The American Two Party Political System Essay

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The American Two Party Political System Essay, Research Paper The American two Party Political System Since the administration of George Washington two political parties have dominated the United States political system, but they have not always been the same two parties. The first two parties were the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Federalists were those who supported a strong federal government and the Anti-Federalists were those who did not. The leaders of the Federalists were Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. Both were from the Northeast where the Federalist line of thinking was strongest. Thomas Jefferson became the leader of the Anti-Federalists. These two groups really did not considered themselves parties. The founders feared parties because they thought of them

as factions. They were self centered and driven by ambition to forward their own self-interests. Thomas Jefferson organized his Anti-Federalist followers and they became known as the Jeffersonian Republicans. This organization of the Federalist opposition in the election of 1800 is what is known as the Revolution of 1800. The Federalists feared the Jeffersonians were out to undermine the government, while Jefferson?s party felt the same about the Federalists. By the time Jefferson was elected to the presidency in 1800 his party was called Democratic Republican. The Federalist Party disappeared as a political force by the 1820 election, mostly because of its opposition to the War of 1812. The fall of the Federalist Party left the country with only one major party, but only for a

short time. During the 1820?s Democratic Republicans began to split into two parts. The conservatives of the party favored a strong nationalism, a protective tariff, and a national bank. They called themselves National Republicans. The others stood for states’ rights, tariff for revenue only, and an independent treasury. They took the name Democratic and elected its leader, Andrew Jackson, to the Presidency in 1828 and 1832. The party of Jackson is today’s Democratic Party. By the election of 1836 the National Republicans and other anti-Jacksonians had merged to form a new party, the Whigs. They lost to the Democrats that year, but in 1840 they succeeded in getting William Henry Harrison elected President. In 1844 the Whig candidate, Henry Clay, lost to James Polk, but in the

next election Zachary Taylor won for the Whigs. This seemed to be a time of uncertainty in political direction. While this uncertainty was taking place, a social force greater than party loyalty was beginning to reshape American politics. The slavery issue, with the passions it aroused in the North and the South, gradually compelled a realignment of parties. The Whigs party began to split in 1852. This was a result of the deep split in opinion over slavery. During the next few years most Southern Whigs joined the Democrats. Northern Whigs joined northern antislavery Democrats. In 1854 groups of northern men against slavery urged the creation of a new political party opposed to the continuation of slavery. This party has become today?s Republicans. During 1854 to1860, the slavery

issue became such a hot topic that even Democrats were becoming divided among themselves. In 1860 four candidates ran for the presidency. Brekenridge was the Southern Democrats candidate, Douglas was the Northern Democrats candidate, Abraham Lincoln was the Republican candidate, and Bell was the candidate for a third party. This was a very significant election because the parties were so divided on the single issue of slavery. Abraham Lincoln won with only 40% of the popular vote. What makes this even more amazing is that his entire portion of the popular vote came exclusively from the north. His name was not even on the ballot in the south. It was shortly after this election that the American Civil War between the North and South began. The Republicans emerged from the Civil War