Since their conception in 1786, political parties have influenced the shaping of our nation. They were formed, destroyed, split, united, and battled amongst one another for superiority. Tracing their progress from conception through the Civil War will reflect on their influence in presidential elections as well as their affect on the controversial issues of the times.
The first official political parties of the United States began in 1786 as the fight of ratification for the Constitution ensued. The Federalists, those who advocated for its acceptance, and the Anti-Federalists, those who opposed, argued over its proponents up until the Constitution was fully ratified by all states in 1790 much to the Anti-Federalists dismay who would soon dissolve. However, the Anti-Federalists would leave their legacy when the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791.
Building on Anti-Federalists principles came the Democratic-Republicans, also known as the Jeffersonians or, more commonly, the Republicans. The two parties differed in their beliefs about how the young nation should transition into world affairs. Under the presidency of George Washington, the two parties would continue to quarrel over how the nation’s government would develop internally, eventually reaching its head when the pressures of Europe’s war resulted with the disastrous Jay’s Treaty. The treaty ultimately turned the two parties against one another, creating a rift that would eventually lead to the Federalists demise.
Although the Federalists Party would barely survive through the election of 1796, the first election with candidates belonging to official parties that awarded John Adams the presidency, the internal tension within the party would caus...
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... Republicans were reunified behind Lincoln who was reelected. A short time later the war would end at Appomattox Courthouse as the Confederate force led by Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9th. Though victorious, the North’s celebration would be short lived. With the assassination of Lincoln on April 14th, Andrew Johnson would rise to the presidency and lead the nation into the struggle for reconstruction.
Though the path was a struggle of conflicting views diverging parties into two, and victories unifying and reviving the embattled, political parties have managed to survive the trials of our nation’s creation and its near destruction. From their conception with the Federalist and Anti-Federalists, to the complex two-party system dominated by Republicans and Democrats through the Civil War, the political parties have helped shape our nation into what it is today.
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