Government and Politics

The American Party System

How did the Democratic Party begin?

The other—and older—principal party in the United States today, the Democratic Party was founded around electing Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) to office in 1800 (against Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Party). The party’s platform favored personal liberty and the limitation of federal government. Installing Jefferson in office, the party—then called the Democratic-Republicans—went on to get its candidates into the White House for the next 25 years. In 1828 they became known simply as Democrats, dropping the suffix. Depending on how one counts, there have been either 18 or 19 Democratic presidents; Andrew Johnson (1808–1875) is problematic since he was a Democrat before joining the National Union Party ticket as the vice presidential candidate in 1864. (Some sources list both party affiliations, as in Democratic/National Union.)


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