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Parties > Party 100

About the Democratic Party
The Democratic Party is the oldest continuing party in the United States, officially founded in 1828. The Democratic-Republican Party, which had become the sole dominant party after the war of 1812, ran four presidential candidates in the 1824 election, including Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford (the official Party nominee), and Henry Clay. While Jackson won the popular vote (with 41.8%), no candidate won an electoral college majority and the House of Representatives selected Adams to be president. Angered that the popular vote had been ignored, Jackson and Senator Martin Van Buren formed a new party which they saw as representing the will of the people—the Democratic Party, which trounced Adams in the next Presidential Election. The Democratic Party at its inception was against central government power (including abolishing the Bank of the United States) as its key platform. It was not sympathetic to native Americans and opposed the abolition of slavery. In the run up to the Civil War, the party became sharply divided between Northern and Southern Democrats, the former believing US territories should vote on whether or not to allow slavery within their borders and the latter believing slavery should be allowed regardless. After the civil war, because many Southerners associated the Republican party with the Union Army and reconstruction, the Democratic Party became the political home for most white Southerners. The party took positions supportive of Jim Crow laws and denying full rights to African Americans, and remained the dominant party in the South for decades. Meanwhile, the Republican Party became nationally dominant in the post-civil war era. The Democratic Party nominated William Jennings Bryan to run for President in 1896, who had economically left-wing positions against big business and in support of Unions, farmers, and an expanded role of government in protecting working class people (including by social welfare and regulation). While Bryan lost, his ideas have remained influential in the Democratic Party even to today. In 1929, with the crash of the stock market and the great depression, the dominance of Republicans in post-civil war American Politics was solidly crushed by the Democrats, who were led by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only president to be elected more than twice. Roosevelt championed progressive economic policies such as Social Security, Medicare, and the New Deal which created huge government spending and programs to help and employ working people. This solidified the economically left-wing position of the Democratic Party, and created an era of national Democratic dominance, which lasted for about a half-century. While most Southerners of both parties opposed ending segregation, and most Northerners supported it, it was southern Democratic president Lyndon Johnson who signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act into law, solidifying the party’s position as a socially left party. Today, the party remains economically and socially to the left of the Republican Party.

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