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Political parties in the United States.

Before the Revolution the two political parties in America were the Whigs and Tories. The latter favored royalty, and the former, including Sons of Liberty, Liberty Men, and Patriots, advocated independence. At the close of the Revolution the Whig party divided into Particularists, favoring State sovereignty and advocating confederation; and Strong Government, favoring a constitution. In 1787 the Particularists became Anti-federalists and the Strong Government party Federalists. Since this, the history of the various political parties in the United States has been as follows:

Principal parties.

Federal, 1787-1816.

Formed from the Strong Government or Constitutional party. Elected two Presidents: Washington, two terms, and Adams, one term. Advocated a tariff; internal revenue; funding the public debt; a United States bank; a militia; assumption of State debt by the government; favored England as against France; opposed a war with England and a protective tariff. Washington, John Adams, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were among its principal supporters.

Democratic-Republican, 1793-1828.

Formed from the Anti-federal (1787-93), the Republican or Jeffersonian party (1791-93), and Democrats or sympathizers with the French Revolutionists (1791-93). Elected three Presidents: Jefferson, two terms; Madison, two terms; Monroe, two terms. Favored State rights; enlarged freedom; France as against England; war with England; internal improvement; purchase of Louisiana; [236] purchase of Florida; Missouri Compromise, 1820; Monroe doctrine; free-trade in 1800 and a protective tariff in 1828.

Democratic party, 1828

The Democratic-Republican party divided into four parts in the Presidential campaign of 1824 and never reappeared again in a national contest. The Democratic (and Whig) party was constructed out of its ruins. Has elected six Presidents: Jackson, two terms; Van Buren, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, one term; Cleveland, two terms. Favored internal improvements; State banks; removal of deposits; sub-treasury; State rights; free-trade; tariff for revenue only; annexation of Texas; Mexican War; compromise of 1850; Monroe doctrine; Dred Scott decision; fugitive slave law; acquisition of Cuba; frugal public expense; free coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1. Opposed agitation of the slavery question in any form or place; coercion of the seceded States; the amelioration of the condition of the freed negroes; freedmen's bureau; Chinese immigration; strong government; opposes in general the policy of the other party in power.

Whig party, 1834-54

Formed from a union of the National Republicans and disrupted Democratic-Republicans. Elected two Presidents: Harrison and Taylor. Favored non-extension of slavery; slavery agitation—i. e., right of petition and free circulation of anti-slavery documents; a United States bank; protective tariff; vigorous internal improvements; compromise of 1850. Opposed the Seminole War; annexation of Texas; Mexican War; State rights; Democratic policy towards slavery. Principal leaders of this party, Webster and Clay.

Republican, 1854.—Formed from other parties, principally from the Whig party, on the issues of the slavery question. Has elected six Presidents: Lincoln, two terms; Grant, two terms; Hayes, Garfield, and Harrison, one term; McKinley, two terms. Favored the suppression of slavery; suppression of the rebellion; all constitutional means to accomplish it, financial and otherwise; emancipation of slaves; prohibition of slavery throughout the United States; full citizenship to the emancipated slaves; Monroe doctrine; full payment of the national debt; protective tariff; free ballot; generous pension legislation; decided increase of the navy and coast defence. Opposed the free coinage of silver. This party, while showing many able men, has never had a leader. It has maintained its national position through the principles it has advocated. Remark: Both the Democratic and Republican, as the chief parties, recognize and assume to legislate on all questions of national importance—viz., civil-service reform; woman's suffrage; free ballot; justice to the laboring classes; private interests as against monopolies; the general finances of the country; temperance, etc.

Minor parties.

Anti-federalist party.

A continuation of the Particularists. See Democratic-Republican on page 235.

Peace party, 1812-15

Composed of Democratic-Republicans and Federalists, mostly in New England. Opposed the War of 1812. See Hartford convention.

Clintonians party, 1812

An offshoot of the Democratic-Republican party who opposed long terms of office, caucus nominations, a Virginia President, and an official regency. United with the Federalists. Nominated De Witt Clinton, of New York, for President.

People's party, 1824

An offshoot of the Democratic-Republicans in New York, who favored the choosing of electors by the people instead of State legislatures. Supported William H. Crawford for President.

Coalition party, 1825

So called from the union of the supporters of Clay with those of John Quincy Adams in the House, thus giving the Presidency to Adams.

Anti-masonic party, 1827-34

Consisted of those who believed the members of the Masonic fraternity held their civil obligations subordinate to their fraternal, hence unworthy to hold office. See Morgan, William.

National-Republican, 1828-34.

The broad-construction wing of the Democratic-Republican party. For internal improvements, protection, and a United States bank; for dividing proceeds of land sales among States. Opposed to the spoils system. United to form the Whig party, 1834. Supported John Quincy Adams, 1828, and Henry Clay, 1832. [237]

Nullification party, 1831-33

A South Carolina party organized by Calhoun. See State of South Carolina.

Liberal party, 1840-48

Founded at a national convention of abolitionists at Albany, N. Y., deriving additional strength from Whigs and Democrats. For the immediate abolition of slavery, and equal rights. Against the fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution. Nominated James G. Birney for President, 1839, and again in 1843. Withdrew their candidates and joined the Free-soil party in 1848.

Free-soil party, 1848-54

Formed from the Liberty party, Democrats, and Whigs. Chief cause of its appearance, opposition to slavery. Merged into the Republican party. Nominated Martin Van Buren for President, 1848, and John P. Hale, 1852.

American party, 1852-60

Generally known as the “Know-nothing party.” Formed from members of other parties dissatisfied with the influx and power of the foreign element. Favored more stringent naturalization laws; reserved rights of States. Opposed foreign immigration; suffrage and office-holding by foreign-born citizens; efforts to reject the Bible from the public schools, etc. Nominated Millard Fillmore for President in 1856. Merged into the Constitutional Union party in 1860. See know-nothing party.

Douglas Democrats, 1860

Northern Democrats, supporters of Stephen A. Douglas in the disruption of the Democratic party in 1860.

Breckinridge Democrats party, 1860

Southern Democrats, supporters of Breckinridge in 1860.

Constitutional Union party, 1860

Democrats, for the Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of law; supporters of Bell and Everett.

Liberal Republicans, 1872.

Formed by dissatisfied Republicans, formerly mostly war Democrats. Favored greater leniency towards the Confederates. Nominated Horace Greeley for President, 1872.

“Straight-out” Democrats, 1872.

The “Tap-root” Democrats, displeased by the nomination of Greeley by the Regular Democrats, nominated Charles O'Conor for President; declined, but received about 30,000 popular votes.

Temperance, 1872.

A national combination of local temperance organizations, became

Prohibition party, 1876

For legal prohibition; female suffrage; direct Presidential vote; currency convertible into coin. Nominated James Black from Pennsylvania for President, 1872; Green Clay Smith, 1876; Neal Dow, 1880; John P. St. John, 1884; C. B. Fisk, 1888; John Bidwell, 1892; Joshua Levering, 1896; John G. Woolley, 1900.

Greenback party, 1874

Became National Greenback Party, 1878; became Union Labor Party, 1887.—Unlimited coinage of gold and silver; substitution of greenbacks for national bank notes; suffrage without regard to sex; legislation in the interest of the laboring classes, etc. Nominated Peter Cooper for President, 1876; James B. Weaver, 1880; Benjamin F. Butler, 1884; Alson J. Streeter, 1888. These various elements, uniting with the “Farmers' Alliance,” form the

People's or Populists' party party, 1891

A meeting was held at St. Louis, December. 1889, of the “Farmers and laborers' Union of America,” for the purpose of consolidating the various bodies of organized farmers in the United States, which had at different times and places formed since 1867, and known under the general term of “The Granger movement.” This meeting was a success, and the consolidated body was called the “Farmers' Alliance and industrial Union.” Dec. 2, 1890, a national convention was held at Ocala, Fla.; thirty-five States and Territories were represented by 163 delegates: at this convention independent political action was decided upon, and a platform adopted embracing the following principles: (1) The abolition of the national banks, establishment of sub-treasuries to loan money to the people at 2 per cent., increase of circulation to $50 per capita: (2) laws to suppress gambling in agricultural products; (3) unlimited coinage of silver; (4) laws prohibiting alien ownership of land, and to permit the ownership of land in actual use only; (5) restricting tariff; (6) government to control railroads, telegraphs, etc.; (7) direct vote of the people for President, Vice-President, and United States Senators. Second convention held at Cincinnati, May 19, 1891; thirty States and Territories represented [238] with 1,418 delegates; at this convention the platform of Ocala, Fla., 1890, was heartily endorsed and the party given the name of “People's party.” Third national meeting at St. Louis, Feb. 22, 1892. National convention for the nominating of President and Vice-President held at Omaha, July 4, 1892; James B. Weaver, of Iowa, nominated for President, and James G. Field, of Virginia, for Vice-President. United with the Democrats in 1896 and 1900 in nominating William J. Bryan.

Socialist labor party.

First national convention held in New York City, Aug. 28, 1892, and nominated Simon Wing, of Massachusetts, for President, and Charles H. Matchett, of Brooklyn, N. Y., for Vice-President. Nominated Charles H. Matchett in 1896. Joseph F. Malloney in 1900.

National Democrats, 1896

Formed by Democrats who opposed free silver. Nominated John N. Palmer, of Illinois, for President; Simon B. Buckner, of Kentucky, for Vice-President.

Silver Republican party.

United with the Democratic party in nominating William J. Bryan for President.

National party, 1896.

For prohibition and free silver. Nominated Charles E. Bentley, of Nebraska, for President; James H. Southgate, of North Carolina, for Vice-President. Name was changed to Liberty party in 1897.

Middle-of-the-road, or Anti-fusion people's party

In 1900 nominated Wharton Barker, of Pennsylvania, for President.

Union reform party

Nominated Seth H. Ellis, of Ohio, for President in 1900.

Social Democratic

Nominated Eugene V. Debs for President in 1900.

United Christian party

In 1900 nominated J. F. R. Leonard, of Iowa, for President.

Local parties and political names.






Opposers of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, 1854.




Democratic followers of Madison in 1816.




A term of contempt bestowed by the Stalwarts upon those who supported the administration of President Hayes and opposed the nomination of Grant for a third term, etc. Mugwumps.



Independent Republicans.—Started in 1879 in opposition to Senator Conkling's leadership of the party. Mugwumps.

Ku-klux Klan.

Ku-klux Klan.



Readjusters, 1878.

A division of the Democratic party in Virginia advocating the funding of the State debt at 3 per cent.; under the leadership of General Mahone.

Silver Grays.

Silver Grays.


A branch of the Republican party, followers of Conkling, Cameron, and Logan, opposed to the reconciling course of President Hayes towards the South. Favored the nomination of Grant for a third term. Opposers of Blaine, etc.



Woman's rights

Belva Lockwood constituted herself a candidate for President in 1876.

Polk, James Knox

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