From as early as the 18th century, the need to have the people’s interests represented by some form of political party had begun to arise. As the nation grew, more and more people gained the right to vote. These citizens had opinions on what and how they believed the administrations should be run in order that their interests are well served. Political discussions begun and people started to voice either their distaste or approval of how the government was being run (Michael 1992). These strong opinions consequently formed the basis of the first political parties and up to date, still continue to do so.
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Rise and fall of the Federal and Democratic-Republican Parties
The Federal Party (1789-1820) was founded by Alexander Hamilton and was the first political party. The federalists supported a stronger central government as opposed to the anti-federalists who had wanted the independence of the states. The party gained popularity with the ratification of the Constitution by the States because prominent anti-federalists announced their intention of supporting the Constitution. It however began to face opposition in 1970 when Hamilton, the then Treasury Secretary, proposed assumption of the State debts by the central government that had been incurred during the Revolutionary War. These efforts to give more powers to the Central Government did not succeed and the federalists gradually vanished from existence (Michael 1992).
The Democratic-Republicans party thus arose in opposition to the propositions of Hamilton and his supporters, especially the economic and foreign policies. The party was founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison around 1972. Jefferson’s supporters saw Hamilton’s party as a sort of a monarchy. The Democratic Party was a true nationalistic party and remained strong for decades. It began to fall as a result of the members loosing focus. They no longer met to discuss ideologies and started to support each other based on personalities. During the1824 elections, the party literally dissolved into two, with some supporting Adams, and these later evolving into the National Republican Party, and the others supporting Andrew Jackson, majority of who formed the modern Democratic Party (Sean 2005).
The Whig Party
The Whig Party (1833-1856) was formed mostly as an opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson. The party was in favor of the supremacy of congress rather than the executive. The party later died due to the difference in opinion over the issue if slavery; while some wanted slavery to be expanded to the territories, others wanted it abolished (Sean 2005).
Today, the two main political parties are the Democrats and the Republicans. The Democratic Party traces its roots to President Andrew Jefferson while the Republican Party, founded in 1854, had President Abraham Lincoln as its first President. The Democratic Party is the largest party in the United States and is known for its liberal position on most matters. The Republican Party is known for its conservative position on matters. It is currently the second largest party.
Political parties continue to play vital functions in the American Society just as they did back then. They are the platform on which the citizens of the United States are able to make known their beliefs as well as expectations of the incumbent governments. With the ideologies of different parties clearly known, the American people are able to keep the administration accountable whether they belong to the ruling party or not.
Holt, Michael F. (1992). Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln. Louisiana State University.
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Wilentz, Sean (2005). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. Norton, New York.