Party: Origins, The Free Silver Movement, Bryan, Wilson, and The Progressive Era: 1896–1932, The New Deal and World War II: 1933–1945, The Great Society: 1963–1968, Transformation Years: 1969–1992, The New Democrats: 1992–2004, Howard Dean and The Fifty-state Strategy, 2005–2007, 2008 Presidential Election, The Obama Presidency: 2009–present
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