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2016 Postmortem

In reply to the discussion: What's all this then? [View all]

Hortensis

(58,785 posts)
20. The Democratic Party was actually founded by Jefferson
Sat Jun 18, 2016, 09:20 AM
Jun 2016

and Madison as the Democratic-Republican Party. It started out in 1792 as just the "Republican Party," but conservatives made fun of the notion of "democracy" and insisted on calling them Democrats, so they adopted the term proudly and became the Democratic-Republican Party fighting for liberal, enlightenment principles of equality and government of, by and for the people.

In the era of Andrew Jackson, the party split over internal differences. The Jacksonian wing lived mainly outside the power centers of the northeast, were committed to principles of democracy and equality (yes, only for white men) and opposed the development of a class system and centralized, elite power, including business/financial. They didn't have much education and didn't make public education any kind of priority. The Jacksonians rechartered as the Democratic Party, and it has continued on under that name from then to now.

The Whig wing was also still mostly "left" but committed to an educated populace and did supported development of an elite elevated by education, as well as continuation of the wealthy-enabling central bank Jackson loathed and feared.

Ultimately the Whig Party fell apart, and some liberals and moderates formed into a new anti-slavery Republican Party, which Whig Lincoln joined. After the Civil War, the liberals or liberal descendants of all three groups, Democrat, Whig, Republican, came together once again in the Democratic Party as the Republican became the conservative party.

I agree that the greatness of the Democratic Party springs from its original Jeffersonian-Madison heritage, not so much from Jackson's era, though his strong leadership and commitment to protecting democracy for the people ultimately did much to ensure that that heritage would continue.

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