01/10/07 - the democratic party is born

In today's excerpt - in 1828, after a period in which one party controlled the U.S. government and an effective alternate party did not exist, a second party rancorously emerges:

"Over the next several years those hostile to the [John Quincy Adams] administration organized themselves under the direction of Senator [Martin] Van Buren with the active help of Vice President Calhoun in support of the candidacy of Andrew Jackson for President in the 1828 election. They came to be called Democratic-Republicans, or simply Democrats, and emphasized the importance of state's rights and fiscal responsibility. Those who agreed with the administration and its nationalistic program called themselves National Republicans and looked to Secretary [Henry] Clay and President Adams for leadership. So ended the Era of Good Feelings, in which one party controlled the government. The two- party system reemerged.

"One of the most important changes to occur in the 1820s was the increased number of voters in state and national elections. The newer western states—Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio—entered the Union with constitutions that granted voting rights to all adult white male citizens, and this trend was imitated by the older states, which summoned conventions to revise their constitutions and broadened the suffrage. As a result, universal white manhood suffrage was achieved in this Age of Jackson. The nation had begun the process of evolving into a more democratic system ...

"These changes were reflected in what was probably the most disgraceful campaign in American history. The two parties, bolstered by an enlarged electorate, set about organizing the country politically by establishing electioneering committees ... and founding newspapers to attack one another. Adams and Clay were pummeled for 'stealing' the 1824 election, and the President was even accused of pimping for the czar of Russia when he served as the U.S. minister to that country. Jackson, on the other hand, was denounced as a murderer and wife-stealer, having married Rachel Donelson Robards while she was still married to her first husband, Lewis Robards. And his mother was called a prostitute, brought to this country to service British soldiers."


Robert V. Remini


The House: The History of the House of Representatives


HarperCollins Publishers


Copyright 2006 Robert V. Remini


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