History of the United States Democratic Party

History of the United States Democratic Party

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The history of the Democratic Party of the United States is an account of the oldest political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and arguably the oldest democratic party in the world.

It dominated American politics during the Second Party System
Second Party System
The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

, from 1832 to the mid-1850s, with such leaders as presidents Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

, Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

, James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

, and Senator Stephen Douglas, who usually bested the opposition Whig Party
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 by narrow margins, as both parties worked hard to build grass-roots organizations and maximize the turnout of voters. Both parties used patronage extensively to finance their operations, which included emerging big city machines, national networks of newspapers. The party was a spokesman for farmers across the country, urban workers, and new immigrants. It advocated westward expansion, Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

, greater equality for all white men, and opposition to a national bank.

From 1860 to 1932, the Republican Party was dominant, as the Democrats elected only two presidents in 72 years, Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

 (in 1884 and 1892), and Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 (in 1912 and 1916), along with Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 taking over after Lincoln's assassination in 1865 (not elected). The party was split between the Bourbon Democrats, representing Eastern business interests, and the agrarian elements comprising poor farmers in the South and West. The agrarian element, marching behind the slogan of "free silver" (i.e. inflation), captured the party in 1896, and nominated William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

 in 1896, 1900, and 1908; he lost each time. Both Bryan and Wilson were leaders of the Progressive Movement, 1900–1920. Starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 in 1932, the party dominated the Fifth Party System
Fifth Party System
The Fifth Party System refers to the era of American national politics that began with the New Deal in 1933. This era emerged from the realignment of the voting blocs and interest groups supporting the Democratic Party into the New Deal Coalition following the Great Depression. For this reason it...

, with its liberal New Deal Coalition
New Deal coalition
The New Deal Coalition was the alignment of interest groups and voting blocs that supported the New Deal and voted for Democratic presidential candidates from 1932 until the late 1960s. It made the Democratic Party the majority party during that period, losing only to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952...

, losing the White House only to a very popular war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

  (in 1952 and 1956). With two brief interruptions, the Democrats controlled the House from 1930 until 1994, and the Senate for most of that period. Important leaders included Presidents Harry Truman (1945–1953), and Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 (1963–1969), as well as the Kennedy brothers—President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 (1961–63), Senator Robert Kennedy, and Senator Teddy Kennedy, who carried the flag for liberalism. Democrats lost seven out of the last eleven presidential elections, winning in 1976 (Carter), 1992 (Clinton), 1996 (Clinton), and 2008 (Obama). Only twice did the Democrats win a popular majority: Carter won 50.1% of the total popular vote in 1976 and Obama 53% in 2008.

Origins



The modern Democratic Party was formed in the 1830s from former factions of the Democratic-Republican Party, which had largely collapsed by 1824. It was built by Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

 who rallied a cadre of politicians in every state behind war hero Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 of Tennessee.


The spirit of Jacksonian Democracy
Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy is the political movement toward greater democracy for the common man typified by American politician Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson's policies followed the era of Jeffersonian democracy which dominated the previous political era. The Democratic-Republican Party of...

 animated the party from the early 1830s to the 1850s, shaping the Second Party System
Second Party System
The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

, with the Whig Party
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 the main opposition. After the disappearance of the Federalists after 1815, and the Era of Good Feelings
Era of Good Feelings
The Era of Good Feelings was a period in United States political history in which partisan bitterness abated. It lasted approximately from 1815 to 1825, during the administration of U.S...

 (1816–24), there was a hiatus of weakly organized personal factions until about 1828–32, when the modern Democratic Party emerged along with its rival the Whigs. The new Democratic Party became a coalition of farmers, city-dwelling laborers, and Irish Catholics. It was weakest in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, but strong everywhere else and won most national elections thanks to strength in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 (by far, the most populous states at the time), and the frontier. Democrats opposed elites and aristocrats, the Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

, and the whiggish modernizing programs that would build up industry at the expense of the yeoman
Yeoman
Yeoman refers chiefly to a free man owning his own farm, especially from the Elizabethan era to the 17th century. Work requiring a great deal of effort or labor, such as would be done by a yeoman farmer, came to be described as "yeoman's work"...

 or independent small farmer.

From 1828 to 1848, banking and tariffs were the central domestic policy issues. Democrats strongly favored expansion to new farm lands, as typified by their expulsion of eastern American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 and acquisition of vast amounts of new land in the West after 1846. The party favored the War with Mexico and opposed anti-immigrant nativism
Nativism (politics)
Nativism favors the interests of certain established inhabitants of an area or nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants. It may also include the re-establishment or perpetuation of such individuals or their culture....

. Both Democrats and Whigs were divided on the issue of slavery. In the 1830s, the Locofocos
Locofocos
The Locofocos were a radical faction of the Democratic Party that existed from 1835 until the mid-1840s.  The faction was originally named the Equal Rights Party, and was created in New York City as a protest against that city’s regular Democratic organization .  It contained a mixture of...

 in New York City were radically democratic, anti-monopoly, and were proponents of hard money
Hard money (policy)
Hard money policies are those which are opposed to fiat currency and thus in support of a specie standard, usually gold or silver, typically implemented with representative money....

 and free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

. Their chief spokesman was William Leggett
William Leggett (USA)
William Leggett was an American poet, fiction writer, and journalist.-Life:Leggett attended Georgetown College in 1815–6. In 1819, after his father’s business failed, he moved with his family to Edwardsville, Illinois. In late 1822, he returned to New York to take up a naval commission as a...

. At this time labor unions were few; some were loosely affiliated with the party.

Jackson's vice-president, Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

, won the presidency in 1836
United States presidential election, 1836
The United States presidential election of 1836 ushered Martin Van Buren into the White House. It is predominantly remembered for three reasons:...

, but the Panic of 1837
Panic of 1837
The Panic of 1837 was a financial crisis or market correction in the United States built on a speculative fever. The end of the Second Bank of the United States had produced a period of runaway inflation, but on May 10, 1837 in New York City, every bank began to accept payment only in specie ,...

 caused his defeat in 1840
United States presidential election, 1840
The United States presidential election of 1840 saw President Martin Van Buren fight for re-election against an economic depression and a Whig Party unified for the first time behind war hero William Henry Harrison and his "log cabin campaign"...

 at the hands of the Whig ticket of General William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

 and John Tyler
John Tyler
John Tyler was the tenth President of the United States . A native of Virginia, Tyler served as a state legislator, governor, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator before being elected Vice President . He was the first to succeed to the office of President following the death of a predecessor...

; the Democrats got it back in 1844
United States presidential election, 1844
In the United States presidential election of 1844, Democrat James K. Polk defeated Whig Henry Clay in a close contest that turned on foreign policy, with Polk favoring the annexation of Texas and Clay opposed....

 with James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

. Polk lowered tariffs, set up a sub-treasury system, and began and directed the Mexican-American War, in which the United States acquired much of the modern-day American Southwest. The war was strongly opposed by most Whigs, such as Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

.)

The Democratic National Committee
Democratic National Committee
The Democratic National Committee is the principal organization governing the United States Democratic Party on a day to day basis. While it is responsible for overseeing the process of writing a platform every four years, the DNC's central focus is on campaign and political activity in support...

 (DNC) was created in 1848
United States presidential election, 1848
The United States presidential election of 1848 was an open race. President James K. Polk, having achieved all of his major objectives in one term and suffering from declining health that would take his life less than four months after leaving office, kept his promise not to seek re-election.The...

 at the convention that nominated General Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass was an American military officer and politician. During his long political career, Cass served as a governor of the Michigan Territory, an American ambassador, a U.S. Senator representing Michigan, and co-founder as well as first Masonic Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan...

, who lost to General Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States and an American military leader. Initially uninterested in politics, Taylor nonetheless ran as a Whig in the 1848 presidential election, defeating Lewis Cass...

 of the Whigs. A major cause of the defeat was that the new Free Soil Party
Free Soil Party
The Free Soil Party was a short-lived political party in the United States active in the 1848 and 1852 presidential elections, and in some state elections. It was a third party and a single-issue party that largely appealed to and drew its greatest strength from New York State. The party leadership...

, which opposed slavery expansion, split the Democratic Party, particularly in New York, where the electoral votes went to Taylor. Democrats in Congress passed the hugely controversial Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

. In state after state, however, the Democrats gained small but permanent advantages over the Whig Party, which finally collapsed in 1852, fatally weakened by division on slavery and nativism
Nativism (politics)
Nativism favors the interests of certain established inhabitants of an area or nation as compared to claims of newcomers or immigrants. It may also include the re-establishment or perpetuation of such individuals or their culture....

. The fragmented opposition could not stop the election of Democrats Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States and is the only President from New Hampshire. Pierce was a Democrat and a "doughface" who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Pierce took part in the Mexican-American War and became a brigadier general in the Army...

 in 1852
United States presidential election, 1852
The United States presidential election of 1852 bore important similarities to the election of 1844. Once again, the incumbent president was a Whig who had succeeded to the presidency upon the death of his war-hero predecessor. In this case, it was Millard Fillmore who followed General Zachary Taylor...

 and James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

 in 1856
United States presidential election, 1856
The United States presidential election of 1856 was an unusually heated contest that led to the election of James Buchanan, the ambassador to the United Kingdom. Republican candidate John C. Frémont condemned the Kansas–Nebraska Act and crusaded against the expansion of slavery, while Democrat...

.

Young America


Eyal (2007) argues that the 1840s and 1850s were the heyday of a new faction of young Democrats called "Young America
Young America movement
The Young America Movement was an American political and cultural attitude in the mid-nineteenth century. Inspired by European reform movements of the 1830s , the American group was formed as a political organization in 1845 by Edwin de Leon and George H. Evans...

." Led by Stephen Douglas, James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

 and Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States and is the only President from New Hampshire. Pierce was a Democrat and a "doughface" who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Pierce took part in the Mexican-American War and became a brigadier general in the Army...

, and New York financier August Belmont
August Belmont
August Belmont, Sr. was an American politician.-Early life:August Belmont was born in Alzey, Hesse, on December 8, 1813--some sources say 1816--to Simon and Frederika Elsass Schönberg, a Jewish family. After his mother's death, when he was seven, he lived with his uncle and grandmother in Frankfurt...

, this faction explains, broke with the agrarian and strict constructionist orthodoxies of the past and embraced commerce, technology, regulation, reform, and internationalism. The movement attracted a circle of outstanding writers, including William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post.-Youth and education:...

, George Bancroft
George Bancroft
George Bancroft was an American historian and statesman who was prominent in promoting secondary education both in his home state and at the national level. During his tenure as U.S. Secretary of the Navy, he established the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1845...

, Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

 and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

. They sought independence from European standards of high culture and wanted to demonstrate the excellence and exceptionalism of America’s own literary tradition.

In economic policy Young America saw the necessity of a modern infrastructure with railroads, canals, telegraphs, turnpikes, and harbors; they endorsed the "market revolution
Market Revolution
The Market Revolution in the United States was a drastic change in the manual labor system originating in south and later spread to the entire world. Traditional commerce was made obsolete by improvements in transportation and communication. This change prompted the reincarnation of the...

" and promoted capitalism. They called for Congressional land grants to the states, which allowed Democrats to claim that internal improvements were locally rather than federally sponsored. Young America claimed that modernization would perpetuate the agrarian vision of Jeffersonian Democracy
Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian Democracy, so named after its leading advocate Thomas Jefferson, is a term used to describe one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson...

 by allowing yeomen farmers to sell their products and therefore to prosper. They tied internal improvements to free trade, while accepted moderate tariffs as a necessary source of government revenue. They supported the Independent Treasury (the Jacksonian alternative to the Second Bank of the United States) not as a scheme to quash the special privilege”of the Whiggish monied elite, but as a device to spread prosperity to all Americans.

Breakdown of the political system, 1854–1860


In 1854, despite strong protest, the main Democratic leader in the Senate, Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed...

 of Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, pushed through the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

. Although it was not the initial purpose of the act, it established that settlers could vote to decide to allow or not allow slavery. Against the backdrop of the slavery issue, a major re-alignment took place among voters and politicians, with new issues, new parties, and new rules. The Whig Party dissolved entirely. While the Democrats survived, many northern Democrats (especially Free Soilers
Free Soil Party
The Free Soil Party was a short-lived political party in the United States active in the 1848 and 1852 presidential elections, and in some state elections. It was a third party and a single-issue party that largely appealed to and drew its greatest strength from New York State. The party leadership...

 from 1848) joined the newly established Republican Party
History of the United States Republican Party
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

. Buchanan, a Northern "Doughface" (his base of support was in the pro-slavery South) split the party on the issue of slavery in Kansas when he attempted to pass a Federal slave code; most Democrats in the North rallied to Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed...

, who preached "Popular Sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

" and believed that a Federal slave code would be undemocratic.

The Democratic Party was unable to compete with the Republican Party, which controlled nearly all northern states by 1860, bringing a solid majority in the electoral college. The Republicans claimed that the northern Democrats, including Doughfaces such as Pierce and Buchanan, and advocates of popular sovereignty such as Stephen A. Douglas and Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass was an American military officer and politician. During his long political career, Cass served as a governor of the Michigan Territory, an American ambassador, a U.S. Senator representing Michigan, and co-founder as well as first Masonic Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan...

, were accomplices to Slave Power
Slave power
The Slave Power was a term used in the Northern United States to characterize the political power of the slaveholding class of the South....

. The Republicans argued that slaveholders had seized control of the federal government and were blocking the progress of liberty.


In 1860 the Democrats were unable to stop the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, even as they feared his election would lead to the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The party split in two, with the northern wing nominating Douglas and the southern wing nominating Vice President John C. Breckinridge
John C. Breckinridge
John Cabell Breckinridge was an American lawyer and politician. He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Kentucky and was the 14th Vice President of the United States , to date the youngest vice president in U.S...

. Douglas campaigned across the country and came in second in the popular vote, but carried only Missouri and New Jersey. Breckinridge carried 11 slave states.

Civil War


During the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, Northern Democrats divided into two factions, the War Democrats
War Democrats
War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected the Copperheads/Peace Democrats who controlled the party...

, who supported the military policies of President Lincoln, and the Copperheads, who strongly opposed them. During the Civil War, no party politics were allowed in the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

, as Confederates believed parties were unwise in wartime. Partisanship flourished in the North and strengthened the Lincoln Administration as Republicans automatically rallied behind it. After the attack on Ft. Sumter, Douglas rallied northern Democrats behind the Union, but when Douglas died, the party lacked an outstanding figure in the North, and by 1862 an anti-war peace element was gaining strength. The most intense anti-war elements the Copperheads
Copperheads (politics)
The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats in the Northern United States who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. Republicans started calling anti-war Democrats "Copperheads," likening them to the venomous snake...

.

The Democratic Party did well in the 1862 congressional elections, but in 1864
United States presidential election, 1864
In the United States Presidential election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president. The election was held during the Civil War. Lincoln ran under the National Union ticket against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top general. McClellan ran as the "peace candidate",...

 it nominated General George McClellan
George B. McClellan
George Brinton McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union...

, a War Democrat, on a peace platform, and lost badly because many War Democrats bolted to National Union
National Union Party (United States)
The National Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election, held during the Civil War. State Republican parties did not usually change their name....

 candidate Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

.

Reconstruction


In the 1866 elections
United States House election, 1866
Elections to the United States House of Representatives were held in 1866 to elect Representatives to the 40th United States Congress.The elections occurred just one year after the American Civil War ended at Appomattox, in which the Union defeated the Confederacy....

, the Radical Republicans won two-thirds majorities in Congress and took control of national affairs. The large GOP majorities made Congressional Democrats helpless, though they unanimously opposed the Radicals' Reconstruction policies. Realizing that the old issues were holding it back, the Democrats tried a "New Departure"
New Departure (Democrats)
The New Departure refers to the political strategy used by the Democratic Party in the United States after 1865 to distance itself from its pro-slavery and Copperhead history in an effort to broaden its political base, and focus on issues where it had more of an advantage, especially economic...

 that downplayed the War and stressed such issues as corruption and white supremacy. Regardless, war hero Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 led the Republicans to landslides in 1868
United States presidential election, 1868
The United States presidential election of 1868 was the first presidential election to take place after the American Civil War, during the period referred to as Reconstruction...

 and 1872
United States presidential election, 1872
In the United States presidential election of 1872, incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant was easily elected to a second term in office with Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts as his running mate, despite a split within the Republican Party that resulted in a defection of many Liberal Republicans...

.

The Democrats lost consecutive presidential elections from 1860 through 1880 (1876 was in dispute) and did not win the presidency until 1884. The party was weakened by its record of opposition to the war but nevertheless benefited from white Southerners' resentment of Reconstruction and consequent hostility to the Republican Party. The nationwide depression of 1873
Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1873 triggered a severe international economic depression in both Europe and the United States that lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries. The depression was known as the Great Depression until the 1930s, but is now known as the Long Depression...

 allowed the Democrats to retake control of the House in the 1874 Democratic landslide
United States House election, 1874
The U.S. House election, 1874 was an election for the United States House of Representatives in 1874, which occurred in the middle of President Ulysses S. Grant's second term. It was an important turning point, as the Republicans lost heavily and the Democrats gained control of the House...

. The Redeemers
Redeemers
In United States history, "Redeemers" and "Redemption" were terms used by white Southerners to describe a political coalition in the Southern United States during the Reconstruction era which followed the American Civil War...

 gave the Democrats control of every Southern state (by the Compromise of 1877
Compromise of 1877
The Compromise of 1877, also known as the Corrupt Bargain, refers to a purported informal, unwritten deal that settled the disputed 1876 U.S. Presidential election and ended Congressional Reconstruction. Through it, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded the White House over Democrat Samuel J...

); the disenfranchisement
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 of blacks took place 1890–1900. From 1880 to 1960 the "Solid South
Solid South
Solid South is the electoral support of the Southern United States for the Democratic Party candidates for nearly a century from 1877, the end of Reconstruction, to 1964, during the middle of the Civil Rights era....

" voted Democratic in presidential elections (except 1928). After 1900, a victory in a Democratic primary was "tantamount to election
Tantamount to election
"Tantamount to election" is a phrase to describe a situation in which one political party so dominates the demographics of a voting district, that the person winning the party nomination for a race will virtually be assured of winning the general election...

" because the Republican Party was so weak in the South.

Although Republicans continued to control the White House until 1884, the Democrats remained competitive, especially in the mid-Atlantic and lower Midwest, and controlled the House of Representatives for most of that period. In the election of 1884, Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

, the reforming Democratic Governor of New York, won the Presidency, a feat he repeated in 1892, having lost in the election of 1888.

Cleveland was the leader of the Bourbon Democrats. They represented business interests, supported banking and railroad goals, promoted laissez-faire
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

 capitalism, opposed imperialism and U.S. overseas expansion, opposed the annexation of Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, fought for the gold standard
Gold standard
The gold standard is a monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is a fixed mass of gold. There are distinct kinds of gold standard...

, and opposed Bimetallism
Bimetallism
In economics, bimetallism is a monetary standard in which the value of the monetary unit is defined as equivalent both to a certain quantity of gold and to a certain quantity of silver; such a system establishes a fixed rate of exchange between the two metals...

. They strongly supported reform movements such as Civil Service Reform
Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act
The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of United States is a federal law established in 1883 that stipulated that government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit. The act provided selection of government employees competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation...

 and opposed corruption of city bosses, leading the fight against the Tweed Ring. The leading Bourbons included Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel J. Tilden
Samuel Jones Tilden was the Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency in the disputed election of 1876, one of the most controversial American elections of the 19th century. He was the 25th Governor of New York...

, David Bennett Hill
David B. Hill
David Bennett Hill was an American politician from New York who was the 29th Governor of New York from 1885 to 1891.-Life:...

 and William C. Whitney
William C. Whitney
William Collins Whitney was an American political leader and financier and founder of the prominent Whitney family. He served as Secretary of the Navy in the first Cleveland administration from 1885 through 1889. A conservative reformer, he was considered a Bourbon Democrat.-Early life:William...

 of New York, Arthur Pue Gorman of Maryland, Thomas F. Bayard
Thomas F. Bayard
Thomas Francis Bayard was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served three terms as U.S. Senator from Delaware, and as U.S. Secretary of State, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.-Early life and family:Bayard was born in...

 of Delaware, William L. Wilson
William Lyne Wilson
William Lyne Wilson was a Bourbon Democrat politician and lawyer from West Virginia.-Biography:Born in Charles Town, Virginia , Wilson attended Charles Town Academy, graduated from Columbian College in 1860 and subsequently studied at the University of Virginia...

 of West Virginia, John Griffin Carlisle
John Griffin Carlisle
John Griffin Carlisle was a prominent American politician in the Democratic Party during the last quarter of the 19th century. He served as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1883 to 1889 and as United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1893 to 1897 during the Panic...

 of Kentucky, William F. Vilas
William Freeman Vilas
William Freeman Vilas was a member of the Democratic Party who served in the United States Senate for the state of Wisconsin from 1891 to 1897. He was a prominent Bourbon Democrat....

 of Wisconsin, J. Sterling Morton
Julius Sterling Morton
Julius Sterling Morton was a Nebraska editor who served as President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture. He was a prominent Bourbon Democrat, taking the conservative position on political, economic and social issues, and opposing agrarianism...

 of Nebraska, John M. Palmer
John M. Palmer (politician)
John McAuley Palmer , was an Illinois resident, an American Civil War General who fought for the Union, the 15th Governor of Illinois, and presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party in the 1896 election on a platform to defend the gold standard, free trade, and limited...

 of Illinois, Horace Boies
Horace Boies
Horace Boies served as the 14th Governor of Iowa from 1890 to 1894 as a member of the United States Democratic Party. Boies was the only Democrat to serve in that position from 1855-1933.- Life before Iowa :...

 of Iowa, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (II)
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar was an American politician and jurist from Mississippi. A United States Representative and Senator, he also served as United States Secretary of the Interior in the first administration of President Grover Cleveland, as well as an Associate Justice of the U.S...

 of Mississippi, and railroad builder James J. Hill
James J. Hill
James Jerome Hill , was a Canadian-American railroad executive. He was the chief executive officer of a family of lines headed by the Great Northern Railway, which served a substantial area of the Upper Midwest, the northern Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest...

 of Minnesota. A prominent intellectual was Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

. The Bourbons were in power when the Panic of 1893
Panic of 1893
The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, this panic was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures...

 hit, and they took the blame. A fierce struggle inside the party ensued, with catastrophic losses for both the Bourbon and agrarian factions in 1894, leading to the showdown in 1896.

Ethnocultural Politics: pietistic Republicans versus liturgical Democrats


Religious divisions were sharply drawn. Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Scandinavian Lutherans and other pietists in the North were closely linked to the Republican Party. In sharp contrast, liturgical groups, especially the Catholics, Episcopalians, and German Lutherans, looked to the Democratic Party for protection from pietistic moralism, especially prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

. Both parties cut across the class structure, with the Democrats gaining more support from the lower classes and Republicans more support from the upper classes.

Cultural issues, especially prohibition and foreign language schools, became matters of contention because of the sharp religious divisions in the electorate. In the North, about 50 percent of voters were pietistic Protestants (Methodists, Scandinavian Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Disciples of Christ) who believed the government should be used to reduce social sins, such as drinking. Liturgical churches (Roman Catholics, German Lutherans, Episcopalians) comprised over a quarter of the vote and wanted the government to stay out of the morality business. Prohibition debates and referendums heated up politics in most states over a period of decade, as national prohibition was finally passed in 1918 (and repealed in 1932), serving as a major issue between the wet Democrats and the dry GOP.

The Free Silver Movement



Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

 led the party faction of conservative, pro-business Bourbon Democrat
Bourbon Democrat
Bourbon Democrat was a term used in the United States from 1876 to 1904 to refer to a member of the Democratic Party, conservative or classical liberal, especially one who supported President Grover Cleveland in 1884–1888/1892–1896 and Alton B. Parker in 1904. After 1904, the Bourbons faded away...

s, but as the depression of 1893
Panic of 1893
The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, this panic was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing which set off a series of bank failures...

 deepened, his enemies multiplied. At the 1896 convention
1896 Democratic National Convention
The 1896 Democratic National Convention, held at the Chicago Coliseum from July 7 to July 11, was the scene of William Jennings Bryan's nomination as Democratic presidential candidate for the 1896 U.S. presidential election....

 the silverite-agrarian faction repudiated the president, and nominated the crusading orator William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

 on a platform of free coinage of silver
Free Silver
Free Silver was an important United States political policy issue in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Its advocates were in favor of an inflationary monetary policy using the "free coinage of silver" as opposed to the less inflationary Gold Standard; its supporters were called...

. The idea was that minting silver coins would flood the economy with cash and end the depression. Cleveland supporters formed the National Democratic Party
National Democratic Party (United States)
The National Democratic Party or Gold Democrats was a short-lived political party of Bourbon Democrats, who opposed the regular party nominee William Jennings Bryan in 1896. Most members were admirers of Grover Cleveland. They considered Bryan a dangerous man and charged that his "free silver"...

 (Gold Democrats), which attracted politicians and intellectuals (including Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 and Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian in the early 20th century. He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", whose ideas are referred to as the Frontier Thesis. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism...

) who refused to vote Republican.

Bryan, an overnight sensation because of his "Cross of Gold" speech, waged a new-style crusade against the supporters of the gold standard. Criss-crossing the Midwest and East by special train-—he was the first candidate since 1860 to go on the road-—he gave over 500 speeches to audiences in the millions. In St. Louis he gave 36 speeches to workingmen's audiences across the city, all in one day. Most Democratic newspapers were hostile toward Bryan, but he seized control of the media by making the news every day, as he hurled thunderbolts against Eastern monied interests. The rural folk in the South and Midwest were ecstatic, showing an enthusiasm never before seen. Ethnic Democrats, especially Germans and Irish, however, were alarmed and frightened by Bryan. The middle classes, businessmen, newspaper editors, factory workers, railroad workers, and prosperous farmers generally rgejected Bryan's crusade. McKinley promised a return to prosperity based on the gold standard, support for industry, railroads and banks, and pluralism that would enable every group to move ahead.

Although Bryan lost the election in a landslide, he did win the hearts and minds of a majority of Democrats, as shown by his renomination in 1900 and 1908; as late as 1924, the Democrats put his brother on their national ticket. The victory of the Republican Party in the election of 1896 marked the start of the "Progressive Era," from 1896 to 1932, in which the Republican Party usually was dominant.

Bryan, Wilson, and the Progressive Era: 1896–1932


The 1896 election marked a political realignment in which the Republican Party controlled the presidency for 28 of 36 years. The Republicans dominated most of the Northeast and Midwest, and half the West. Bryan, with a base in the South and Plains states, was strong enough to get the nomination in 1900 (losing to McKinley) and 1908 (losing to Taft). Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 dominated the first decade of the century, and to the annoyance of Democrats "stole" the trust issue by crusading against trusts.


Anti-Bryan conservatives controlled the convention in 1904, but faced a Theodore Roosevelt landslide. Bryan dropped his free silver and anti-imperialism rhetoric and supported mainstream progressive
Progressivism
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

 issues, such as the income tax, anti-trust, and direct election of Senators. He backed Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 in 1912, was rewarded with the State Department, then resigned in protest against Wilson's non-pacifistic policies in 1916. Northern Democrats were progressive on most issues, but generally opposed prohibition, were lukewarm regarding women's suffrage, and were reluctant to undercut the "boss system" in the big cities.

Taking advantage of a deep split in the Republican Party, the Democrats took control of the House in 1910, and elected the intellectual reformer Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 in 1912 and 1916. Wilson successfully led Congress to a series of progressive laws, including a reduced tariff, stronger antitrust laws, new programs for farmers, hours-and-pay benefits for railroad workers, and the outlawing of child labor (which was reversed by the Supreme Court). Wilson tolerated the segregation of the federal Civil Service
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

 by Southern cabinet members. Furthermore, bipartisan constitutional amendments for prohibition and women's suffrage were passed in his second term. In effect, Wilson laid to rest the issues of tariffs, money and antitrust that had dominated politics for 40 years.

Wilson oversaw the U.S. role in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and helped write the Versailles Treaty, which included the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

. But in 1919 Wilson's political skills faltered, and suddenly everything turned sour. The Senate rejected Versailles and the League, a nationwide wave of violent, unsuccessful strikes and race riots caused unrest, and Wilson's health collapsed.

The Democrats lost by a huge landslide in 1920, doing especially poorly in the cities, where the German-Americans deserted the ticket, and the Irish Catholics, who dominated the party apparatus, sat on their hands. Although they recovered considerable ground in the Congressional elections of 1922, the entire decade saw the Democrats as a helpless minority in Congress, and as a weak force in most northern states.

At the 1924 Democratic National Convention
1924 Democratic National Convention
The 1924 Democratic National Convention, also called the Klanbake, held at the Madison Square Garden in New York City from June 24 to July 9, took a record 103 ballots to nominate a presidential candidate. It was the longest continuously running convention in United States political history...

, a resolution denouncing the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 was introduced by forces allied with Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...

 and Oscar W. Underwood in order to embarrass the front-runner, William Gibbs McAdoo
William Gibbs McAdoo
William Gibbs McAdoo, Jr. was an American lawyer and political leader who served as a U.S. Senator, United States Secretary of the Treasury and director of the United States Railroad Administration...

. After much debate, the resolution failed by a single vote. The KKK faded away soon after, but the deep split in the party over cultural issues, especially Prohibition, facilitated Republican landslides in 1920, 1924, and 1928. However, Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...

 did build a strong Catholic base in the big cities in 1928, and Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

's election as Governor of New York that year brought a new leader to center stage.

The New Deal and World War II: 1933–1945



The stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 set the stage for a more progressive government and Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 won a landslide victory
Landslide victory
In politics, a landslide victory is the victory of a candidate or political party by an overwhelming margin in an election...

 in the election of 1932
United States presidential election, 1932
The United States presidential election of 1932 took place as the effects of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, the Revenue Act of 1932, and the Great Depression were being felt intensely across the country. President Herbert Hoover's popularity was falling as...

, campaigning on a platform of "Relief, Recovery, and Reform"; that is, relief of unemployment and rural distress, recovery of the economy back to normal, and long-term structural reforms to prevent a repetition of the Depression. This came to be termed "The New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

" after a phrase in Roosevelt's acceptance speech. The Democrats also swept to large majorities in both houses of Congress, and among state governors. Roosevelt altered the nature of the party, away from laissez-faire capitalism, and towards an ideology of economic regulation and insurance against hardship. Two old words took on new meanings: "Liberal" now meant a supporter of the New Deal; "conservative" meant an opponent. Conservative Democrats were outraged; led by Al Smith
Al Smith
Alfred Emanuel Smith. , known in private and public life as Al Smith, was an American statesman who was elected the 42nd Governor of New York three times, and was the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928...

, they formed the American Liberty League
American Liberty League
The American Liberty League was an American political organization formed in 1934 by conservative Democrats to oppose the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was active for just two years...

 in 1934 and counterattacked. They failed, and either retired from politics or joined the Republican Party. A few of them, such as Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

, found their way back to the Democratic Party.

The 1933 programs, called "the First New Deal" by historians, represented a broad consensus; Roosevelt tried to reach out to business and labor, farmers and consumers, cities and countryside. By 1934, however, he was moving toward a more confrontational policy. After making gains in state governorships and in Congress, in 1934 Roosevelt embarked on an ambitious legislative program that came to be called "The Second New Deal." It was characterized by building up labor unions, nationalizing welfare by the WPA
Works Progress Administration
The Works Progress Administration was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects...

, setting up Social Security
Social Security (United States)
In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program.The original Social Security Act and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs...

, imposing more regulations on business (especially transportation and communications), and raising taxes on business profits. Roosevelt's New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 programs focused on job creation through public works
Public works
Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

 projects as well as on social welfare programs such as Social Security
Social Security (United States)
In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program.The original Social Security Act and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs...

. It also included sweeping reforms to the banking system, work regulation, transportation, communications, and stock markets, as well as attempts to regulate prices. His policies soon paid off by uniting a diverse coalition of Democratic voters called the New Deal Coalition
New Deal coalition
The New Deal Coalition was the alignment of interest groups and voting blocs that supported the New Deal and voted for Democratic presidential candidates from 1932 until the late 1960s. It made the Democratic Party the majority party during that period, losing only to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952...

, which included labor unions, southerners, minorities (most significantly, Catholics and Jews), and liberals. This united voter base allowed Democrats to be elected to Congress and the presidency for much of the next 30 years.

After a triumphant re-election in 1936
United States presidential election, 1936
The United States presidential election of 1936 was the most lopsided presidential election in the history of the United States in terms of electoral votes. In terms of the popular vote, it was the third biggest victory since the election of 1820, which was not seriously contested.The election took...

, he announced plans to enlarge the Supreme Court, which tended to oppose his New Deal, by five new members. A firestorm of opposition erupted, led by his own vice president John Nance Garner
John Nance Garner
John Nance Garner, IV , was the 32nd Vice President of the United States and the 44th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives .- Early life and family :...

. Roosevelt was defeated by an alliance of Republicans and conservative Democrats, who formed a Conservative coalition
Conservative coalition
In the United States, the conservative coalition was an unofficial Congressional coalition bringing together the conservative majority of the Republican Party and the conservative, mostly Southern, wing of the Democratic Party...

 that managed to block nearly all liberal legislation (only a minimum wage law got through). Annoyed by the conservative wing of his own party, Roosevelt made an attempt to rid himself of it; in 1938, he actively campaigned against five incumbent conservative Democratic senators; all five senators won re-election.

Under FDR, the Democratic Party became identified more closely with modern liberalism, which included the promotion of social welfare, labor unions, civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

, and the regulation of business. The opponents, who stressed long-term growth and support for entrepreneurship and low taxes, now started calling themselves "conservatives."

Coalition


Harry Truman took over after Roosevelt's death in 1945, and the rifts inside the party that Roosevelt had papered over began to emerge. Major components included the big city machines, the southern state and local parties, the far-left, and the "Liberal coalition" or "Liberal-Labor Coalition" comprising the AFL, CIO, and ideological groups such as the NAACP (representing Blacks), the American Jewish Congress
American Jewish Congress
The American Jewish Congress describes itself as an association of Jewish Americans organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad through public policy advocacy, using diplomacy, legislation, and the courts....

 (AJC), and the Americans for Democratic Action
Americans for Democratic Action
Americans for Democratic Action is an American political organization advocating progressive policies. ADA works for social and economic justice through lobbying, grassroots organizing, research and supporting progressive candidates.-History:...

 (ADA) (representing liberal intellectuals). By 1948 the unions had expelled nearly all the far-left and Communist elements.

On the right the Republicans blasted Truman’s domestic policies. “Had Enough?” was the winning slogan as Republicans recaptured Congress in 1946 for the first time since 1928.

Many party leaders were ready to dump Truman in 1948, but after General Dwight D. Eisenhower rejected their invitation they lacked an alternative. Truman counterattacked, pushing J. Strom Thurmond and his Dixiecrats out, and taking advantage of the splits inside the Republican Party. He was reelected in a stunning surprise. However all of Truman’s Fair Deal proposals, such as universal health care were defeated by the Conservative Coalition
Conservative coalition
In the United States, the conservative coalition was an unofficial Congressional coalition bringing together the conservative majority of the Republican Party and the conservative, mostly Southern, wing of the Democratic Party...

 in Congress. His seizure of the steel industry was reversed by the Supreme Court.

Foreign policy


On the far-left former Vice President Henry A. Wallace
Henry A. Wallace
Henry Agard Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States , the Secretary of Agriculture , and the Secretary of Commerce . In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party.-Early life:Henry A...

 denounced Truman as a war-monger for his anti-Soviet programs, the Truman Doctrine
Truman Doctrine
The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry S Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere...

, Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

, and NATO. Wallace quit the party, and ran for president as an independent in 1948
United States presidential election, 1948
The United States presidential election of 1948 is considered by most historians as the greatest election upset in American history. Virtually every prediction indicated that incumbent President Harry S. Truman would be defeated by Republican Thomas E. Dewey. Truman won, overcoming a three-way...

. He called for detente with the Soviet Union but much of his campaign was controlled by Communists who had been expelled from the main unions. Wallace fared poorly and help turn the anti-Communist vote toward Truman.

By cooperating with internationalist Republicans, Truman succeeded in defeating isolationists on the right and supporters of softer lines on the Soviet Union on the left to establish a Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 program that lasted until the fall of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

 in 1991. Wallace supporters and other Democrats who were farther left were pushed out of the party and the CIO in 1946–48 by young anti-Communists like Hubert Humphrey
Hubert Humphrey
Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. , served under President Lyndon B. Johnson as the 38th Vice President of the United States. Humphrey twice served as a United States Senator from Minnesota, and served as Democratic Majority Whip. He was a founder of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and...

, Walter Reuther
Walter Reuther
Walter Philip Reuther was an American labor union leader, who made the United Automobile Workers a major force not only in the auto industry but also in the Democratic Party in the mid 20th century...

, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr. was an American historian and social critic whose work explored the American liberalism of political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Schlesinger served as special assistant and "court historian"...

. Hollywood emerged in the 1940s as an important new base in the party, led by movie-star politicians such as Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, who strongly supported Roosevelt and Truman at this time.
In foreign policy, Europe was safe but troubles mounted in Asia. China fell to the Communists in 1949. Truman entered the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 without formal Congressional approval—the last time a president would ever do so. When the war turned to a stalemate and he fired General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 in 1951, Republicans blasted his policies in Asia. A series of petty scandals among friends and buddies of Truman further tarnished his image, allowing the Republicans in 1952 to crusade against “Korea, Communism and Corruption.” Truman dropped out of the presidential race early in 1952, leaving no obvious successor. The convention nominated Adlai Stevenson in 1952
United States presidential election, 1952
The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional...

 and 1956
United States presidential election, 1956
The United States presidential election of 1956 saw a popular Dwight D. Eisenhower successfully run for re-election. The 1956 election was a rematch of 1952, as Eisenhower's opponent in 1956 was Democrat Adlai Stevenson, whom Eisenhower had defeated four years earlier.Incumbent President Eisenhower...

, only to see him overwhelmed by two Eisenhower landslides.
In Congress the powerful duo of House Speaker Sam Rayburn
Sam Rayburn
Samuel Taliaferro Rayburn , often called "Mr. Sam," or "Mr. Democrat," was a Democratic lawmaker from Bonham, Texas, who served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for seventeen years, the longest tenure in U.S. history.- Background :Rayburn was born in Roane County, Tennessee, and...

 and Senate Majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 held the party together, often by compromising with Eisenhower. In 1958 the party made dramatic gains in the midterms and seemed to have a permanent lock on Congress, thanks largely to organized labor. Indeed, Democrats had majorities in the House every election from 1930 to 1992 (except 1946 and 1952). Most southern Congressmen were conservative Democrats, however, and they usually worked with conservative Republicans. The result was a Conservative Coalition
Conservative coalition
In the United States, the conservative coalition was an unofficial Congressional coalition bringing together the conservative majority of the Republican Party and the conservative, mostly Southern, wing of the Democratic Party...

 that blocked practically all liberal domestic legislation from 1937 to the 1970s, except for a brief spell 1964–65, when Johnson neutralized its power. The counterbalance to the Conservative Coalition
Conservative coalition
In the United States, the conservative coalition was an unofficial Congressional coalition bringing together the conservative majority of the Republican Party and the conservative, mostly Southern, wing of the Democratic Party...

 was the Democratic Study Group
Democratic study group
The Democratic Study Group is a legislative service organization in the United States House of Representatives. It was founded in 1959 "as a liberal counterpoint to the influence of senior conservatives and southern Democrats, it now consists of nearly all Democratic members of the House. Its...

, which led the charge to liberalize the institutions of Congress and eventually pass a great deal of the Kennedy-Johnson program.


The election of John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 in 1960
United States presidential election, 1960
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th American presidential election, held on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961, and ending January 20, 1965. The incumbent president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was not eligible to run again. The Republican Party...

 over then Vice President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 re-energized the party. His youth, vigor and intelligence caught the popular imagination. New programs like the Peace Corps harnessed idealism. In terms of legislation, Kennedy was stalemated by the Conservative Coalition
Conservative coalition
In the United States, the conservative coalition was an unofficial Congressional coalition bringing together the conservative majority of the Republican Party and the conservative, mostly Southern, wing of the Democratic Party...

. Though Kennedy's term in office lasted only about a thousand days, he tried to hold back Communist gains after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful action by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The invasion was launched in April 1961, less than three months...

 in Cuba and the construction of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

, and sent 16,000 soldiers to Vietnam to advise the hard-pressed South Vietnamese army. He challenged America in the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

 to land an American man on the moon by 1969. After the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

 he moved to de-escalate tensions with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Kennedy also pushed for civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 and racial integration
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

, one example being Kennedy assigning federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders in the south. His election did mark the coming of age of the Catholic component of the New Deal Coalition. After 1964 middle class Catholics started voting Republican in the same proportion as their Protestant neighbors. Except for the Chicago of Richard J. Daley
Richard J. Daley
Richard Joseph Daley served for 21 years as the mayor and undisputed Democratic boss of Chicago and is considered by historians to be the "last of the big city bosses." He played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F...

, the last of the Democratic machines faded away. President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

. Soon after then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 was sworn in as the new president
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

. Johnson, heir to the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 broke the Conservative Coalition
Conservative coalition
In the United States, the conservative coalition was an unofficial Congressional coalition bringing together the conservative majority of the Republican Party and the conservative, mostly Southern, wing of the Democratic Party...

 in Congress and passed a remarkable number of liberal laws, known as the Great Society
Great Society
The Great Society was a set of domestic programs in the United States promoted by President Lyndon B. Johnson and fellow Democrats in Congress in the 1960s. Two main goals of the Great Society social reforms were the elimination of poverty and racial injustice...

. Johnson succeeded in passing major civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 laws that started the racial integration in the south. At the same time, Johnson escalated the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, leading to an inner conflict inside the Democratic Party that shattered the party in the elections of 1968. Kennedy's involvement in Vietnam proved momentous, for his successor Lyndon Johnson decided to stay, and double the investment, and double the bet again and again until over 500,000 Americans were fighting in that small country.

The Johnson Years: 1963–1968



The New Deal Coalition began to fracture as more Democratic leaders voiced support for civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

, upsetting the party's traditional base of conservative Southern Democrats
Southern Democrats
Southern Democrats are members of the U.S. Democratic Party who reside in the American South. In the 19th century, they were the definitive pro-slavery wing of the party, opposed to both the anti-slavery Republicans and the more liberal Northern Democrats.Eventually "Redemption" was finalized in...

 and Catholics in Northern
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

 cities. After Harry Truman's platform gave strong support to civil rights and anti-segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 laws during the 1948 Democratic National Convention
1948 Democratic National Convention
The 1948 Democratic National Convention was held at Convention Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from July 12 to July 14, and resulted in the nominations of incumbent Harry S Truman for President and U.S. Senator Alben W...

, many Southern Democratic delegates decided to split from the Party and formed the "Dixiecrats," led by South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 governor Strom Thurmond
Strom Thurmond
James Strom Thurmond was an American politician who served as a United States Senator. He also ran for the Presidency of the United States in 1948 as the segregationist States Rights Democratic Party candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes...

 (who, as a Senator, would later join the Republican Party). However, few other conservative Democrats left the party. On the other hand, African Americans, who had traditionally given strong support to the Republican Party since its inception as the "anti-slavery party," continued to shift to the Democratic Party due to its New Deal economic opportunities and support for civil rights—largely due to New Deal relief programs, patronage offers, and the advocacy of civil rights by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

. Although Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 carried half the South in 1952 and 1956, and Senator Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

 also carried five Southern states in 1964, Democrat Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 carried all of the South except Virginia, and there was no long-term realignment until Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

's sweeping victories in the South in 1980 and 1984.

The party's dramatic reversal on civil rights issues culminated when Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

. Meanwhile, the Republicans, led again by Nixon, were beginning to implement their Southern strategy
Southern strategy
In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to the Republican Party strategy of winning elections in Southern states by exploiting anti-African American racism and fears of lawlessness among Southern white voters and appealing to fears of growing federal power in social and economic matters...

, which aimed to resist federal encroachment on the states, while appealing to conservative and moderate white Southerners in the rapidly growing cities and suburbs of the South.

The year 1968 marked a major crisis for the party. In January, even though it was a military defeat for the Viet Cong, the Tet Offensive began to turn American public opinion against the Vietnam War. Senator Eugene McCarthy
Eugene McCarthy
Eugene Joseph "Gene" McCarthy was an American politician, poet, and a long-time member of the United States Congress from Minnesota. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949 to 1959 and the U.S. Senate from 1959 to 1971.In the 1968 presidential election, McCarthy was the first...

 rallied intellectuals and anti-war students on college campuses and came within a few percentage points of defeating Johnson in the New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years , as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.Although only a...

; Johnson was permanently weakened. Four days later Senator Robert Kennedy, brother of the late president, entered the race. Johnson stunned the nation on March 31 when he withdrew from the race; four weeks later his vice-president, Hubert H. Humphrey, entered the race but did not run in any primary. Kennedy and McCarthy traded primary victories while Humphrey gathered the support of labor unions and the big-city bosses. Kennedy won the critical California primary on June 4, but he was assassinated that night. (Even as Kennedy won California, Humphrey had already amassed 1000 of the 1312 delegate votes needed for the nomination, while Kennedy had about 700.) During the 1968 Democratic National Convention
1968 Democratic National Convention
The 1968 Democratic National Convention of the U.S. Democratic Party was held at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Illinois, from August 26 to August 29, 1968. Because Democratic President Lyndon Johnson had announced he would not seek a second term, the purpose of the convention was to...

, while police and the National Guard violently confronted anti-war protesters on the streets and parks of Chicago, the Democrats nominated Humphrey. Meanwhile Alabama's Democratic governor George C. Wallace launched a third-party campaign and at one point was running second to the Republican candidate Richard M. Nixon. Nixon barely won, with the Democrats retaining control of Congress. The party was now so deeply split that it would not again win a majority of the popular vote for president until 2008.

The degree to which the Southern Democrats had abandoned the party became evident in the 1968 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...

 when the electoral votes of every former Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 state except Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 went to either Republican Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 or independent Wallace. Humphrey's electoral votes came mainly from the Northern states, marking a dramatic reversal from the 1948 election
United States presidential election, 1948
The United States presidential election of 1948 is considered by most historians as the greatest election upset in American history. Virtually every prediction indicated that incumbent President Harry S. Truman would be defeated by Republican Thomas E. Dewey. Truman won, overcoming a three-way...

 20 years earlier, when the losing Republican electoral votes were concentrated in the same states.

Transformation years: 1969–1992



Following the 1968 debacle, the McGovern-Fraser Commission
McGovern-Fraser Commission
The McGovern-Fraser Commission, formally known as Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection was a commission created in response to the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention. Soon after Richard Nixon's electoral victory, the 28-member commission was selected by Senator Fred R....

 proposed, and the Party adopted, far-reaching changes in how national convention delegates were selected. More power over the presidential nominee selection accrued to the rank and file and presidential primaries became significantly more important. In 1972, the Democrats nominated Sen. George McGovern
George McGovern
George Stanley McGovern is an historian, author, and former U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and the Democratic Party nominee in the 1972 presidential election....

 (SD) as the presidential candidate on a platform which advocated, among other things, immediate U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam (with his anti-war slogan "Come Home, America!") and a guaranteed minimum income
Guaranteed minimum income
Guaranteed minimum income is a system of social welfare provision that guarantees that all citizens or families have an income sufficient to live on, provided they meet certain conditions. Eligibility is typically determined by citizenship, a means test and either availability for the labour...

 for all Americans. McGovern's forces at the national convention ousted Mayor Richard J. Daley
Richard J. Daley
Richard Joseph Daley served for 21 years as the mayor and undisputed Democratic boss of Chicago and is considered by historians to be the "last of the big city bosses." He played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F...

 and the entire Chicago delegation, replacing them with insurgents led by Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to...

. After it became known that McGovern's running mate, Thomas Eagleton
Thomas Eagleton
Thomas Francis Eagleton was a United States Senator from Missouri, serving from 1968–1987. He is best remembered for briefly being the Democratic vice presidential nominee under George McGovern in 1972...

, had received electric shock therapy, McGovern said he supported Eagleton "1000%" but he was soon forced to drop him and find a new running mate. With his campaign stalled for several weeks McGovern finally selected Sargent Shriver
Sargent Shriver
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., known as Sargent Shriver, R. Sargent Shriver, or, from childhood, Sarge, was an American statesman and activist. As the husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, he was part of the Kennedy family, serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations...

, a Kennedy in-law who was close to Mayor Daley. On July 14, 1972, McGovern appointed his campaign manager, Jean Westwood as the first woman chair of the Democratic National Committee. McGovern was defeated in a landslide by incumbent Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, winning only Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.

Jimmy Carter (1976–1980)


The sordid Watergate scandal soon destroyed the Nixon presidency, giving the Democrats a flicker of hope. With Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

's pardon of Nixon soon after his resignation in 1974, the Democrats used the "corruption" issue to make major gains in the off-year elections. In 1976, mistrust of the administration, complicated by a combination of economic recession and inflation, sometimes called stagflation
Stagflation
In economics, stagflation is a situation in which the inflation rate is high and the economic growth rate slows down and unemployment remains steadily high...

, led to Ford's defeat by Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, a former Governor of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. Carter won as a little-known outsider by promising honesty in Washington, a message that played well to voters as he won narrowly.

Carter represented the total outsider, who promised honesty in government. He had served as a naval officer, a farmer, a state senator, and a one-term governor. His only experience with federal politics was when he chaired the Democratic National Committee's congressional and gubernatorial elections in 1974. Some of Carter's major accomplishments consisted of the creation of a national energy policy and the consolidation of governmental agencies, resulting in two new cabinet departments, the United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

 and the United States Department of Education
United States Department of Education
The United States Department of Education, also referred to as ED or the ED for Education Department, is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government...

. Carter also successfully deregulated the trucking, airline, rail, finance, communications, and oil industries (thus eliminating the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 approach to regulation of the economy), bolstered the social security
Social security
Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:...

 system, and appointed record numbers of women and minorities to significant government and judicial posts. He also enacted strong legislation on environmental protection, through the expansion of the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 in Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, creating 103 million acres (417,000 km²) of land. In foreign affairs, Carter's accomplishments consisted of the Camp David Accords
Camp David Accords
The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978, following thirteen days of secret negotiations at Camp David. The two framework agreements were signed at the White House, and were witnessed by United States...

, the Panama Canal Treaties, the creation of full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, and the negotiation of the SALT II Treaty. In addition, he championed human rights throughout the world and used human rights as the center of his administration's foreign policy.

Even with all of these successes, Carter failed to implement a national health plan or to reform the tax system, as he had promised in his campaign. Inflation was also on the rise. Abroad, the Iranians held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, and Carter's diplomatic and military rescue attempts failed. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan later that year weakened the perception Americans had of Carter. Even though he had already been defeated for re-election, Carter fortunately was able to negotiate the release of every American hostage. They were lifted out of Iran minutes after Reagan was inaugurated and Carter served as Reagan's emissary to greet them when they arrived in Germany. In 1980, Carter defeated Edward Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. Serving almost 47 years, he was the second most senior member of the Senate when he died and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in United States history...

 to gain renomination, but lost to Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 in November. The Democrats lost 12 Senate seats, and for the first time since 1954, the Republicans controlled the Senate. The House, however, remained in Democratic hands.

1980s: Battling Reaganism



Democrats who supported many conservative policies were instrumental in the election of Republican President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 in 1980. The "Reagan Democrats" were Democrats before the Reagan years, and afterward, but they voted for Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 in 1980 and 1984 (and for George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 in 1988), producing their landslide victories. Reagan Democrats were mostly white ethnics in the Northeast and Midwest who were attracted to Reagan's social conservatism on issues such as abortion, and to his strong foreign policy. They did not continue to vote Republican in 1992 or 1996, so the term fell into disuse except as a reference to the 1980s. The term is not used to describe southern whites who became permanent Republicans in presidential elections. Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster analyzed white ethnic voters, largely unionized auto workers, in suburban Macomb County, Michigan, just north of Detroit. The county voted 63 percent for Kennedy in 1960 and 66 percent for Reagan in 1984. He concluded that Reagan Democrats no longer saw Democrats as champions of their middle class aspirations, but instead saw it as being a party working primarily for the benefit of others, especially African Americans, advocacy group
Advocacy group
Advocacy groups use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems...

s of the political left, and the very poor.

The failure to hold the Reagan Democrats and the white South led to the final collapse of the New Deal coalition
New Deal coalition
The New Deal Coalition was the alignment of interest groups and voting blocs that supported the New Deal and voted for Democratic presidential candidates from 1932 until the late 1960s. It made the Democratic Party the majority party during that period, losing only to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952...

. Reagan carried 49 states against former Vice President and Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale
Walter Mondale
Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale is an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States , under President Jimmy Carter, and as a United States Senator for Minnesota...

, a New Deal stalwart, in 1984.

In response to these landslide defeats, the Democratic Leadership Council
Democratic Leadership Council
The Democratic Leadership Council was a non-profit 501 corporation that, upon its formation, argued the United States Democratic Party should shift away from the leftward turn it took in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s...

 (DLC) was created in 1985. It worked to move the party rightwards to the ideological center in order to recover some of the fundraising that had been lost to the Republicans due to corporate donors supporting Reagan. The goal was to retain left-of-center voters as well as moderates and conservatives on social issues, to become a catch all party
Big tent
In politics, a big tent party or catch-all party is a political party seeking to attract people with diverse viewpoints. The party does not require adherence to some ideology as a criterion for membership...

 with widespread appeal to most opponents of the Republicans. Despite this, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis
Michael Dukakis
Michael Stanley Dukakis served as the 65th and 67th Governor of Massachusetts from 1975–1979 and from 1983–1991, and was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. He was born to Greek immigrants in Brookline, Massachusetts, also the birthplace of John F. Kennedy, and was the longest serving...

, running not as a New Dealer but as an efficiency expert in public administration, lost by a landslide in 1988 to Vice President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

.

The South becomes Republican


For nearly a century after Reconstruction, the white South identified with the Democratic Party. The Democrats' lock on power was so strong the region was called the Solid South
Solid South
Solid South is the electoral support of the Southern United States for the Democratic Party candidates for nearly a century from 1877, the end of Reconstruction, to 1964, during the middle of the Civil Rights era....

, although the Republicans controlled parts of the Appalachian mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 and they competed for statewide office in the border states
Border states
Border states is a term referring to the European nations that won their independence from the Russian Empire after the Russian Revolution, the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and ultimately the defeat of the German Empire in World War I...

. Before 1948, southern Democrats believed that their party, with its respect for states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 and appreciation of traditional southern values, was the defender of the southern way of life. Southern Democrats warned against aggressive designs on the part of Northern liberals and Republicans and civil rights activists whom they denounced as "outside agitators."

The adoption of the strong civil rights plank by the 1948 convention and the integration of the armed forces by President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

's Executive Order 9981, which provided for equal treatment and opportunity for African-American servicemen, drove a wedge between the northern and southern branches of the party.

With the presidency of John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 the Democratic Party began to embrace the civil rights movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

, and its lock on the South was irretrievably broken. Upon signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

, President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 prophesied, "We have lost the South for a generation."

Modernization had brought factories, national businesses, and larger, more cosmopolitan cities such as Atlanta, Dallas, Charlotte
CHARLOTTE
- CHARLOTTE :CHARLOTTE is an American blues-based hard rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1986. Currently, they are signed to indie label, Eonian Records, under which they released their debut cd, Medusa Groove, in 2010. Notable Charlotte songs include 'Siren', 'Little Devils',...

, and Houston to the South, as well as millions of migrants from the North and more opportunities for higher education. Meanwhile, the cotton and tobacco economy of the traditional rural South faded away, as former farmers commuted to factory jobs. As the South became more like the rest of the nation, it could not stand apart in terms of racial segregation.

Integration and the civil rights movement caused enormous controversy in the white South, with many attacking it as a violation of states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

. When segregation was outlawed by court order and by the Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965, a die-hard element resisted integration, led by Democratic governors Orval Faubus
Orval Faubus
Orval Eugene Faubus was the 36th Governor of Arkansas, serving from 1955 to 1967. He is best known for his 1957 stand against the desegregation of Little Rock public schools during the Little Rock Crisis, in which he defied a unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court by ordering the...

 of Arkansas, Lester Maddox
Lester Maddox
Lester Garfield Maddox was an American politician who was the 75th Governor of the U.S. state of Georgia from 1967 to 1971....

 of Georgia, and, especially George Wallace
George Wallace
George Corley Wallace, Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. "The most influential loser" in 20th-century U.S. politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher, he ran for U.S...

 of Alabama. These populist governors appealed to a less-educated, blue-collar electorate that on economic grounds favored the Democratic Party, but opposed desegregation. After 1965 most Southerners accepted integration (with the exception of public schools). Believing themselves betrayed by the Democratic Party, traditional white southerners joined the new middle-class and the Northern transplants in moving toward the Republican Party. Meanwhile, newly enfranchised Black voters began supporting Democratic candidates at the 80-90-percent levels, producing Democratic leaders such as Julian Bond
Julian Bond
Horace Julian Bond , known as Julian Bond, is an American social activist and leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating...

 and John Lewis
John Lewis (politician)
John Robert Lewis is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1987. He was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee , playing a key role in the struggle to end segregation...

 of Georgia, and Barbara Jordan
Barbara Jordan
Barbara Charline Jordan was an American politician who was both a product and a leader, of the Civil Rights movement. She was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives...

 of Texas. Just as Martin Luther King had promised, integration had brought about a new day in Southern politics. The Republican Party's southern strategy
Southern strategy
In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to the Republican Party strategy of winning elections in Southern states by exploiting anti-African American racism and fears of lawlessness among Southern white voters and appealing to fears of growing federal power in social and economic matters...

 further alienated black voters from the party.

In addition to its white middle-class base, Republicans attracted strong majorities among evangelical Christians, who prior to the 1980s were largely apolitical. Exit polls in the 2004 presidential election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

 showed that Bush led Kerry by 70–30% among Southern whites, who comprised 71% of the voters. Kerry had a 90–9 lead among the 18% of Southern voters who were black. One third of the Southern voters said they were white evangelicals; they voted for Bush by 80–20.

Dovish foreign policy


The Democrats included a strong element that came of age in opposition to the Vietnam War, and remained hostile toward American military interventions. On August 1, 1990, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, led by Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, invaded
Invasion of Kuwait
The Invasion of Kuwait, also known as the Iraq-Kuwait War, was a major conflict between the Republic of Iraq and the State of Kuwait, which resulted in the seven-month long Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, which subsequently led to direct military intervention by United States-led forces in the Gulf...

 Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

. President Bush formed an international coalition and secured UN approval to expel Iraq. Congress on Jan 12, 1991 voted approval for a "Desert Storm" (a military attack) by a narrow margin, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. The vote in the House was 250–183, and in the Senate 52-47. In the Senate 42 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted yes to war, while 45 Democrats and two Republicans voted no. In the House 164 Republicans and 86 Democrats voted yes, and 179 Democrats, three Republicans and one Independent voted no. The war was short and successful, but Hussein was allowed to remain in power. The Arab countries repaid all the American military costs.

The New Democrats: 1992–2004



In the 1990s the Democratic Party revived itself, in part by moving to the right on economic policy. In 1992
United States presidential election, 1992
The United States presidential election of 1992 had three major candidates: Incumbent Republican President George Bush; Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and independent Texas businessman Ross Perot....

, for the first time in 12 years, the United States had a Democrat in the White House. During President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

's term, the Congress balanced the federal budget
Budget
A budget is a financial plan and a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is a plan for saving, borrowing and spending. A budget is an important concept in microeconomics, which uses a budget line to illustrate the trade-offs between two or more goods...

 for the first time since the Kennedy presidency and presided over a robust American economy that saw incomes grow across the board. In 1994, the economy had the lowest combination of unemployment and inflation in 25 years. President Clinton also signed into law many liberal causes, including the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases; he also signed into legislation a ban
Federal assault weapons ban
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a federal law in the United States that included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms, so called "assault weapons"...

 on many types of semi-automatic firearm
Semi-automatic firearm
A semi-automatic, or self-loading firearm is a weapon which performs all steps necessary to prepare the weapon to fire again after firing—assuming cartridges remain in the weapon's feed device or magazine...

s (which expired in 2004). His Family and Medical Leave Act, covering some 40 million Americans, offered workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-guaranteed leave for childbirth or a personal or family illness. He helped temporarily restore democracy to Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, took a strong (if ultimately unsuccessful) hand in Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, brokered an historic cease-fire in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, and negotiated the Dayton accords, which helped bring an end to nearly four years of terror and killing in the former Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

. In 1996
United States presidential election, 1996
The United States presidential election of 1996 was a contest between the Democratic national ticket of President Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and the Republican national ticket of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for President and former Housing Secretary Jack...

, Clinton became the first Democratic president to be reelected since Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 in 1944.

However, the Democrats lost their majority in both houses of Congress in 1994. Clinton vetoed two Republican-backed welfare reform
Welfare reform
Welfare reform refers to the process of reforming the framework of social security and welfare provisions, but what is considered reform is a matter of opinion. The term was used in the United States to support the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act...

 bills before signing the third, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 is a United States federal law considered to be a fundamental shift in both the method and goal of federal cash assistance to the poor. The bill added a workforce development component to welfare legislation, encouraging...

 of 1996. The tort reform
Tort reform
Tort reform refers to proposed changes in common law civil justice systems that would reduce tort litigation or damages. Tort actions are civil common law claims first created in the English commonwealth system as a non-legislative means for compensating wrongs and harm done by one party to...

 Private Securities Litigation Reform Act
Private Securities Litigation Reform Act
The United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Pub. L. 104-67, 109 Stat. 737 implemented several substantive changes affecting certain cases brought under the federal securities laws, including changes related to pleading, discovery, liability, class representation, and...

 passed over his veto. Labor unions, which had been steadily losing membership since the 1960s, found they had also lost political clout inside the Democratic Party; Clinton enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

 with Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 over their strong objections. In 1998, the Republican-led House of Representatives impeached
Impeachment of Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton, President of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on December 19, 1998, but acquitted by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of...

 Clinton on two charges; he was subsequently acquitted by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 in 1999. Under Clinton's leadership, the United States participated in NATO's Operation Allied Force
Operation Allied Force
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

 against Yugoslavia that year.

Free markets


Economist Sebastian Mallaby
Sebastian Mallaby
Sebastian Mallaby is a British-born journalist and author; and director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies and Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations . He has worked as a journalist for the Financial Times, and was a...

 argues that the Party increasingly adopted pro-business, pro free market principles after 1976:
"Free-market ideas were embraced by Democrats almost as much as by Republicans. Jimmy Carter initiated the big push toward deregulation, generally with the support of his party in Congress. Bill Clinton presided over the growth of the loosely supervised shadow financial system and the repeal of Depression-era restrictions on commercial banks."


As the DLC attempted to move the Democratic agenda to the right (to a more centrist position), prominent Democrats from both the centrist and conservative factions (such as Terry McAuliffe
Terry McAuliffe
Terence Richard "Terry" McAuliffe is a longtime leader and political advisor for the United States Democratic Party. He served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005. He served as Co-Chairman of President William Jefferson Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and also...

) assumed leadership of the party and its direction. Some liberals and progressives felt alienated by the Democratic Party, which they felt had become unconcerned with the interests of the common people and left-wing issues in general. Some Democrats challenged the validity of such critiques, citing the Democratic role in pushing for progressive reforms.

Election of 2000



During the presidential election of 2000
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

, the Democrats chose Vice President Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

 to be the party's candidate for the presidency. Gore ran against George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, the Republican candidate and son of a former President. The issues Gore championed include debt reduction, tax cuts, foreign policy, public education, global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

, judicial appointments, and affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

. Nevertheless, Gore's affiliation with Clinton and the DLC caused critics to assert that Bush and Gore were too similar, especially on free trade, reductions in social welfare, and the death penalty. Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

 presidential candidate Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

 in particular was very vocal in his criticisms. "We want to punish the Democrats, we want to hurt them, wound them," Nader's closest advisor said.

Gore won a popular plurality of over 500,000 votes over Bush, but lost in the Electoral College by four votes. Many Democrats blamed Nader's third-party spoiler role
Spoiler effect
The spoiler effect describes the effect a minor party candidate with little chance of winning has in a close election, when that candidate's presence in the election draws votes from a major candidate similar to them, thereby causing a candidate dissimilar to them to win the election...

 for Gore's defeat. They pointed to the states of New Hampshire (4 electoral votes) and Florida (25 electoral votes), where Nader's total votes exceeded Bush's margin of victory. In Florida, Nader received 97,000 votes; Bush defeated Gore by a mere 538. Controversy plagued the election, and Gore largely dropped from politics for years; by 2005 however he was making speeches critical of Bush's foreign policy.

Despite Gore's close defeat, the Democrats gained five seats in the Senate (including the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 in New York), to turn a 55–45 Republican edge into a 50–50 split (with a Republican Vice President breaking a tie). However, when Republican Senator Jim Jeffords
Jim Jeffords
James Merrill "Jim" Jeffords is a former U.S. Senator from Vermont. He served as a Republican until 2001, when he left the party to become an independent. He retired from the Senate in 2006.-Background:...

 of Vermont decided in 2001 to become an independent and vote with the Democratic Caucus, the majority status shifted along with the seat, including control of the floor (by the Majority Leader) and control of all committee chairmanships. However, the Republicans regained their Senate majority with gains in 2002 and 2004, leaving the Democrats with only 44 seats, the fewest since the 1920s.

2001–2003


In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, the nation's focus was changed to issues of national security
National security
National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II...

. All but one Democrat (Representative Barbara Lee
Barbara Lee
Barbara Jean Lee is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1998. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She is the first woman to represent that district. Lee was the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus...

) voted with their Republican counterparts to authorize President Bush's 2001 invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

. House leader Richard Gephardt and Senate leader Thomas Daschle pushed Democrats to vote for the USA PATRIOT Act
USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001...

 and the invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. The Democrats were split over entering Iraq in 2003 and increasingly expressed concerns about both the justification and progress of the War on Terrorism
War on Terrorism
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

, as well as the domestic effects, including threats to civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 and civil liberties
Civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

, from the USA PATRIOT Act
USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001...

. Senator Russ Feingold
Russ Feingold
Russell Dana "Russ" Feingold is an American politician from the U.S. state of Wisconsin. He served as a Democratic party member of the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2011. From 1983 to 1993, Feingold was a Wisconsin State Senator representing the 27th District.He is a recipient of the John F...

 was the only Senator to vote against the act.

In the wake of the financial fraud scandal of the Enron Corporation and other corporations, Congressional Democrats pushed for a legal overhaul of business accounting with the intention of preventing further accounting fraud. This led to the bipartisan Sarbanes-Oxley Act
Sarbanes-Oxley Act
The Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 , also known as the 'Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act' and 'Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act' and commonly called Sarbanes–Oxley, Sarbox or SOX, is a United States federal law enacted on July 30, 2002, which...

 in 2002. With job losses and bankruptcies across regions and industries increasing in 2001 and 2002, the Democrats generally campaigned on the issue of economic recovery. That did not work for them in 2002 as the Democrats lost a few seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. They lost three seats in the Senate (Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 as Max Cleland
Max Cleland
Joseph Maxwell Cleland is an American politician from Georgia. Cleland, a Democrat, is a disabled US Army veteran of the Vietnam War, a recipient of the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for valorous action in combat, and a former U.S. Senator...

 was unseated, Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 as Paul Wellstone died and his succeeding Democratic candidate
Walter Mondale
Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale is an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States , under President Jimmy Carter, and as a United States Senator for Minnesota...

 lost the election, and Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 as Jean Carnahan
Jean Carnahan
Jean Anne Carpenter Carnahan is an American politician and writer who served in the United States Senate from 2001 to 2002. A Democrat, she was appointed to the Senate to fill the seat of her posthumously elected husband, becoming the first woman to represent Missouri in the Senate.-Biography:Born...

 was unseated) in the Senate. While Democrats gained governorships in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 (where Bill Richardson was elected), Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 (Janet Napolitano
Janet Napolitano
Janet Napolitano is the third and current United States Secretary of Homeland Security, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She is the fourth person to hold the position, which was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the 21st...

) and Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

 (Dave Freudenthal
Dave Freudenthal
David Duane "Dave" Freudenthal , is an American politician who served as the 31st Governor of Wyoming. A Democrat, he was reelected to his second term on November 7, 2006, and announced on March 4, 2010, that he would not attempt to seek a third term as Governor.-Education and early...

), other Democrats lost governorships in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 (Jim Hodges
Jim Hodges
James Hovis "Jim" Hodges is a Democrat who served one term as the 114th Governor of South Carolina from 1999 until 2003.-Early career:...

), Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 (Don Siegelman
Don Siegelman
Don Eugene Siegelman is an American Democratic Party politician who held numerous offices in Alabama. He was the 51st Governor of Alabama for one term from 1999 to 2003...

) and, for the first time in more than a century, Georgia (Roy Barnes
Roy Barnes
Roy Eugene Barnes served as the 80th Governor of Georgia from January 1999 until January 2003. Barnes was also a candidate for Governor of Georgia in the 2010 election....

). The election led to another round of soul searching about the party's narrowing base. Democrats had 2003, when a voter recall unseated unpopular the Democratic governor of California, Gray Davis, and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

. By the end of 2003 the four largest states had Republican governors: California, Texas, New York and Florida.

Election of 2004


The 2004 campaign started as early as December 2002, when Gore announced he would not run again in the 2004 election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. Howard Dean
Howard Dean
Howard Brush Dean III is an American politician and physician from Vermont. He served six terms as the 79th Governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Although his U.S...

, former Governor of Vermont, an opponent of the war and a critic of the Democratic establishment, was the front-runner leading into the Democratic primaries. Dean had immense grassroots support, especially from the left wing of the party. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

, a more centrist figure with heavy support from the Democratic Leadership Council
Democratic Leadership Council
The Democratic Leadership Council was a non-profit 501 corporation that, upon its formation, argued the United States Democratic Party should shift away from the leftward turn it took in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s...

, was nominated because he was seen as more "electable" than Dean.

As layoffs of American workers occurred in various industries due to outsourcing
Outsourcing
Outsourcing is the process of contracting a business function to someone else.-Overview:The term outsourcing is used inconsistently but usually involves the contracting out of a business function - commonly one previously performed in-house - to an external provider...

, some Democrats (including Dean and senatorial candidate Erskine Bowles
Erskine Bowles
Erskine Boyce Bowles is an American businessman and political figure from North Carolina. He served from 2005 to 2010 as the President of the University of North Carolina system...

 of North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

) began to refine their positions on free trade, and some even questioned their past support for it. By 2004, the failure of George W. Bush's administration to find weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

 in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, mounting combat casualties and fatalities in that country, and the lack of any end point for the War on Terror were frequently debated issues in the election. That year, Democrats generally campaigned on surmounting the jobless recovery
Jobless recovery
A jobless recovery or jobless growth is an economic phenomon in which a macroeconomy experiences growth while maintaining or decreasing its level of employment...

, solving the Iraq crisis, and fighting terrorism more efficiently.

In the end, Kerry lost both the popular vote (by 3 million out of over 120 million votes cast) and the Electoral College. Republicans also gained four seats in the Senate (leaving the Democrats with only 44 seats, their fewest since the 1920s) and three seats in the House of Representatives. Also, for the first time since 1952, the Democratic leader of the Senate lost re-election. In the end, there were 3,660 Democratic state legislators across the nation to the Republicans' 3,557. Democrats gained governorships in Louisiana, New Hampshire and Montana. However, they lost the governorship of Missouri and a legislative majority in Georgia—which had long been a Democratic stronghold. Senate pickups for the Democrats included Ken Salazar
Ken Salazar
Kenneth Lee "Ken" Salazar is the current United States Secretary of the Interior, in the administration of President Barack Obama. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a United States Senator from Colorado from 2005 to 2009. He and Mel Martinez were the first Hispanic U.S...

 in Colorado and 2004 Democratic National Convention
2004 Democratic National Convention
The 2004 Democratic National Convention convened from July 26 to July 29, 2004 at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts, and nominated John Kerry and John Edwards as the official candidates of the Democratic Party for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively, in the 2004...

 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 in Illinois.

There were many reasons for the defeat. After the election most analysts concluded that Kerry was a poor campaigner. A group of Vietnam veterans opposed to Kerry called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
Swift Vets and POWs for Truth
Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, formerly known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth , was a political group of United States Swift boat veterans and former prisoners of war of the Vietnam War, formed during the 2004 presidential election campaign for the purpose of opposing John Kerry's candidacy...

 undercut Kerry's use of his military past as a campaign strategy. Kerry was unable to reconcile his initial support of the Iraq War with his opposition to the war in 2004, or manage the deep split in the Democratic Party between those who favored and opposed the war. Republicans ran thousands of television commercials to argue that Kerry had flip-flopped on Iraq. When Kerry's home state of Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

, the issue split liberal and conservative Democrats and independents (Kerry publicly stated throughout his campaign that he opposed same sex marriage, but favored civil unions). Republicans exploited the same-sex marriage issue by promoting ballot initiatives in 11 states that brought conservatives to the polls in large numbers; all 11 initiatives passed. Flaws in vote-counting systems may also have played a role in Kerry's defeat (see 2004 U.S. presidential election controversy and irregularities). Senator Barbara Boxer
Barbara Boxer
Barbara Levy Boxer is the junior United States Senator from California . A member of the Democratic Party, she previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives ....

 of California and several Democratic U.S. Representatives (including John Conyers
John Conyers
John Conyers, Jr. is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1965 . He is a member of the Democratic Party...

 of Michigan) raised the issue of voting irregularities in Ohio when the 109th Congress first convened, but they were defeated 267–31 by the House and 74-1 by the Senate. Other factors include a healthy job market, a rising stock market, strong home sales, and low unemployment.

After the 2004 election, prominent Democrats began to rethink the party's direction, and a variety of strategies for moving forward were voiced. Some Democrats proposed moving towards the right to regain seats in the House and Senate and possibly win the presidency in the election of 2008
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

; others demanded that the party move more to the left and become a stronger opposition party. One topic of discussion was the party's policies surrounding reproductive rights
Reproductive rights
Reproductive rights are legal rights and freedoms relating to reproduction and reproductive health. The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows:...

. Rethinking the party's position on gun control became a matter of discussion, brought up by Howard Dean
Howard Dean
Howard Brush Dean III is an American politician and physician from Vermont. He served six terms as the 79th Governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Although his U.S...

, Bill Richardson, Brian Schweitzer
Brian Schweitzer
Brian David Schweitzer is an American politician from the U.S. state of Montana. Schweitzer is its 23rd and current governor, serving since January 2005. Schweitzer currently has one of the highest approval ratings among governors in the nation, with polls regularly showing a rating of above 60...

 and other Democrats who had won governorships in states where Second Amendment
Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second...

 rights were important to many voters. In What's the Matter with Kansas?
What's the Matter with Kansas?
What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America is a book by American journalist and historian Thomas Frank, which explores the rise of populist anti-elitist Conservatism in the United States, centering on the experience of Kansas, Frank's native state...

,
commentator Thomas Frank
Thomas Frank
Thomas Frank is an American author, journalist and columnist for Harper's Magazine. He is a former columnist for the Wall Street Journal, authoring "The Tilting Yard" from 2008 to 2010....

 wrote the Democrats needed to return to campaigning on economic populism.

Howard Dean and the Fifty-state strategy, 2005–2007


These debates were reflected in the 2005 campaign for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
Democratic National Committee
The Democratic National Committee is the principal organization governing the United States Democratic Party on a day to day basis. While it is responsible for overseeing the process of writing a platform every four years, the DNC's central focus is on campaign and political activity in support...

, which Howard Dean
Howard Dean
Howard Brush Dean III is an American politician and physician from Vermont. He served six terms as the 79th Governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Although his U.S...

 won over the objections of many party insiders. Dean sought to move the Democratic strategy away from the establishment, and bolster support for the party's state organizations, even in red states (the Fifty-state strategy).

When the 109th Congress convened, Harry Reid
Harry Reid
Harry Mason Reid is the senior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party, he has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 2007, having previously served as Minority Leader and Minority and Majority Whip.Previously, Reid was a member of the U.S...

, the new Senate Minority Leader, tried to convince the Democratic Senators to vote more as a bloc on important issues; he forced the Republicans to abandon their push for privatization of Social Security. In 2005, the Democrats retained their governorships in Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 and New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, electing Tim Kaine
Tim Kaine
Timothy Michael "Tim" Kaine is a Virginia politician. Kaine served as the 70th Governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, and was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2009 to 2011...

 and Jon Corzine
Jon Corzine
Jon Stevens Corzine is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and of MF Global, and a one time American politician, who served as the 54th Governor of New Jersey from 2006 to 2010. A Democrat, Corzine served five years of a six-year U.S. Senate term representing New Jersey before being elected Governor...

, respectively. However, the party lost the mayoral race in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, a Democratic stronghold, for the fourth straight time.

With scandals involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff
Jack Abramoff
Jack Abramoff is an American former lobbyist and businessman. Convicted in 2006 of mail fraud and conspiracy, he was at the heart of an extensive corruption investigation that led to the conviction of White House officials J. Steven Griles and David Safavian, U.S. Representative Bob Ney, and nine...

, as well as Duke Cunningham
Duke Cunningham
Randall Harold Cunningham , usually known as Randy or Duke, is United States Navy veteran, convicted felon, and former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from California's 50th Congressional District from 1991 to 2005.Cunningham resigned from the House on November 28,...

, Tom DeLay
Tom DeLay
Thomas Dale "Tom" DeLay is a former member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Texas's 22nd congressional district from 1984 until 2006. He was Republican Party House Majority Leader from 2003 to 2005, when he resigned because of criminal money laundering charges in...

, Mark Foley
Mark Foley scandal
The Mark Foley scandal, which broke in late September 2006, centers on soliciting e-mails and sexually suggestive instant messages sent by Mark Foley, a Republican Congressman from Florida, to teenaged boys who had formerly served as congressional pages...

, and Bob Taft
Bob Taft
Robert Alphonso "Bob" Taft II is an Ohio Republican Party politician. He was elected to two terms of office as the 67th Governor of the U.S. state of Ohio between 1999-2007. After leaving office, Taft started working for the University of Dayton beginning August 15, 2007.-Personal background:Taft...

, the Democrats used the slogan "Culture of corruption
Culture of corruption
Culture of corruption was a political slogan used by the U.S. Democratic Party to refer to a series of political scandals involving Republican politicians during the first two years of George W...

" against the Republicans during the 2006 campaign. Negative public opinion on the war in Iraq, widespread dissatisfaction over the ballooning federal deficit, and the inept handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster dragged down President Bush's job approval ratings.

As a result of the 2006 midterm elections
United States general elections, 2006
The 2006 United States midterm elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. All United States House of Representatives seats and one third of the United States Senate seats were contested in this election, as well as 36 state governorships, many state legislatures, four territorial...

, the Democratic Party became the majority party in the House of Representatives and its caucus in the United States Senate constituted a majority when the 110th Congress convened in 2007. The Democrats had spent twelve successive years as the minority party in the House before the 2006 mid-term elections. The Democrats also went from controlling a minority of governorships to a majority. The number of seats held by party members likewise increased in various state legislatures, giving the Democrats control of a plurality of them nationwide. No Democratic incumbent was defeated, and no Democratic-held open seat was lost, in either the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, or with regards to any governorship.

The Democratic Party's electoral success has been attributed by some to running conservative-leaning Democrats against at-risk Republican incumbents, while others claim that running more populists and progressive candidates has been the source of success. Exit polling suggested that corruption was a key issue for many voters.

In the 2006 Democratic caucus leadership elections, Democrats chose Representative Steny Hoyer
Steny Hoyer
Steny Hamilton Hoyer is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1981. The district includes a large swath of rural and suburban territory southeast of Washington, D.C.. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

 of Maryland for House Majority Leader and nominated Representative Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011...

 of California for speaker
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

. Senate Democrats chose Harry Reid
Harry Reid
Harry Mason Reid is the senior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party, he has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 2007, having previously served as Minority Leader and Minority and Majority Whip.Previously, Reid was a member of the U.S...

 of Nevada for United States Senate Majority Leader. Pelosi was elected as the first female House speaker at the commencement of the 110th Congress
110th United States Congress
The One Hundred Tenth United States Congress was the meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, between January 3, 2007, and January 3, 2009, during the last two years of the second term of President George W. Bush. It was composed of the Senate and the House of...

. The House soon passed the measures that comprised the Democrats' 100-Hour Plan
100-Hour Plan
The 100-Hour Plan was a United States Democratic Party political strategy detailing the actions the party pursued upon assuming leadership of the 110th Congress on January 4, 2007. The strategy was announced before the 2006 midterm elections. Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged that her party would...

.

2008 presidential election


The 2008 Democratic presidential primaries
Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2008
The 2008 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 U.S. presidential election...

 left two candidates in close competition: Illinois Senator Obama and New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Both had won more support within a major American political party than any previous African American or female candidate. Before official ratification at the 2008 Democratic National Convention
2008 Democratic National Convention
The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. The convention was held in Denver,...

, Obama emerged as the party's presumptive nominee. With President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 of the Republican Party ineligible for a third term and the Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 not pursuing his party's nomination, Senator John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 of Arizona more quickly emerged as the GOP nominee.

Throughout most of the 2008 general election, polls showed a close race between Obama and John McCain. However, Obama maintained a small but widening lead over McCain in the wake of the liquidity crisis of September 2008.

On November 4, Obama defeated McCain by a significant margin in the Electoral College; the party also made further gains in the Senate and House, adding to its 2006 gains.

The Obama era: 2009–present




On January 20, 2009, Obama was inaugurated
Inauguration of Barack Obama
The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States took place on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. The inauguration, which set a record attendance for any event held in Washington, D.C., marked the commencement of the four-year term of Barack Obama as President and Joe...

 as the 44th president of the United States in a ceremony attended by nearly 2 million people, the largest congregation of spectators ever to witness the inauguration of a new president. While an outpouring of optimism and good feeling greeted Obama's inauguration, the administration would soon see its economic stimulus plan
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA and commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act, is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009 and signed into law on February 17, 2009, by President Barack Obama.To...

 challenged by Republican governors and conservative and libertarian activists in the Tea Party movement
Tea Party movement
The Tea Party movement is an American populist political movement that is generally recognized as conservative and libertarian, and has sponsored protests and supported political candidates since 2009...

. As Obama and the Democratic Congress began to pursue unprecedented health care reforms
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress...

, the Tea Party movement gained strength and Obama's approval ratings started to dip. Republicans appeared poised to hand the president's party a hefty defeat in the 2010 congressional elections when a predicted economic recovery failed to materialize. Democrats lost 63 seats
United States House of Representatives elections, 2010
The 2010 United States House of Representatives elections, also known as the 2010 midterm elections, were held on November 2, 2010, at the midpoint of President Barack Obama's first term in office. Voters of the 50 U.S. states chose 435 U.S. Representatives. Voters of the U.S...

 and control of the House of Representatives that year, but retained the Senate with a diminished majority.

The aftermath of the stormy election season would reveal lingering resentments on both sides. In January 2011, a Democratic congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords
Gabrielle Giffords
Gabrielle Dee "Gabby" Giffords is an American politician. A Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, she has represented since 2007. She is the third woman in Arizona's history to be elected to the U.S. Congress...

, was targeted for assassination in a deadly shooting
2011 Tucson shooting
On January 8, 2011, a mass shooting occurred near Tucson, Arizona. Nineteen people were shot, six of them fatally, with one other person injured at the scene during an open meeting that U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was holding with members of her constituency in a Casas Adobes Safeway...

 in Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

 that claimed the lives of six people. Giffords was shot in the head but survived. Some Democrats sought to blame the Tea Party for creating a toxic political climate that would lead to such a tragedy, but Obama garnered praise for calling on both sides
Barack Obama Tucson memorial speech
President of the United States Barack Obama delivered a speech at the Together We Thrive: Tucson and America memorial on January 12, 2011, held in the McKale Center on the University of Arizona campus....

 to practice civility in discussing the possible political causes for the shooting.

Intense budget negotiations in the divided 112th Congress, wherein Democrats resolved to fight Republican demands for decreased spending and no tax hikes, threatened to shutdown the government
Government shutdown
In U.S. politics, a government shutdown is a situation in which the government stops providing all but "essential" services. Typically, services that continue despite a shutdown include police, fire fighting, postal service, armed forces, utilities, air traffic management, and corrections.- Causes...

 in April 2011, and later spurred fears that the United States would default on its debt. Continuing economic and budgetary woes would also be felt at the state level, where public-sector union
Public-sector trade union
A public-sector trade union is a trade union which primarily represents the interests of employees within public sector organizations...

s, a key Democratic constituency, battled Republican efforts to limit their collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

 powers in order to save money. This led to sustained protests
2011 United States public employee protests
In February 2011, a series of public employee protests began in the United States against proposed legislation which would weaken the power of labor unions. By March, eighteen states had proposed legislation which would remove some collective bargaining powers from unions, along with another five...

 by public-sector employees and walkouts by sympathetic Democratic legislators in states like Wisconsin
2011 Wisconsin protests
The 2011 Wisconsin protests were a series of demonstrations in the state of Wisconsin in the United States beginning in February involving at its zenith as many as 100,000 protestors opposing the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill. Subsequently, anti-tax activists and other conservatives, including tea...

 and Ohio.

Abroad, the image of the United States improved slightly in Europe and the Middle East, but the president was criticized for "passive" responses to crises such as the 2009 Iranian protests and the 2011 Egyptian revolution
2011 Egyptian revolution
The 2011 Egyptian revolution took place following a popular uprising that began on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 and is still continuing as of November 2011. The uprising was mainly a campaign of non-violent civil resistance, which featured a series of demonstrations, marches, acts of civil...

. Additionally, liberal and Democratic activists objected to Obama's decisions to send reinforcements to Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

, resume military trials of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, and to help enforce a no-fly zone
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

 over Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 during that country's civil war
2011 Libyan civil war
The 2011 Libyan civil war was an armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security...

. But the demands of anti-war advocates were heeded when Obama followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw combat troops
Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq
The withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq has been a contentious issue within the United States since the beginning of the Iraq War. As the war has progressed from its initial 2003 invasion phase to a multi-year occupation, U.S. public opinion has turned in favor of troop withdrawal...

 from Iraq.

See also

  • Democratic National Convention
    Democratic National Convention
    The Democratic National Convention is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years since 1832 by the United States Democratic Party. They have been administered by the Democratic National Committee since the 1852 national convention...

  • List of Democratic National Conventions
  • American election campaigns in the 19th century
    American election campaigns in the 19th Century
    In the 19th century, a number of new methods for conducting American Election Campaigns developed in the United States. For the most part the techniques were original, not copied from Europe or anywhere else...

  • History of the United States Republican Party
    History of the United States Republican Party
    The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...


Secondary sources

  • American National Biography (20 volumes, 1999) covers all politicians no longer alive; online and paper copies at many academic libraries. Older Dictionary of American Biography.
  • Dinkin, Robert J. Campaigning in America: A History of Election Practices. Greenwood 1989)
  • Remini, Robert V.
    Robert V. Remini
    Robert Vincent Remini is a historian and a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of numerous works about President Andrew Jackson and the Jacksonian Era....

    . The House: The History of the House of Representatives (2006), extensive coverage of the party
  • Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur Meier ed. History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–2000 (various multivolume editions, latest is 2001). For each election includes history and selection of primary documents. Essays on some elections are reprinted in Schlesinger, The Coming to Power: Critical presidential elections in American history (1972)
  • Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr. ed. History of U.S. Political Parties (1973) multivolume
  • Shafer, Byron E. and Anthony J. Badger, eds. Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775–2000 (2001), most recent collection of new essays by specialists on each time period:
    • includes: "State Development in the Early Republic: 1775–1840" by Ronald P. Formisano; "The Nationalization and Racialization of American Politics: 1790–1840" by David Waldstreicher; "'To One or Another of These Parties Every Man Belongs;": 1820–1865 by Joel H. Silbey; "Change and Continuity in the Party Period: 1835–1885" by Michael F. Holt; "The Transformation of American Politics: 1865–1910" by Peter H. Argersinger; "Democracy, Republicanism, and Efficiency: 1885–1930" by Richard Jensen; "The Limits of Federal Power and Social Policy: 1910–1955" by Anthony J. Badger; "The Rise of Rights and Rights Consciousness: 1930–1980" by James T. Patterson, Brown University; and "Economic Growth, Issue Evolution, and Divided Government: 1955–2000" by Byron E. Shafer

Before 1932

  • Oldaker, Nikki, Samuel Tilden the Real 19th President (2006)
  • Allen, Oliver E. The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall (1993)
  • Baker, Jean. Affairs of Party: The Political Culture of Northern Democrats in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (1983).
  • Cole, Donald B. Martin Van Buren And The American Political System (1984)
  • Bass, Herbert J. "I Am a Democrat": The Political Career of David B. Hill 1961.
  • Craig, Douglas B. After Wilson: The Struggle for the Democratic Party, 1920–1934 (1992)
  • Earle, Jonathan H. Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824–1854 (2004)
  • Eyal, Yonatan. The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party, 1828–1861 (2007) 252 pp.
  • Flick, Alexander C. Samuel Jones Tilden: A Study in Political Sagacity 1939.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties, 1790s–1840s (1983)
  • Gammon, Samuel Rhea. The Presidential Campaign of 1832 (1922)
  • Hammond, Bray. Banks and Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War (1960), Pulitzer prize. Pro-Bank
  • Jensen, Richard. Grass Roots Politics: Parties, Issues, and Voters, 1854–1983 (1983)
  • Keller, Morton. Affairs of State: Public Life in Late Nineteenth Century America 1977.
  • Kleppner, Paul et al. The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1983), essays, 1790s to 1980s.
  • Kleppner, Paul. The Third Electoral System 1853–1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures (1979), analysis of voting behavior, with emphasis on region, ethnicity, religion and class.
  • McCormick, Richard P. The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era (1966)
  • Merrill, Horace Samuel. Bourbon Democracy of the Middle West, 1865–1896 1953.
  • Nevins, Allan
    Allan Nevins
    Allan Nevins was an American historian and journalist, renowned for his extensive work on the history of the Civil War and his biographies of such figures as President Grover Cleveland, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller.-Life:Born in Camp Point, Illinois, Nevins was educated at...

    . Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage 1934. Pulitzer Prize
    Pulitzer Prize
    The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

  • Remini, Robert V. Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party (1959)
  • Rhodes, James Ford. The History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 8 vol (1932)
  • Sanders, Elizabeth. Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers, and the American State, 1877–1917 (1999). argues the Democrats were the true progressives and GOP was mostly conservative
  • Sarasohn, David
    David Sarasohn
    David Sarasohn is a columnist and managing editor for The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Oregon. Prior to joining The Oregonian, Sarasohn was a writer with Oregon magazine and a professor of history at Reed College. He earned a PhD in American History at UCLA...

    . The Party of Reform: Democrats in the Progressive Era (1989), covers 1910–1930.
  • Sharp, James Roger. The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837 (1970)
  • Silbey, Joel H. A Respectable Minority: The Democratic Party in the Civil War Era, 1860–1868 (1977)
  • Silbey, Joel H. The American Political Nation, 1838–1893 (1991)
  • Stampp, Kenneth M.
    Kenneth M. Stampp
    Kenneth Milton Stampp , Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley , was a celebrated historian of slavery, the American Civil War, and Reconstruction...

     Indiana Politics during the Civil War (1949)
  • Welch, Richard E. The Presidencies of Grover Cleveland 1988.
  • Whicher, George F. William Jennings Bryan and the Campaign of 1896 (1953), primary and secondary sources.
  • Wilentz, Sean
    Sean Wilentz
    Robert Sean Wilentz is the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of History at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1979.-Background:Born in 1951 in New York City, where his father Eli and uncle Ted owned a well-known Greenwich Village bookstore, the Eighth Street Bookshop, Wilentz earned...

    . The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005), highly detailed synthesis.
  • Woodward, C. Vann. Origins of the New South, 1877–1913 1951. online edition at ACLS History ebooks

Since 1932

  • Allswang, John M. New Deal and American Politics (1970)
  • Andersen, Kristi. The Creation of a Democratic Majority, 1928–1936 (1979)
  • Barone, Michael
    Michael Barone
    Michael Barone may refer to:*Michael Barone , US political expert and conservative commentator*J. Michael Barone , host of the American Public Media programs Pipedreams, The New Releases, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra...

    . The Almanac of American Politics 2010: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts (2009), covers all the live politicians.
  • Burns, James MacGregor. Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (1956)
  • Cantril, Hadley and Mildred Strunk, eds. Public Opinion, 1935–1946 (1951), compilation of public opinion polls from US, UK, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere.
  • Dallek, Robert. Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President (2004)]
  • Fraser, Steve, and Gary Gerstle, eds. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930–1980 (1990), essays.
  • Hamby, Alonzo. Liberalism and Its Challengers: From F.D.R. to Bush (1992).
  • Jensen, Richard. Grass Roots Politics: Parties, Issues, and Voters, 1854–1983 (1983)
  • Jensen, Richard. "The Last Party System, 1932–1980," in Paul Kleppner, ed. Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1981)
  • Judis, John B. and Ruy Teixeira
    Ruy Teixeira
    Ruy Teixeira is an American political scientist and commentator who has written several books on various topics in political science and political strategy. Most recently, he co-wrote with John Judis The Emerging Democratic Majority , a book arguing that Democrats in the United States are...

    . The Emerging Democratic Majority (2004) demography is destiny
    • "Movement Interruptus: September 11 Slowed the Democratic Trend That We Predicted, but the Coalition We Foresaw Is Still Taking Shape" The American Prospect Vol 16. Issue: 1. January 2005.
  • Kennedy, David M. Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 (2001), synthesis
  • Kleppner, Paul et al. The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1983), essays, 1790s to 1980s.
  • Ladd Jr., Everett Carll with Charles D. Hadley. Transformations of the American Party System: Political Coalitions from the New Deal to the 1970s 2nd ed. (1978).
  • Lamis, Alexander P. ed. Southern Politics in the 1990s (1999)
  • Martin, John Bartlow. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois: The Life of Adlai E. Stevenson (1976),
  • Moscow, Warren. The Last of the Big-Time Bosses: The Life and Times of Carmine de Sapio and the Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall (1971)
  • Palermo, Joseph. In His Own Right: The Political Odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy (2001).
  • Patterson, James T. Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 (1997) synthesis.
  • Patterson, James T. Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush vs. Gore (2005) synthesis.
  • Patterson, James. Congressional Conservatism and the New Deal: The Growth of the Conservative Coalition in Congress, 1933–39 (1967)
  • Plotke, David. Building a Democratic Political Order: Reshaping American Liberalism in the 1930s and 1940s (1996).
  • Nicol C. Rae; Southern Democrats Oxford University Press. 1994
  • Sabato, Larry J. Divided States of America: The Slash and Burn Politics of the 2004 Presidential Election (2005), analytic.
  • Sabato, Larry J. and Bruce Larson. The Party's Just Begun: Shaping Political Parties for America's Future (2001), textbook.
  • Shafer, Byron E. Quiet Revolution: The Struggle for the Democratic Party and the Shaping of Post-Reform Politics (1983)
  • Shelley II, Mack C. The Permanent Majority: The Conservative Coalition in the United States Congress (1983)
  • Sundquist, James L. Dynamics of the Party System: Alignment and Realignment of Political Parties in the United States (1983)

Popular histories

  • Ling, Peter J. The Democratic Party: A Photographic History (2003).
  • Rutland, Robert Allen. The Democrats: From Jefferson to Clinton (1995).
  • Schlisinger, Galbraith. Of the People: The 200 Year History of the Democratic Party (1992)
  • Taylor, Jeff. Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy (2006), for history and ideology of the party.
  • Witcover, Jules. Party of the People: A History of the Democrats (2003)

Primary sources

  • Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr. ed. History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–2000 (various multivolume editions, latest is 2001). For each election includes history and selection of primary documents.
  • The Digital Book Index includes some newspapers for the main events of the 1850s, proceedings of state conventions (1850–1900), and proceedings of the Democratic National Conventions. Other references of the proceedings can be found in the linked article years on the Listhi of Democratic National Conventions.


Campaign text books
The national committees of major parties published a "campaign textbook" every presidential election from about 1856 to about 1932. They were designed for speakers and contain statistics, speeches, summaries of legislation, and documents, with plenty of argumentation. Only large academic libraries have them, but some are online: