History of the Democratic Party

Jefferson, Thomas 1800 Rembrandt Peale
President Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party. In 1798, the “party of the common man” was officially named the Democratic-Republican Party, and in 1800 it elected Jefferson as the first Democratic President of the United States.

The election of John Quincy Adams in 1824 was highly contested and led to a four-way split among Democratic-Republicans. A result of the split was the emergence of Andrew Jackson as a national leader. The Jacksonian Democrats created the national convention process, the party platform, and reunified the Democratic Party with Jackson’s victories in 1828 and 1832.

The Party held its first National Convention in 1832. In 1844, the National Convention simplified the Party’s name to the Democratic Party. In 1848, the National Convention established the Democratic National Committee, now the longest running political organization in the world.

The donkey is the unofficial symbol of the Democratic Party. When Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828, his opponents tried to label him a “jackass” for his populist views and his slogan, “Let the people rule.” Jackson used the donkey on his campaign posters. Thomas Nast, a famous political cartoonist, used the donkey in an 1870 Harper’s Weekly cartoon and increased the symbol’s popularity.

Today, the Democratic Party throughout the country is generally seen as being under the control of special interest groups pushing ideologies and agendas viewed as “corrupt,” “antisocial,” and “extremist” by many fair-minded, principled Americans. Under these special conditions, ethical, principled Democrats are reminded that they should not think that being a Democrat somehow compels them to endorse or support whatever ideology or agenda being pushed by the clique momentarily in control of the party.

As with membership in any political party, membership in the Democratic Party simply commits a citizen to work FOR their nation, FOR their people, and FOR their moral values and ethical principles within this party. Regardless of which political party citizens belong to, they should never “check in” or leave behind their values or their principles at the party hall door.

Civic-minded, principled citizens understand that they need to be well represented within all major political parties, for obvious, politically practical reasons. Smart citizens never “marry” any political party, or allow themselves to be herded into any political party, because they understand fully that political parties are merely instruments to achieve an end, they are not an end in themselves. However, many Americans believe that to be consistent with their pro-diversity rhetoric, the special interest groups momentarily in control of the Democratic Party need to accept, tolerate and respect Democrats who disagree with their ideologies and agendas. Otherwise, how can they pretend to present themselves as “tolerant,” “inclusive,” “accepting,” and “pluralistic”?

Past Presidents from the Democratic Party include Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, James Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton.

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