With the current state of affairs with the two-party system, coupled with this election year, I thought I might take a look at a brief history of the evolution of political parties in the United States.
U. S. Political Party History
The first political party formed around 1787 by Alexander Hamilton and other leaders who wanted a strong central government. They called themselves the Federalists. By 1796 some grew against the Federalists platform and a group of followers, led by Thomas Jefferson, started a party called the Democratic-Republicans. They believed in a smaller national government, while leaving the governing power to the states and local governments.
When Jefferson came to the office in 1801, the Federalists were losing power to the Democratic-Republicans. Although the Federalists hung on as a minority party for 20 years, the differing thoughts and values through the developing United States (which ultimately led to the Civil War) paved the way for new parties.
When Andrew Jackson was elected and served two terms, the party was renamed to Democrats, thus making Jackson the first Democrat president. Former Federalists joined in opposition to the Democrats and formed the National Republicans, or Whigs. The Whigs enjoyed four presidents in office – William Henry Harrison, who died while in office in 1841 (the first president to do so). John Tyler filled in and remained in office for one term. In 1845, the Whigs lost to a Democrat, James K. Polk, only to regain the office in 1849 with Zachary Taylor. However, he died in office 16 months later. Millard Fillmore became president and was out of office in 1853. Democrats took the office for the remainder of the 1850’s.
The issue of slavery rose to the forefront of the political stage leaving little room for other issues. The Whig Party began to fall apart, due in part to members leaving to form Northern Abolitionists, who wanted to abolish slavery. A new Republican Party was formed and by 1860 there were four major parties – Northern Democrat, Southern Democrat, Republican, and the Constitutional-Union Party. With slavery a strong issue, Republicans secured their first president Abraham Lincoln. States’ rights began to be an issue with slavery and in 1861 the Southern states seceded and the Civil War began.
At the conclusion of the Civil War, the two parties – Republicans and Democrats became the major political parties – took their turn with the presidency. During this time, third parties also began to appear like in 1872 a woman, Victoria Woodhull, became the first woman to run for president. She shared the Equal Rights Party ticket with African American leader Frederick Douglass. The People’s Party of the U.S.A., also known as the Populists, gained their support from the common workers and farmers. Republicans split and formed a group called the Progressive, or “Bull Moose,” Party in 1912. After the Second World War, Southern Democrats formed the States’ Rights Party in order to fight for the civil rights of African Americans. The Libertarian Party, formed in the 1970’s, was for individual rights. The 1990’s saw the rise of the Reform Party, led by Texas businessman Ross Perot. The Green Party has formed to take on the environmental movement.
Below is a list of the presidents with affiliation, and length of presidency:
George Washington – Federalist (1789-1797)
John Adams – Federalist (1797-1801)
Thomas Jefferson – Democratic-Republican (1801-1809)
James Madison – Democratic-Republican (1809-1817)
James Monroe – Democratic-Republican (1817-1825)
John Quincy Adams – Democratic-Republican (1825-1829)
Andrew Jackson – Democrat (1829-1837)
Martin Van Buren – Democrat
William Henry Harrison – Whig (1841)
John Tyler – Whig (1841-1845)
James K. Polk – Democrat (1845-1849)
Zachary Taylor – Whig (1849-1850)
Millard Fillmore – Whig (1850-1853)
Franklin Pierce – Democrat (1853-1857)
James Buchanan – Democrat (1957-1861)
Abraham Lincoln – Republican (1861-1865)
Andrew Johnson – Democrat-Union (1865-1869)
Ulysses S. Grant – Republican (1869-1877)
Rutherford B. Hayes – Republican (1877-1881)
James A. Garfield – Republican (1881)
Chester A. Arthur – Republican (1881-1885)
Grover Cleveland – Democrat (1885-1889)
Benjamin Harrison – Republican (1889-1893)
Grover Cleveland – Democrat (1893-1897)
William McKinley – Republican (1897-1901)
Theodore Roosevelt – Republican (1901-1909)
William Howard Taft – Republican (1909-1913)
Woodrow Wilson – Democrat (1913-1921)
Warren G. Harding – Republican (1921-1923)
Calvin Coolidge – Republican (1923-1929)
Herbert Hoover – Republican (1929-1933)
Franklin D. Roosevelt – Democrat (1933-1945)
Harry S. Truman – Democrat (1945-1953)
Dwight D. Eisenhower – Republican (1953-1961)
John F. Kennedy – Democrat (1961-1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson – Democrat (1963-1969)
Richard Nixon – Republican (1969-1974)
Gerald Ford – Republican (1974-1977)
Jimmy Carter – Democrat (1977-1981)
Ronald Reagan – Republican (1981-1989)
George Bush – Republican (1989-1993)
Bill Clinton – Democrat (1993-2001)
George W. Bush – Republican (2001-2009)
Barrack Obama – Democrat (2009-2017)
Lesser of Two Evils
Political parties in the United States have seen and wide and varied existence since the Federalists were formed in the late 18th Century. Today, this election year, the two major parties – Republican and Democrat – have given us candidates Trump and Clinton. Two seemingly polar opposites and both appear to be wrong for this country. I’ve heard people say they’ll vote for the lesser of the two evils. But which one is that?
There have been discussions where Trump is the lesser evil, but also that Clinton is the lesser evil. My opinion is that Clinton is the lesser evil of the two. But sometimes it seems hard to tell. It is difficult to see. Clouded is their future. The shroud of the dark side has fallen and clouds everything.
Okay. I digress.
Back to Trump and Clinton. It seems some, or most, of America does not approve of either candidate. That’s when they say they’ll vote for the lesser of the two evils. But again, which one is that? I guess some people don’t seem to take the time to look for other options. That’s where third and fourth parties come in. The trouble is they don’t get a lot of publicity until late. But this year, right now, there is a third party candidate on the Libertarian ticket that is making headway. Check out Gary Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld. Green Party candidate Jill Stein is supposedly still in the race, but is not getting numbers like Johnson is. So come September in the first presidential debate, there might be a third member on the stage with Trump and Clinton, something that hasn’t been done since Ross Perot in 1992.
If you don’t like Trump or Clinton, look into the other candidates. There is plenty on them. Johnson and Weld are both former Governors and both former Republicans. Check them out. Here’s an introductory ad for Johnson/Weld:
You can listen to an interview with Johnson below:
Gary Johnson Interview
A vote for Johnson, if (and hopefully when he gets there), will not be a wasted vote. Check out their website: Johnson/Weld 2016
Let’s give America another choice. This election year is too important to just check a box in order to check a box.