Political Parties


How political parties started?

There is no mention of political parties in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, George Washington, one of the framers of the Constitution, was a fierce critic of political parties and distrusted them. 

Washington said in his Farewell Address in 1796: "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."

During America’s formative years, two rival factions rose to challenge how the government should be structured. Each faction competed for the control of Congress, the states, and the presidency. Alexander Hamilton and his followers wanted a strong central government, and in 1787, they began referring to themselves as Federalists. Those that opposed the Federalists structure of government (anti-Federalists) aligned themselves with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, calling themselves Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party.  

Democratic Party

"The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the United States and among the oldest political parties in the world. It traces its roots to 1792, when followers of Thomas Jefferson adopted the name Republican to emphasize their antimonarchical views." Learn More Here

Republican Party

"By February 1854, anti-slavery Whigs had begun meeting in the upper midwestern states to discuss the formation of a new party. One such meeting, in Wisconsin on March 20, 1854, is generally remembered as the founding meeting of the Republican Party."  Learn More Here

The donkey and the elephant

The donkey was first used in Andrew Jackson's 1828, a Democrat, presidential campaign. When his adversaries disrespectfully referred to him as a jackass during the election, Jackson embraced the name and adopted the donkey (jackass) as his symbol. The Democratic Party saw the donkey as a symbol of the common man and kept it as the Party’s mascot.

The Republican Party adopted the elephant as its mascot after seeing a political cartoon in Harper’s Weekly in 1874 showing a donkey wearing lion’s skin scaring off the other animals, of which one animal was an elephant with the words “the republican vote” written on it.

It was just that simple. Nothing inspiring or symbolic about choosing their mascots. The choice was made out of spite.

Gerrymandering Explained

Gerrymandering is a practice of political parties to establish a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating congressional district boundaries.