The Democratic Party is a United States political party. From 1833 to 1856, it was opposed chiefly by the Whig Party. From 1856 onward its main opposition has come from the Republican Party.

On January 15, 1870 a political cartoon appearing in Harper's Weekly titled "A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion" by Thomas Nast, for the first time symbolized the Democratic Party as a donkey. Since then, the donkey has been widely used a symbol of the party, though unlike the Republican elephant, the donkey has never been officially adopted as the party's logo.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Democratic Party Presidents
3 Presidential candidates
4 External link


The Democratic Party traces its origin to the Democratic-Republican Party founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1793. The Democratic Party itself was formed from a faction of the Democratic-Republicans, led by Andrew Jackson. Following his defeat in the election of 1824 despite having a majority of the popular vote, Andrew Jackson set about building a political coalition strong enough to defeat John Quincy Adams in the election of 1828. The coalition that he built was the foundation of the subsequent Democratic party.

In the 1850s, following the disintegration of the Whig Party, the southern wing of the Democratic Party became increasingly associated with the continuation and expansion of slavery, in opposition of the newly formed Republican Party. Democrats in the northern states opposed this new trend, and at the 1860 nominating convention the party split and nominated two candidates (see U.S. presidential election, 1860). As a result, the Democrats went down in defeat - part of the chain of events leading up to the Civil War. After the war, the Democrats were a shattered party, but eventually gathered enough support to elect reform candidate Grover Cleveland to two terms in the presidency.

In 1896 the Democrats chose William Jennings Bryan over Cleveland as their candidate, who then lost to William McKinley. The Democrats did not regain the presidency until Woodrow Wilson guided it to a Progressive platform in 1912. The Republicans again took the lead in 1920 by championing laissez-faire regulatory policies. The stock market crash in 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression set the stage for a more interventionist government and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) won a landslide election in 1932, campaigning on a platform of "relief, recovery, and reform".

FDR's New Deal programs focused on job-creation through public works projects as well as on social welfare programs such as Social Security. The political coalition of labor unions, minorities, liberals, and southern whites (the New Deal Coalition) allowed the Democrats to control the government for much of the next 30 years, until the issue of civil rights divided conservative southern whites from the rest of the party (see Dixiecrat).

The political pendulum swung away from the Democrats with the election of Republican president Ronald Reagan in 1980. By 1980 the country was ready for a change in political vision after a decade of poor economic performance and several embarrassments abroad including the Vietnam War and the Iranian hostage crisis at the end of the Carter presidency. Riding on Reagan's coattails, the Republican Party successfully positioned itself as the party of national strength, gaining 34 seats in the House and gaining control of the Senate for the first time since 1955.

The Democratic Leadership Council organized by elected Democratic leaders has in recent years worked to position the Party towards a centrist position. It still retains a powerful base of left-of-center supporters however, as like the Republicans, the Democrats are generally a catch all party with widespread appeal to most opponents of the Republicans. This includes organized labour, educators, environmentalists, gays, pro-choicers, and other opponents of the social conservatism practiced by many Republicans.

In the 1990s the Democratic Party re-invigorated itself by providing a successful roadmap to economic growth. Led by Bill Clinton, the Democrats championed a balanced federal budget and job growth through a strong economy. 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 NAFTA free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico over the strong objection of the unions.

In the 2000 Presidential election the party's left wing splintered somewhat under the candidacy of Al Gore. Some former Democratic voters felt the party was becoming too centerist, and moving away from its traditional ways of political liberalism and progressivism. The openly left-wing Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in turn managed to take many votes away from Al Gore in many traditionally liberal states; an event which is often cited as one of the leading causes of Al Gore's defeat.

Since the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, the Democrats have been faced with a new political puzzle as the nation's focus has now changed to issues of national security and homeland security, with the Democrats positioning themselves against war in Iraq and advocating a less aggressive policy.

Democratic Party Presidents

  1. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
  2. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
  3. James Knox Polk (1845-1849)
  4. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
  5. James Buchanan (1857-1861)
  6. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889)
  7. Grover Cleveland (1893-1897)
  8. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
  9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945)
  10. Harry S Truman (1945-1953)
  11. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
  12. Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969)
  13. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
  14. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Presidential candidates

External link