“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” ― George Washington’s Farewell Address [1796]

Washington advice went unheeded when Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson two members of Washington’s cabinet who disliked each other formed different political parties. The first United States political Party was Thomas Jefferson’s it became known as the Democratic-Republicans. While Andrew Hamilton’s followers took the name Federalists, a term that originally meant support of the new constitution. Jefferson’s eventually became the strongest.

John Adams was a Federalist and got elected in 1796 however he was crushed in the election of 1800 by Thomas Jefferson, who was the first in a long string of Republican Presidents. The Federalist Party by 1815 had secede to exist and American was a one party country.

In the 1820’s Andrew Jackson and his followers became known as the Democrats and replaced Democratic-Republicans as the dominant party. The Whigs emerged in opposition to Jackson but did not last very long. This is the Democratic party of today.

The Whigs were essentially the banker’s party and they emerged to fight Jackson’s campaign against the banks. The had two presidents elected to office who died in 1840 Willian Henry Harrison who died within 30 days and in 1848 Zachery Taylor was elected president who died after a year and a half of food poisoning. The people who replaced Harrison and Taylor, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore did little to progress the Whig Party.


Both Democrats and Whigs tip-toed around the slavery issue, both were national parties didn’t want them to split over Southern and Northern allegiances. When the parties’ inevitably split, the modern Republican Party formed. The opposed the expansion of slavery, supported the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican elected to the Presidency in 1860. The Republican Party is the only third party to become and major party.

After the Civil War, the current two-party system became entrenched    

George Washington