DEMOCRATIC - REPUBLICAN PARTY
DEMOCRATIC - REPUBLICAN PARTY, The (IN U. S. HISTORY), the political party whose theory has aimed at the increase of direct popular control over the government, the widening of the right of suffrage, the limitation of the powers of the federal government, and the conservation of the powers reserved to the state governments by the constitution. (See STATE RIGHTS, under STATE SOVEREIGNTY.) It is therefore a strict construction party (see CONSTRUCTION, I.) and has always operated as a check upon the nationalization of the United States. (But see CONSTRUCTION, III.) It at first (in 1792-3) took the name of the republican party, which more properly belongs to its present possessors (in 1881; see REPUBLICAN PARTY), and was generally known by that name until about 1828-30. Upon its absorption of the French or democratic faction, in 1793-6, it took the official title of the democratic-republican party, which it still claims. About 1828-30 its nationalizing portion having broken off and taken the name of "national republican" (see WHIG PARTY, I.), the particularist residue assumed the name of "democrats," which had been accepted since about 1810 as equivalent to "republicans," and by which they have since been known. Some little confusion, therefore, has always been occasioned by the similarity in name between the strict construction republican party of 1793 and the broad construction republican party of 1856.
—I.: 1789-93 (Formative Period). Though the forces which have always tended to the complete nationalization of the American Union were in operation at the adoption of the constitution, their influence was as yet by no means general. The mass of the people was thoroughly particularist, interested mainly in the fortunes of their state governments, and disposed to look upon the new federal government as a creature of convenience only, to be accepted under protest until the exercise of its functions should prove burdensome or unpleasant. The convention of 1787 had wisely and skillfully evaded the popular feeling by couching the constitution in very general terms, excepting only its one bold proviso that the constitution, and laws and treaties made in pursuance of it, should be "the supreme law of the land," an idea which the people at large scarcely comprehended or took at its full measure. But, despite the convention's scrupulous care, despite the general influence of Washington and the Pennsylvania influence of Franklin in its favor, and despite the "grinding necessities" of the case, the final ratification of the constitution was due more to the unskillfulness of the opposition (see ANTI-FEDERAL PARTY) than to any popular desire for an energetic federal government, and it left the principle of opposition overthrown but not eradicated. During the first session of the 1st congress (March 4-Sept. 29, 1789), however, those members who had been in principle anti-federalist were content to allow the organization of the new government by the federalists to proceed with little opposition (see FEDERAL PARTY, I.), and the results so clearly and so promptly demonstrated the convenience of the federal government that the late antifederal party were soon only anxious to drop their obnoxious name, and to allow their opposition to the constitution to be forgotten.
—The planters of the south, and particularly of Virginia, had generally supported the change of government and the early measures of the federal party, induced partly by the influence of Madison and partly by the compromises by which the constitution had been made acceptable to them. (See COMPROMISES, I.-III.) The general poverty and financial embarrassment, which in the north had produced Shays' rebellion (see CONFEDERATION, ARTICLES OF), had borne still more heavily upon the south. In both sections it had been the moving cause of stay laws, tender laws, and laws to hinder the collection of debts by British creditors; but in the south the certain revival of ancestral claims for debt, which before the revolution had made British merchants practically owners of many of the southern estates, but which had been suspended and almost forgotten during the revolution and the confederation, would have made almost any general settlement of debt by the federal government particularly unpopular, as a fore-shadowing of individual settlements thereafter. When Hamilton, early in 1790 (see FEDERAL PARTY, I.), finally, and almost from sheer necessity, fell back upon commercial interest as the stock upon which to graft his nationalizing measures, he necessarily alienated the whole south, which was not only particularist but exclusively agricultural, except in a few isolated spots on the seaboard. The difference between the two sections was as yet only in degree, not in kind. Both were mainly agricultural; both were particularist; neither possessed manufactures; but the south, which had far less banking and commerce than the north, and therefore, in Jefferson's words, "owed the debt while the north owned it," first felt the repulsion to the Hamiltonian policy. The opposition to his plan for settling the public debt was mainly to its commercial aspect; the opposition to his project of a national bank in the following year was of a distinct party nature, and was based upon that strict construction of the constitution which was always afterward to be the party's established theory. (See BANK CONTROVERSIES, II.) In 1791-2, therefore, we may consider the anti-federal party, which had so warmly opposed the adoption of the constitution, as rehabilitated into a party, as yet without a name, which was to maintain the binding force of the exact and literal language of the constitution, and to oppose any enlargement of the federal government's powers by interpretation.
—But the new party took no pride whatever in its descent, and at first disowned any kinship with its immediate ancestor of unpleasant memory. The first authoritative claim of the party name occurs in Jefferson's letter of May 13, 1792, to Washington, in which he says: "The republican party, who wish to preserve the government in its present form, are fewer in number [than the monarchical federalists]. They are fewer even when joined by the two, three or half dozen anti-federalists, who, though they dare not avow it, are still opposed to any general government; but, being less so to a republican than to a monarchical one, they naturally join those whom they think pursuing the lesser evil." In this way Jefferson, who was already the extra-congressional leader of the new party, endeavored to account for his anti-federalist support by making the controversy out to be between republicanism and monarchy or aristocracy, between government by the people and government of the people. In one sense Jefferson's charge against the federalists was true, and as true in kind, though not in degree, against his own party as against the federalists. In both parties the abler leaders assumed the direct initiative in party management to an extent which would be intolerable, if openly asserted, at the present time; and the mass of the people, separated by distance, by slow and tedious communication, and by lack of national feeling, were content to exercise a power of revision, not of inception, in politics. In effect, "the people," in the broad sense which universal suffrage and nominating conventions have made familiar to us, was no original power in American politics until after 1820. We may, however, take Jefferson's charge in another sense, as implying that his party was more in unison with the feelings and prejudices of the people, and hence was a more popular party than the federalists. In this sense he was right; from 1790 until his death there was probably hardly a day, with the exception of the year 1798, when Jefferson was not supported by a real majority of the American people. (But see SUFFRAGE.)
—Before the close of the year 1792 we must regard the republican party as fairly formed. Its general basis was a dislike to the control exercised by any government not directly affected by the vote of the citizen on whom the laws operated; a disposition to regard the federal government, which could only indirectly and slowly be reached by dissatisfied citizens, as possibly a second avatar of royalty; and an opposition to the federalist, or Hamiltonian, measures of a national bank, a national excise, a protective tariff, a funding system for the debt, and to all measures in general tending to benefit the commercial or creditor classes. But all these were local and temporary phases of opposition, from which circumstances might at any moment convert any or all the opposition; Jefferson and Madison alone labored assiduously to establish the doctrine of a strict construction of the constitution as a more permanent and reliable basis of party organization.
—II.: 1793-1801. Washington's proclamation of neutrality between France and her enemies (see GENET, CITIZEN) had two important results in politics. It intensified the feeling of the republicans that they were the only anti-monarchical party in America, and that the federalists, under whose influence Washington was supposed to be acting, were by nature and practice enemies of a republic, either in America or in France, of the people, and of liberty and the rights of man; and it thus obscured for the time the newly established basis of political difference. But it also brought to the surface a class of small politicians, more French than American, who undertook to ride into power solely by means of the wave of popular enthusiasm for the new French republic, and without any reference whatever to American constitutional questions. For these the name of republican was too tame. They assumed the name of democrat, and modeled their organization upon that of the Jacobin clubs of Paris, from which, indeed, the Charleston democrats claimed and received recognition as an affiliated branch. The democratic clubs, assuming the right to speak for the people, began at once the familiar Jacobin process of branding every opponent and every indifferent spectator of events as an open or concealed enemy of "the people," and of elevating the whims and passions of associations of private citizens, disguised under the name of a devotion to liberty, to a rank higher than constitution or laws. To federalists, whose theory had always been the supremacy of law, even in the hours of the revolution, the political antics of the democratic clubs, their contempt for the constituted authorities, their fraternal banquets, their adoption of the modest French title of "citizen," their eccentricities in dress and manners, seemed rather horrible than ludicrous, and their mildest emotion, contempt, is well marked by Griswold's story of Mrs. Washington, who, finding a trace of dirt upon her wall after a reception, cried out angrily, "It was no federalist: none but a filthy democrat would mark a place on the wall with his good-for-nothing head in that manner." Nor did the original republicans feel much more real sympathy for the newly evolved democrats; they accepted them as allies, as they had accepted the professed anti-federalists, but were careful to mark the distinction between the republicans, who opposed Hamilton mainly because of his commercial and nationalizing tendencies, and the democrats, who opposed him solely for love of France and of their vague idea of liberty. But the condescension of the republicans was without reason; the democratic faction brought with it that enthusiasm, that personal acquaintance with the prejudices of the people, and that tendency toward political intercourse with the people, which finally made the republican theory the basis of a great and successful party. Jefferson and Madison did the thinking and theorizing; Bache, Callender, Freneau and other democratic leaders translated the theory into popular language.
—The second presidential election (1792) can hardly be considered as a test of party strength. In 1789, as well as in 1792, Washington had been unanimously elected president. In 1789 John Adams, the federalist representative, had been chosen vice-president by the votes of New England and Pennsylvania, and part of Virginia's vote (see ELECTORAL VOTES); in 1792 the votes of Vermont and Rhode Island, which states then first took part in the election, and of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina, were added to the federalist column. From this time almost every political influence (see FEDERAL PARTY, I.) was enlisted in favor of the republicans. When the 3rd congress was organized in 1793, their candidate for speaker of the house was elected by a majority of 10 votes, and this initial success, and the temporary reverse which followed it, tended strongly to weld the democrats and republicans into one party, whose formal name was compounded as the democratic-republican party. This tendency was assisted by the disturbance in Pennsylvania in 1794. (See WHISKY INSURRECTION.) This outbreak was in reality only a symptomatic feature of the general lack of national feeling in the country at the time, brought to a head by border lawlessness and habitual freedom from restraint. The republicans, however, regarded it is an explosion designedly provoked by Hamilton in order to secure to himself and to his party the credit of suppressing it; and the democratic clubs looked upon it with a general complacency, as a spirited example of the proper assertion of individual liberty, menaced by an oppressive law. (See SECESSION.) Its suppression, Washington's indignant charge that it had been fomented by "self-created societies" inimical to the federal government, and still more the downfall of Robespierre and the original Jacobin club of Paris, made the democratic clubs unpopular and they soon disappeared. But their members, while subsiding into the mass of the republican party, colored its policy for the next few years with a strong French cast; and the federalists persisted in giving the name of democrat, as a term of contempt, equivalent to Jacobin or revolutionist, to every republican.
—In the 4th congress, (1795-7), the senate was federalist. The house was doubtful, but though Dayton, an anti-British federalist, was chosen speaker, the doubtful vote generally inclined to the republican side. In the first session came the debate upon the appropriations necessary for fulfilling Jay's treaty, in which the republicans were defeated by a small majority. But the debate, and still more the course of discussion outside of congress, showed the difference between republican and democratic methods. The democrats attacked Washington personally with a virulence almost beyond quotation. (See JAY'S TREATY; WASHINGTON, GEORGE.) The republicans generally preserved a distinguished consideration for the president, while they evidently felt it to be a gross injustice that the sacred person of Washington should always be in their adversaries' end of the lists, and that they should always be compelled to reach around the president in order to attack federalist men and measures. Their feelings were thus fairly expressed nearly 40 years afterward, in 1830, by Edward Livingston, who had been a republican congressman from New York, 1795-1801: "As Washington was the head of the government, one of their [the federal party's] greatest objects was to cover all their proceedings with the popularity of his name, and to force the republican party either to approve all their measures, or, by opposing them, incur the odium of being unfriendly to the father of his country." This feeling was natural, and shows only that the time had passed when it was necessary for Washington to keep the political peace by interposing between the parties. Gross as were the attacks upon him, they came from Bache, Leib, Duane, and the other noisy and frequently silly leaders of the professed democrats; and it is creditable to the republicans proper that their opposition to Washington's administration was legitimate, that their public utterances were decorous and affectionate to the president personally, and that even in their private correspondence we can find nothing worse than an impatience for his approaching retirement from politics, and for a free and hand-to-hand struggle with the federal party.
—The first disputed presidential election (1796) resulted in the election of John Adams as president and Thomas Jefferson as vice-president (see ELECTORS): but the result was eminently encouraging to the republicans. Adams was only elected by the whim of two southern electors (one in North Carolina and one in Virginia in voting for him as well as for Jefferson; the republicans otherwise had complete control of the south, excepting Maryland and Delaware, which were usually opposed to the larger neighboring state of Virginia, and they had gained Pennsylvania in the north. They had only to persevere in opposition, with the certainty of a swift advance in the other middle states. (See FEDERAL PARTY, I.) In this they were greatly assisted by the hostilities with France in 1798-9, which at first seemed fatal to all their prospects. The execution of the alien and sedition laws could hardly have been better calculated for increasing the republican and decreasing the federalist vote in the all-important middle states (see X. Y. Z. MISSION, ALIEN LAWS): and the general American indignation against France, together with the evident conversion of that country into a military dictatorship, closed the mouths even of the democrats, and forced the republicans back from their abnormal foreign dependence to their original theoretical position upon American constitutional questions. It was an opportune moment for the thinkers of the party, and Jefferson and Madison seized it to formulate the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions in 1798, whose spirit has always since been the basis of the party's existence. (But see CONSTRUCTION, III.) The spirit of the resolutions is, in brief, that the state governments are the foundation of the American political system; that their powers are unlimited, except by state constitutions and by the constitution of the United States; that the federal government, on the contrary, has no powers except those which are granted by the constitution; that, therefore, wherever there is a fair doubt as to the location of a power, the presumption must be that it is in the state, not in the federal government; that the powers of the federal government are to be construed strictly according to the terms of the grant in the constitution; that where the federal government assumes ungranted powers, its acts are unauthoriative and are to be opposed peaceably and lawfully by the legislative, executive and judicial machinery of the state governments, which the people have retained for that purpose (see also NULLIFICATION); and that as most of such assumptions of power are political in their nature, and beyond the purview of the supreme court, the proper remedy and safeguard is in frequent conventions of the states, such as formed the constitution, as its most authoritative exponent. The great political error of the resolutions, the denial of the power of the federal government to define the boundaries of its powers, was the inevitable result of the particularist tendency of the time, and has been constantly modified since by the gradual nationalization of the country and its parties. (See CONSTRUCTION, III.; KENTUCKY AND VIRGINIA RESOLUTIONS; STATE SOVEREIGNTY.)
—Aside from the general constitutional principles above enumerated, there were other republican characteristics arising partly from them, and partly from the nature or agricultural prejudices of the men who held them. The republicans were opposed to debt, to brilliant administrations and large expenditures of public moneys, and to a navy, which they commonly called "the great beast with the great belly," on account of its expense; they considered that government which was nearest to the citizen to be most worthy of his affection, and held every remove of government from popular control to be in some measure unrepublican and mischievous; they wished that the judiciary, as well as most other public servants, should be elective for short terms and easily removable by the people; they wished that "every man who would fight or pay" should vote, and that the suffrage should no longer be limited by any money or property qualification, as it then was in most of the states; they preferred direct to indirect taxes, as the surest means of compelling the citizen to watch the expenditures of government critically, and Jefferson even wished to deny to the government the power of borrowing money; and, in general, they believed that the country should rely most upon individual enterprise, far less upon the powers of the state governments, and least of all upon the federal government.
—III.: 1801-25. Holding these principles, the republican party, in the election of 1800, at last gained the state of New York and the control of the government (see DISPUTED ELECTIONS, I.), which it retained for 24 years. Not only were the president and vice-president republicans; the 7th congress was for the first time completely republican, the senate 18 to 14, and the house 69 to 36. The judiciary was still federalist, but that department of the government also was gradually transferred to the dominant party. (See JUDICLARY.) Nor was the political revolution confined to the federal government; the first shock had shown how unsubstantial was the previous federalist control of the middle states, and had overthrown them as a party almost everywhere. Before the close of the year 1801 every state in the Union had a republican governor and legislature, excepting Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and of these Connecticut only was reliably firm in the federalist faith. So overwhelming was the sudden republican success that in several states divisions began to appear in their ranks. In New York the Livingstons and Clintons united against Burr and drove him and his adherents out of the regular party fold. (See BURR, AARON.) In Pennsylvania and Virginia radical and conservative republicans began to make their appearance, the main object of the former being to limit the terms of office of the judiciary, an object which seems quite legitimate now, but in 1801-5 was considered revolutionary in the highest degree. The federalists, however, were unable to reap any party advantage from these republican dissensions, and before the close of Jefferson's first term they even lost, for the time, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
—The great event of Jefferson's first term, was his acquisition of Louisiana. (See ANNEXATIONS, I.) For this acquisition of foreign soil no warrant can be found in a strict construction of the constitution, but Jefferson's excuse seems to have lain in the ultra-democratic idea of the power of the people to temporarily override even the organic law in a case of extreme necessity. His action was certainly ratified by almost universal popular approval, and, together with the reduction of governmental expenses, the steady payment of the public debt, and the great prosperity of the country, insured him a re-election in 1804. The only electoral votes against him were those of Connecticut and Delaware, with two from Maryland.
—Jefferson's second term was by no means so brilliant. The party's determination to pay the national debt rapidly led to a systematic refusal to put the country into any posture of defense against the attacks upon its commerce by Great Britain. (See EMBARGO, II.) In 1803-4 the party adopted as its policy the building of small gunboats for coast defense, as a substitute for the more costly navy which was absolutely essential for the protection of American commerce all over the world (see GUNBOAT SYSTEM), it thus deliberately committed itself to the dogma, on which it had always acted in reality, that ocean commerce deserved, and should receive, no protection at the hands of agricultural representatives; and from this point it advanced, when commerce grew louder in its complaints, to a command, by act of congress, that American commerce should quit the ocean altogether, and thus relieve the dominant party from anxiety or responsibility on its account. (See EMBARGO, III.) A more false and foolish policy could hardly have been devised. It was the very error which had overthrown the federal party in 1800, contempt for the interest of the middle states, and it would have also overthrown the republican party in 1812 but for the growth of the western or agricultural portions of those states, which saved Pennsylvania to the party and elected Madison in 1812. (See FEDERAL PARTY, II.)
—During all the period from 1800 until 1812 the republican party showed a constant disposition to exercise powers of the federal government which it had denied while the government was under federalist control. Its acquisition of Louisiana, its recognition of the legal existence of the national bank (see BANK CONTROVERSIES, II.), and its summary prohibition of American commerce, were all alike unwarranted by a strict construction of the constitution. Three distinct influences were at work in this direction. 1. The party's "strict construction" originally had a basis not visible on the surface. It had opposed the Hamiltonian broad construction mainly because this was designed for the benefit of a special interest, commerce, and where the supposed interests of agriculture were in question constitutional scruples ceased to apply. 2. It was impossible that all representatives from agricultural districts should be equally consistent in their adherence to strict construction; but the party name of federalist had by this time come to be almost entirely equivalent to commercial, and all members not devoted to that interest were compelled to accept the name of republican, no matter what their principles might be. The consequence was, particularly after a short experience of the embargo had shown its ruinous effects on agriculture as well as commerce, the growth within the republican party of an element which soon came to control the party, and which was prepared to assert the power of the federal government in national interests rather after the Hamiltonian than the Jeffersonian theory. Of this new element Henry Clay and Story (afterward justice of the supreme court) were representatives. 3. Above all, 20 years' experience of the practical workings of the constitution had raised the political standard of the country at large many degrees toward nationalization, as would be most plainly shown by a comparison of the management of the war of 1812 with that of the revolution; and the republican change of practice only reflected, as a popular party must, the altered feelings of the people. (See CONSTRUCTION, III.)
—During this period Randolph, of Virginia, and a small section of personal adherents, commonly called "quids," abandoned the dominant party. (See RANDOLPH, JOHN.) Their revolt, however, was rather against the "Virginia influence" (see VIRGINIA), which controlled the party, than against the party's principles. Their design was mainly to prevent Jefferson from securing the election of Madison as his successor, and for this purpose they at first endeavored to bring out Monroe, who was dissatisfied with his treatment while minister to England, by the administration, as a competitor for the nomination in 1808. In 1812 they were more successful in obtaining a leader in the person of De Witt Clinton, of New York, a state whose politicians had long felt a jealousy of the Virginia influence. His defeat, and the close of the war of 1812, finally brought them back again to the republican party.
—The failure of the restrictive system in 1810 (see EMBARGO, III.) left the republicans at a complete loss: their most trusted weapon had broken in their hands. The meeting of congress in November, 1811, shows a remarkable change; the party, abandoning the Jeffersonian ground of peace at any price, had become a war party, under the lead of Peter B. Porter, of New York, Langdon Cheves, William Lowndes, and John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, Henry Clay, of Kentucky, and Felix Grundy, of Tennessee, in the house; and William H. Crawford, of Georgia, in the senate. All these were comparatively new men, and but little in sympathy with Madison, who was averse to war; but Madison (see ELECTORS) was coerced into heading the reorganized party, and war was declared (see CONVENTION, HARTFORD), June 18, 1812. It can hardly be seriously asserted that the war was unnecessary; it had been necessary for at least six years, and the hundredth part of the provocation for it would now bring war within six weeks. The error of the republicans lay in the manner of its management; in their utter refusal, during the six years given them for preparation, to provide an adequate navy; in their obstinate attempt to carry the war into Canada; and in their endeavor, by relying upon loans almost exclusively, to use as a crutch the very commercial interest notoriously hostile to the war. The result was the temporary but almost entire downfall of the national credit, and a forced peace which secured none of the objects for which war was declared, and which was only partially covered by the smoke of brilliant sea-fights and of Jackson's victory at New Orleans. But the war, and the six years of restriction which preceded it, gave an impetus to the common feeling of nationality from New York to New Orleans (see UNITED STATES); and in politics, while it modified the dogma of strict construction, it insured to the republican party the future control of the government. At last Jefferson's prophecy of 1804, that "the federalists, eo nomine, are gone forever," was fulfilled. (See FEDERAL PARTY, II.)
—The force of the republican party, strongest while confined, visibly decreased as it spread over a larger surface. In 1816 it established a new national bank, modeled closely after Hamilton's (see BANK CONTROVERSIES III.); and in the same year imposed a slight protective duty upon woolen and cotton goods. This last measure was entirely opposed to the strict construction of the constitution, which holds that congress has power to lay tariffs only to "pay the debts" of the United States, and "to provide for the common defense and general welfare" of the United States, and that any departure from this principle, for the benefit of a particular interest, is beyond the powers of congress. But manufactures and manufacturers had now grown to be a power, though as yet a small one; they had given the coup de grace to federalism in New England; they had grown upon the republican restrictive system; and they now looked to the republican party for its continuance. In 1819-20 the house passed a more protective tariff, which the senate rejected, and in 1824 a still more pronouncedly protective tariff became law.
—Only Massachusetts, Connecticut and Delaware had voted against Monroe and Tompkins in 1816; in 1820 (see ELECTORAL VOTES) they also at last yielded and became nominally republican states. A few inveterate federalists still denounced the republican party as managed by "John Holmes [a congressman from Maine], Felix Grundy, and the devil"; the majority declared themselves satisfied with the "Washington-Monroe policy," professed themselves "federal-republicans," and proclaimed an "era of good feeling." Of course this was only a surrender at discretion, not a conversion. Differences in human nature, which are at the root of party differences, are not so easily eradicated; and it soon appeared that the white flag had been raised with unnecessary haste, and that the all-powerful republican party contained the elements of a new party which was to be more broad constructionist than the federal party itself.
—In 1819-20 occurred two events for which the dominant party was responsible. One, the acquisition of Florida, was the necessary sequence to the purchase of Louisiana. (See ANNEXATIONS, II.) The other, the admission of Missouri as a slave state (see COMPROMISES, IV.), had a most important bearing on the party's history. 1. It proved that the dominant party was no homogeneous party at all, and that the "era of good feeling" was a sham; for the members from the two sections, north and south, differed on a fundamental constitutional question with an intensity which can only mark a party difference. 2. It was the first appearance of the error into which the strict construction party was finally entrapped—the half-way application of its doctrine of strict construction to the subject of slavery. In Missouri territory slavery was first localized by the very loosest possible construction of the constitution, which nowhere authorizes any such violation of man's natural rights as the establishment of slavery, under federal auspices, where it did not exist at the formation of the constitution; when once localized, the strictest possible construction of the constitution was applied to prevent congress from interfering with slavery in the state of Missouri. This reversible process of construction, begun by accident in the case of Louisiana territory, was applied with more design in the case of Missouri, and its success there encouraged its application to the territories of Arkansas and Florida, and the state of Texas, until its failure in the case of Kansas. 3. The compromise of the Missouri case committed the northern members of the strict construction party to the policy of ignoring the discussion of slavery, while it left the southern members free to spread slavery by loose construction, as above stated. In this way the former element of the party was forced for 40 years to cover the tracks of its southern associate until its refusal to do so longer split the party in 1860. In this respect the party's history only shows the danger arising from a failure to apply its basic principle consistently.
—In 1824 the delusion of an era of good feeling broke to pieces. John Quincy Adams was chosen president. (See DISPUTED ELECTIONS, II.) His electoral vote was simply a repetition of the votes of the former federal party (see ELECTORAL VOTES), with the addition of a few scattering votes in new states, and the larger part of the always doubtful vote of New York. His inaugural address, in its emphatic approbation of a system of internal improvements, would alone have forced a strict construction opposition to him; and the fact seems to be that, while the peculiar circumstances of his election were the nominal ground, the real ground of the opposition to him lay in the principles of broad construction unhesitatingly avowed and ably supported by him.
—IV.: 1825-50. The opposition to president Adams, ending in the election of Andrew Jackson as president in 1828, was the culmination of a change in the political condition of the United States which had been proceeding for many years, but most rapidly since 1810. In the older states suffrage had always been limited by property qualifications of varying amounts; in the newer states it was given to all white male citizens over 21. This change reacted upon the older states; Maryland in 1810, Connecticut in 1818, New York in 1821, and Massachusetts in 1822, either by amendments or by new constitutions, abolished their property qualifications, and in the few states which still retained them they were now only nominal in amount or in enforcement. The dam, through which this current of democracy had burst, was not so high, nor was the force of the current so strong, as to greatly endanger the electoral system, but it was sufficient in all but six states in 1824, and in every state but one in 1828, to take the choice of electors from the legislatures and to give it to the people (see ELECTORS), and it was sufficient also to make Andrew Jackson president. Benton's idea that the election of 1828 was solely a rebuke of the result of the election of 1824, is a politician's error; it does not account for the new men who swarmed into public life everywhere about that time, for the horrified disgust of the former leaders of both parties at Washington at the "millennium of the minnows," "the triumphant reign of king mob," or for the chasm which yawns between the political life of 1820 and that of 1829. The truth is, that in 1829 the people first assumed control of the governmental machinery which had been held in trust for there since 1789, and that the party and administration which then came into power was the first in our history which represented the people without restriction and with all the faults of the people.
—Both parties claimed the name of republicans until after the election of 1828, the supporters of Adams being the "administration wing," and those of Jackson the "opposition." But the word "national" soon became a favorite addition to the titles of Adams newspapers, and passed thence to the official name of the Adams party (see WHIG PARTY, I.); while the opposition, after using for a time the name of "Jackson men." soon came to assert a special title to the name of democrat, though they still formally used the name of republican, but never with the addition of national. The new democratic party, when it elected Jackson, had but one controlling aim—the election of Jackson; to thus, political principles were subordinate. In its ranks were included protectionists, internal improvement men, supporters of the bank of the United States, and men of every shade and variety of political opinion. Jackson himself, before his election, had been in no sense opposed to protection, to internal improvements, or to the bank; but after his election his drift toward a strict construction of the constitution was hastened by the fact that all his national republican opponents, and particularly Clay, were broad constructionists, and by the inherited and natural tendencies of his southern supporters. Jackson's first and most urgent duty was to give tone and discipline to his party, and this he did with military precision. In the north the offices under control of the national appointing power were for the first time used as party instrumentalities, as they had been used for 30 years in New York (see VAN BUREN, MARTIN; ALBANY REGENCY; NEW YORK; CIVIL SERVICE), by the dismissal of opponents, and the appointment of supporters, of the administration. The new proscriptive system undoubtedly strengthened the party in the north, by attracting to it the interested services of local leaders, and, aided by the system of nominating conventions soon after introduced, it reacted upon opposing parties and compelled them to adopt it also; its evil effect, the evolution of a controlling class of small politicians, whose only trade is the production of party hatred, still waits for correction. In the south the extreme southern party had only supported Jackson because of the loss of their chosen leader, Crawford (see CRAWFORD, WM. H.), but a large part of it, headed by John C. Calhoun, the vice-president, still affected an independence which ill suited the discipline of party. or the temper of Jackson; he therefore broke off relations with Calhoun in 1830, broke up his cabinet in 1831 and removed the Calhoun members from it, and in 1832-3, when South Carolina undertook to make the doctrine of state sovereignty practical, he was able to apply so sudden and severe a pressure to the politicians of that state that they were very willing to retire from an untenable position under the cover afforded by the good nature of congress. (See NULLIFICATION.) For his success in this instance, however, he was much indebted to his popularity in other southern states, due particularly to his action in Indian affairs (see CHEROKEE CASE), which left South Carolina to face him alone.
—The first message of Jackson, Dec. 8, 1829, took the strict construction ground, which has already been noticed, upon the subject of the tariff, that it should be regulated solely with a design, 1, to obtain revenue "to pay the debts of the United States," and 2, "to provide for the common defense and general welfare" by laying duties to retaliate upon nations which protect their own manufactures, or by laying duties to protect those manufactures which are essential in war. May 27, 1830, in his veto of the Maysville road bill, the president also took the strict construction view of the powers of congress as to internal improvements, holding that appropriations for that purpose, if confined to local or state improvements, were unconstitutional, and, if more general or national, were usually injurious and always to be cautiously attempted. In both these questions the theory of the party has always been in perfect harmony with Jackson's views, but its practice has very often been inconsistent because of the difficulty of controlling the interests or feelings of individual members. Of this we find in Jackson's own case too many instances for special mention. Throughout the whole of his first term he was compelled to make unprecedented use of the veto power to defeat bills for internal improvements passed by the national republicans with the assistance of a part of the democrats. (See VETO.)
—Before the first half of Jackson's first term was over, he had brought order out of the party chaos, and had re-established the party on a basis of strict construction and in a state of strict discipline, with the exception of the impracticable nullificationists of the south, who remained in opposition for about 12 years. This process had not been completed without driving from the party many voters who were only "Jackson men," not strict constructionists; but, on the other hand, it attracted a larger number of former federalists who were not sufficiently loose constructionist to agree with the advanced doctrines of the whigs, or national republicans, and who, therefore, fell into the democratic party, just as many whigs did at the formation of the republican party in 1856. In May, 1832, the party held its first national convention, at Baltimore, indorsed the nomination to the presidency which several legislatures had offered to Jackson, and for the vice-presidency nominated Martin Van Buren, who had supplanted Calhoun in the confidence both of the president and the party. In the election of 1832 the democratic candidates were successful, receiving 219 of the 288 electoral votes. In 1828 they had carried the entire south (except Delaware and half of Maryland's vote), the entire west (Ohio, Indiana and Illinois), and Pennsylvania and half of New York's vote in the middle states. In 1832 they gained Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and the rest of New York's vote, and lost Kentucky, which thenceforth followed the fortunes of Clay and the whig party. (See ELECTORAL VOTES.)
—As soon as the party had been restored to its legitimate political basis, it was inevitable that it should come into conflict with the bank of the United States, whose charter was to expire in 1836. It was doubly bound to oppose the re-charter of the bank: 1, as a strict construction party, it was compelled to take the views laid down by Jefferson in 1791 (see BANK CONTROVERSIES, II.); and 2, as a popular party, it necessarily held that the public servants of the United States must be human beings, open to impeachment and punishment in case of misbehavior, and that the creation of a private corporation to do the duties of public servants and to enjoy to its own profit and without interest the custody of the public funds, was wrong, unfair and unwise, even if it were lawful. The story of the struggle, which really began before 1832, and was a prominent feature in the presidential election of that year, is given elsewhere. (See BANK CONTROVERSIES, III.; DEPOSITS, REMOVAL OF.) It resulted in the downfall of the bank, and the transfer of the public funds to various banks, which had been established by state charters, and were selected by the secretary of the treasury. The influence of these "pet banks" had largely aided in making New York democratic in 1832, and was exerted to the same effect in 1836.
—In May, 1835, the democratic convention met at Baltimore. It again adopted, and thus made a permanent rule of democratic conventions, the "two-thirds rule" (see NOMINATING CONVENTIONS), which made two-thirds of the votes necessary to a nomination. The pronounced favor of the president had made Martin Van Buren his destined successor, and had given him the control of the party machinery. Indeed, the extreme southern faction took no part in the convention, relying on the nomination of Hugh L. White for president, and John Tyler for vice-president (see those names) by southern legislatures. The convention nominated Van Buren for president unanimously, and R. M. Johnson for vice-president by 178 votes to 87 for Wm. C. Rives, of Virginia. No platform was adopted. In the election of 1836 Van Buren was elected by 170 votes out of 294. This year the democratic vote was increased by that of Rhode Island and Connecticut, but lost that of New Jersey. Georgia and Tennessee voted for White, and Virginia, by voting for Tyler, threw the election of the vice-president into the senate, where Johnson was chosen. (See DISPUTED ELECTIONS, III.)
—So long as Jackson's strict construction had stopped with his war upon the bank, selfish interest and a desire to handle the public funds made the state banks, particularly those of New York, his ardent supporters; when he and his successor, Van Buren, proceeded to make the party a "hard money" party, as its strict construction principle dictated, he lost their support. The removal of the deposits, their transfer to the state or "pet" banks, and the "specie circular" (see BANK CONTROVERSIES, IV.), were the three steps which brought on the panic of 1837. But in spite of panic, suspension of specie payments, and a clamor for governmental relief from men of all parties, Van Buren maintained his party's political principles with a steadiness which makes his one term of the presidency altogether the brightest part of his varied career. He refused to countenance any federal interference with the course of business, threw all his official influence into an effort for the complete "divorce of bank and state," and, after a three years' struggle, accomplished it by the establishment of the subtreasury system, July 4, 1840. (See INDEPENDENT TREASURY.) This made the federal government the guardian of its own funds, relieved it from direct intercourse with any bank and from the need to give any bank the power to issue national paper money, and by consequence made gold and silver the only money recognized by the federal government. The democratic party, after a 12 years' novitiate, was thus at last a strict construction party in every mooted political question. Its national convention at Baltimore, May 5, 1840, was, therefore, for the first time, ready to formulate its party principles, which it did in a platform whose principal resolutions were as follows: "1. That the federal government is one of limited powers, derived solely from the constitution; and that the grants of power shown therein ought to be strictly construed by all the departments and agents of the government; and that it is inexpedient and dangerous to exercise doubtful constitutional powers. 2. That the constitution does not confer authority upon the federal government to commence or carry on a general system of internal improvement. 4. That justice and sound policy forbid the federal government to foster one branch of industry to the detriment of another, or to cherish the interest of one portion to the injury of another portion of our common country. * * 5. That it is the duty of every branch of the government to enforce and practice the most rigid economy in conducting our public affairs, and that no more revenue ought to be raised than is required to defray the necessary expenses of the government. 6. That congress has no power to charter a United States bank; that we believe such an institution one of deadly hostility to the best interests of the country, dangerous to our republican institutions and the liberties of the people, and calculated to lace the business of the country within the control of a concentrated money power, and above the laws and the will of the people, 8. That the separation of the moneys of the government from banking institutions is indispensable for the safety of the funds of the government and the rights of the people." The omitted portions refer chiefly to slavery, which is elsewhere considered. (See SLAVERY; DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY, V.) On this platform Van Buren was unanimously re-nominated, and the selection of candidates for vice-president was left to the states, with the hope of throwing the election for that office into the democratic senate.
—This platform was checkmated by the whigs with the "hard cider and log-cabin" campaign of 1840 (see WHIG PARTY, II), based, as the democrats indignantly alleged, on "noise, numbers and nonsense," with a studious ignoring of political principle, and an entire reliance on the military reputation of "Tippecanoe"—in fact, quite parallel to the original democratic campaigns of 1828 and 1832. A dexterous use of four years of panic gave the whigs the small percentage of increase necessary to carry most of even the states which had been reliably democratic since 1828. New Hampshire alone in New England, Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama in the south, and Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas in the west, were democratic; everything else was whig. This result of nominating a man who had been a real party leader fixed the democratic managers for the future to the policy of nominating subordinates, and made Polk, Pierce and Buchanan presidents.
—About this time the whigs began to apply the name loco-foco to the whole democratic party. The original loco-focos were a faction of the New York city democracy, which originated in a dislike to the profuse creation of state banks in New York after the downfall of the United States bank; it was opposed to Tammany, and to the grant of special privileges to corporations by charter, and was in favor of a judiciary elected by the people, as the New York constitution of 1846 soon afterward provided. (See Loco-Foco, NEW YORK.) Van Buren's course while in office, which had arrayed all the state banks against him, brought the loco-focos back to their party; and the whigs hastened to mark their belief that the whole democratic party was now hostile to all banks, business interests and property, by thus making the name loco-foco general in its application. For the next five years, 1840-45, therefore, the whig publications carefully avoided the word democrat, and used loco-foco instead.
—The congress which was elected in 1840, and met in 1841, was whig, but not by the two-thirds majority necessary to pass bills over the veto of Tyler, who had succeeded Harrison. It was therefore powerless to do anything further than to balk the president. The policy which the democratic leaders followed was to preserve an official neutrality between the whigs and the president, while individuals and unofficial assemblages of enthusiastic democrats all over the country fed Tyler with delusive hopes of a democratic nomination for the presidency in 1844. In this way the separation between the whigs and the president was made permanent (see TYLER, JOHN; WHIG PARTY, II.); the whig efforts to re-establish a national bank were frustrated (see BANK CONTROVERSIES, IV.); and upon the expiration of the compromise tariff of 1833 (see NULLIFICATION), the whig majority. after ineffectual attempts to pass a protective tariff, with a clause for the distribution of surplus revenue among the states (see INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS), was forced to pass the tariff act of Aug. 30, 1842, which was sufficiently free from the principle of protection as to apparently satisfy the democrats and to do service as a party cry in the next campaign. The first half of Tyler's administration is one of the most singular episodes in the democratic party's history; beaten, to all appearance, overwhelmingly at the polls in 1840, it yet shaped all important legislation for the next two years to its own liking.
—The party's success was not confined to its action as a minority in congress, backed by the president; it found abundant encouragement in the state and congressional elections of 1841-3. Returning prosperity had destroyed the usefulness of the panic as a political factor, and all the states which had been democratic after 1827, but which had voted for Harrison by small majorities in 1840, now reversed their vote; even the states of Maryland, Connecticut and Louisiana, usually whig, now elected democratic state governments. When congress met in 1843 the senate was still whig by a small majority, but the house was democratic by more than a two-thirds vote, and a democratic speaker was chosen with out difficulty. This result, in the branch of congress which was fresh from the people, presaged the election of a democratic president in 1844, according to the singularly close coincidence, from 1800 until 1876, between a party's success in electing the speaker of the even numbered congresses and its success in the closely following presidential election. Every sign in the political sky pointed to the early and secure possession of power by the democratic party; and it is beyond expression discreditable to the political acuteness of southern leaders, to the tempers of their constituents, or to both, that they should have seized this very time to force their party into a false and fatal position upon the question of the extension of slavery. If they desired to preserve slavery in the south against the growing abolitionist feeling in the north, every axiom of the economy of politics called upon them to insist upon strict construction to the full, to intrench slavery within state limits, and to trust the natural conservatism of the American people for the maintenance of constitutional boundaries. They chose, instead, to extend slavery by loose construction and then to defend the acquisition by strict construction; an error parallel with that which led to Gettysburg and the downfall of the confederacy—the unwise assumption of the offensive by the naturally defensive party. (See SLAVERY.)
—Since 1830 Calhoun and his little faction of Adullamites had generally been in opposition, uniting with the whigs at one time to oppose and censure Jackson, and again to oppose Van Buren. Their democracy was entirely subsidiary to the maintenance of the sectional rank of the south and to the defense of slavery. In attaining these objects they preferred, if possible, to follow the path of strict construction, but were always willing to take loose construction where strict construction was unavailable. Before his nomination to the vice-presidency by the whigs, Tyler had always belonged to the Calhoun faction (see TYLER, JOHN), and as he became further separated from the whig party he began to draw upon the Calhoun faction for members of his cabinet. In March, 1844, Calhoun himself became secretary of state. (See ADMINISTRATIONS.) The great object of the Calhoun faction, an object to which the northern wing of the democratic party was profoundly indifferent, and in support of which the legitimate southern wing had hitherto been by no means united, was the annexation of Texas (for its history see ANNEXATIONS. III.); and in 1844, after a skillfully managed struggle of 16 months, the Calhoun faction, using the Tyler administration as a stepping stone, got control of the national democratic organization and through it committed the party to Texas annexation. The methods of this success are by no means clear, for we have only meagre data of the composition of the convention, or of the authority and instructions of its delegates. It is certain that a majority of the delegates were pledged to vote for Van Buren, and consequently against annexation. Benton and the Van Buren leaders alleged that the Calhoun clique, by months of intrigue, induced a sufficient number of Van Buren delegates to join the annexationists in voting a continuance of the two-thirds rule, for the surreptitious purpose of defeating Van Buren and fanning "the firebrand cast into the party by the mongrel administration at Washington"; the annexationists, on the other hand, asserted that the apparent Van Buren majority was of no real value; that the Van Buren delegates, particularly from the north, were not chosen by the people, but by small state conventions of self-appointed political managers; and that the whole New York delegation, for example, represented but 9,000 democratic voters. Both sides were probably correct: there is nothing at all improbable or unfamiliar in either version. The important result in this connection, however, was convention action which ultimately placed in jeopardy the basic principles of the party, and whose effects the country, as well as the party, has never, for a moment since, ceased to feel.
—The national convention met at Baltimore, May 27, 1844, and the first step in its three days' session was to adopt the two-thirds rule by a vote of 148 to 118, the minority being Van Buren's real friends. On the first ballot, by force of instructions, Van Buren had 146 out of 262 votes, a majority, but not two-thirds. Thence he fell and Lewis Cass rose until, on the eighth ballot, Van Buren had 104 votes, Cass 114, and James K. Polk, whose name then first appeared, 44. On the ninth ballot Polk received 233 out of 264 votes and was nominated. Van Buren's close political friend, Silas Wright (see ALBANY REGENCY), was nominated for the vice-presidency, in spite of Tyler's living example. He declined, and George M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania, was substituted. The strict construction platform of 1840 was re adopted, with two additional resolutions against the distribution of the proceeds of land sales among the states (see INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS), and against any attacks on the veto power (see VETO); and a final resolution asserted the title of the United States to the whole of Oregon, and closed as follows: "That the re-occupation of Oregon, and the re-annexation of Texas at the earliest practicable period, are great American measures which this convention recommends to the cordial support of the democracy of the Union." However cleverly disguised, it is apparent that the annexation of Texas, for which the constitution afforded no warrant whatever, could only be masquerading in a strict construction platform.
—In the presidential election of 1844 the democratic candidates were elected, and the congress which met in 1845 was democratic in both branches. Polk and Dallas, however, had only a small plurality of the popular vote, and a majority of the electoral votes was only obtained by the action of the abolitionists, or liberty party (see ABOLITION, II.), in withholding from Clay so many votes as to give Polk the vote of New York and Michigan and his election. The vote of Pennsylvania also was obtained by a sacrifice of party principle; for party benefit in that state, Polk avowed himself a free-trader with a leaning toward protection, and Pennsylvania was carried by the cry "Polk, Dallas, and the [semi-protective] tariff of 1842." The new departure of the party had apparently been very little to its real advantage from the first.
—Texas was immediately made a state (see ANNEXATIONS, III.), and, this accomplished, the party leaders reverted to strict construction, of which Polk's messages, barring always the Texas question, are models. The first report of the new secretary of the treasury, Dec. 3, 1845, recommended a tariff for revenue only, and this recommendation was adopted to the full by the tariff act of July 30, 1846, which, with the exception of a further reduction of duties in 1857, remained in force until 1861. The sub-treasury was re-established Aug. 6, 1846. (See INDEPENDENT TREASURY.) The passage of internal improvement bills gave the president an opportunity for veto messages, Aug. 3, 1846, and Dec. 15, 1847, which form a complete digest of his party's theory and precedents on this question. The remainder of Polk's administration was occupied in the settlement of the Oregon question, the prosecution of the war with Mexico (see UNITED STATES), and the opening skirmishes over the disposition of the territory acquired from that country by the treaty of peace. (See ANNEXATIONS, IV.) In these, Texas was again, and more emphatically, a fire brand for the party. The northern democrats generally supported the Wilmot proviso, which excluded slavery from the new territory (see WILMOT PROVISO); the southern democrats were at first content with voting against the proviso, but its persistent renewal soon began to increase the number of southern converts to the doctrine which Calhoun had for some time advanced, and which the whole southern democracy adopted in 1857, that the constitution protected slavery in all the territories, and that congress could not interfere with slavery there. (See SLAVERY.) This sectional division in the party gave little promise of success in 1848, and the large whig majority in the house in December 1847, added to the doubtfulness of the prospect—The democratic national convention met in Baltimore May 22, 1848. Lewis Cass was nominated for the presidency on the fourth ballot by 179 votes to 38 for Levi Woodbury, of New Hampshire, and 33 for James Buchanan. For the vice-presidency William O. Butler was nominated on the third ballot. The convention renewed the platform of 1840, adding to it 14 long resolutions which gave it no additional strength; they are a mere political pamphlet, and do not need to be here given. Yancey, of Alabama, offered an additional resolution that congress had no more power to interfere with slavery in the territories than in the states, but this was voted down, 216 to 36. Two delegations were present from New York, the barnburners and the hunkers, the former being Van Buren's friends, hitherto the "regular" and controlling managers of the state democracy, and the latter the new faction supported by the Polk administration. The convention admitted both, dividing the vote of the state between them, whereupon both withdrew.
—The presidential election of 1848 resulted in the defeat of the democratic candidates. This defeat was entirely due to political management; it must not be attributed to the free soil vote alone, or to the slavery question, which was just on the verge of becoming, but had not yet quite become, the leading question of American politics. The party leaders had simply reckoned ill in leaving out of their calculations Van Buren, who was fighting for political existence in his state. The conscientious free soilers, out of New York, who would not in any event have voted for either Cass or Taylor, injured the whig party most, for their vote gave Cass and Butler pluralities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin; the political free soilers (see BARNBURNERS, FREE SOIL PARTY) in New York, who had originally nominated Van Buren for president, and John A. Dix for governor, polled 120,510 votes in the state, against 114,318 for Cass, and 218, 603 for Taylor, and thus inflicted upon the democratic party the fatal loss of New York. A union of the two factions, as in 1852, would have given the 36 votes of the state and the election to Cass by an exact reversal of the electoral votes for himself and his opponents. The legitimate strength of parties was better shown at the same election in the choice of the house which met in 1849, where the democrats had a slight plurality, the free soilers holding the balance of power. The senate was democratic by nearly a two-thirds vote.
—V.: 1850-60. The compromise of 1850, as afterward interpreted by the Kansas-Nebraska bill, marks the point where the democratic party plainly began to swerve from its historic line of development. (See COMPROMISES, V.; KANSAS - NEBRASKA BILL.) That compromise, it is true, was only the fore-ordained sequence to the annexation of Texas; the territories, Utah, New Mexico and California, had been obtained by loose construction, and now strict construction, the denial at first of the advisability of congressional interference, and then of the power of congress to exclude slavery from them, was to be applied to defend the acquisition. But the cardinal canon of the democratic party (see also WHIG PARTY) had always been to ignore in politics, as far as possible, the existence of slavery. The most influential portion of the agricultural northern democracy was, indeed, in 1844, distinctly, but not aggressively, anti-slavery, determined to restrain slavery within its state limits, but equally determined not to pursue it inside of those limits. In September, 1843, the party's national organ. "The Democratic Review," did not fear to speak as follows: "Of black slavery we have little to say here and now. God forbid that that little should be in its justification. We deplore the existence of so extraordinary an anomaly in a country of absolute freedom in most respects, while we wait with patience the workings of an over ruling Providence in behalf of our black brethren." And even so late as 1848 the Ohio democratic state convention declared that it "looked upon the institution of slavery in any part of the Union as an evil, and unfavorable to the full development of the spirit and practical benefits of free institutions;" and that it felt it to be a duty "to use all the power clearly given by the national compact to prevent its increase, to mitigate and finally to eradicate the evil." Until the culmination of the Texas annexation policy it would be safe to say that the national democratic party was composed of a northern agricultural element which was generally unfriendly to slavery, a northern urban and commercial element which was generally indifferent on the subject, and a southern agricultural element which was distinctly pro-slavery; and that the three elements had united into a national party because of their accord on every subject excepting slavery, which they did not regard as a necessary or proper question for political discussion or action. But the success of the southern wing in 1844 broke this tacit compact, by bringing into the political arena a vast extent of new territory whose status as to slavery could not be settled without a political struggle. The consequent discussion of slavery, while it alienated the democratic anti-slavery element, compelled the party more and more to abandon its traditional policy, to appear as the half-avowed supporter of slavery extension, and thus ultimately to force the formation of a party of slavery restriction—which meant war, unless one section of the union should change its temper or its labor system.
—Before this last result could be reached, the new policy was to have a most destructive effect upon the rationate of the party. Hitherto the great strength of the democratic party had been its agricultural element; its most widely trusted leaders, from Jefferson, Macon and Gerry down to Jackson and Silas Wright, had been engaged in agriculture; and its general supremacy in agricultural states had only occasionally been disputed through the desire for protection for special interests, such as flax and wool. But in the new prominence which the party's mistake in 1844 had led it to give to slavery over its real principles only one agricultural section, the south, had any friendly interest; and the history of these 10 years is only a list of defections of northern agricultural states from the party, beginning with Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa in 1856, and ending with the stampede of the entire west in 1860. This last loss has never since been fully recovered.
—The consequences of the compromise of 1850 were not at first apparent, and the general belief that the spirit of slavery discussion had been exorcised from politics carried the party triumphantly through the year 1852. The Taylor-Fillmore administration ended with an almost two-thirds democratic majority in both branches of congress. June 1, 1852, the national convention met at Baltimore, and on the forty-ninth ballot nominated Franklin Pierce for president. The vote on the first ballot was: Cass, 116; Buchanan, 93; Douglas, 20; Marcy, 27, and 27 scattering. Buchanan rose to 104 votes on the twenty-second ballot, Douglas to 92 on the thirtieth; Cass to 131 on the thirty-fifth; Marcy to 97 on the forty-fifth; and Pierce, whose name was introduced on the thirty-fifth ballot, rose from 55 to 282 votes on the last two ballots. For vice-president Wm. R. King was nominated unanimously on the second ballot. The platform added a long number of resolutions to that of 1840, the only important additions being one against abridging the privilege of naturalization (see AMERICAN PARTY), another indorsing the compromise of 1850, and another which attempted to hush the slavery question again as follows: "That the democratic party will resist all attempts at renewing, in congress or out of it, the agitation of the slavery question, under whatever shape or color the attempt may be made." In the presidential election of 1852 the democratic candidates were successful by a small popular, and an overwhelming electoral, majority. Only Massachusetts and Vermont in the north, and Kentucky and Tennessee in the south, voted against pierce and King, and none of these by more than 3,000 majority. In the south the other states, which had been hitherto usually or always whig, Mary-land, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana, were now permanently democratic; even Delaware, for the first time in her history, with the dubious exception of 1820, chose democratic electors. The promptness with which a majority of the southern voters recognized and accepted the democratic doctrine of strict construction as the only present means by which to defend slavery in the Mexican acquisition, brought pro-slavery southern whigs by thousands into the democratic party, and made it progressively more pro-slavery in that section; while in the north the prevailing belief that the compromise of 1850 was intended only to ignore the slavery question in the new territories, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, to stop slavery discussion, and to restore the party's old economic principles to their paramount place in politics, retained and even increased the democratic vote. The seeds of the disruption of 1860 were thus planted in the opposite views with which the two sections of the party won the overwhelming victory of 1852.
—The mistaken policy of 1844 still held the party in its grip, and its inevitable but unforeseen consequences began to unfold more rapidly. If a strict construction of the constitution required that the status of slavery in the new territories should be decided by the people of those territories, and not by congress (see POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY), surely this principle was equally applicable to all the territories, and the action of congress in 1820 in forever excluding slavery from the territories north of the Missouri compromise line (see COMPROMISES, IV.) was unconstitutional and void. The immediate consequence was, that the territories north of the Missouri compromise line, which were organized in 1854, were organized with the proviso that all questions pertaining to slavery therein were to be left to the decision of the people residing in them. (See KANSAS-NEBRASKA BILL.) But this was no quieting of the slavery question, no return to economic principles; it was only the evident precursor of a still greater prominence to the slavery question in the future. The consequent dissatisfaction began to show most plainly in the congressional elections of 1854 in the northern agricultural states, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 1850 these states had chosen 55 democratic representatives to 33 opposition; in 1852, 61 democrats to 28 opposition; in 1854, 17 democrats to 72 opposition. Not one of these states had cast an anti-democratic electoral vote since 1840, with the exceptions of Ohio in 1844, Pennsylvania in 1848, and New Jersey in 1844 and 1848. In New York the party had also been completely wrecked, but its misfortune there was inextricably complicated with internal democratic dissensions. The southern representatives were unanimous on the great question, 52 being democrats and 37 pro-slavery whigs or know nothings. The party was evidently making up its northern defections by southern whig accessions; and their influence upon the party is further marked by a revival of the question of internal improvements. (See CONSTRUCTION, III.) A bill for that object was passed in 1855, but vetoed by the president.
—June 2, 1856, the national convention met at Cincinnati. On the first ballot Buchanan had 135 votes, Pierce 122, Douglas 33, and Cass 5 Cass' vote did not change materially, but Pierce's vote fell and those of Buchanan and Douglas rose, until, on the sixteenth ballot, Buchanan had 168 votes, Douglas 121, and Cass 6. On the next ballot Buchanan was unanimously nominated for the presidency Breckinridge was unanimously nominated for the vice-presidency on the second ballot. The platform was a renewal of that of 1852, which included the original platform of 1840, with additional resolutions approving the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and the principle of popular sovereignty, and condemning the know nothing movement. (See AMERICAN PARTY.) In the presidential election the democratic candidates were successful, but the vote was of evil omen for the party. The cloud in the west had grown larger and more threatening. In that section only Illinois and Indiana were now democratic, the former by a plurality of 9,000 and the latter by a meagre majority of 2,000; and these states, with California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the entire south, made up the democratic electoral vote. Nor were the congressional elections much more cheering. In both branches congress was democratic; but the majority in the house was only attained by the almost complete unification of the 96 southern votes, and by an increase from 6 to 15 in the democratic representation from Pennsylvania. In the other states specified under the immediately preceding elections there was no sign of a return to the party; indeed, five of them now sent unanimous anti-democratic representations.
—If the slavery question could now have been intermitted, and if the party could have reverted to its foundation principles, its agricultural losses might possibly have been regained; but it had now entered the rapids, and the falls were not far below. At the opening of Buchanan's administration, in March, 1857, the struggle between free state and slave state settlers for the possession of Kansas had gone far enough to show that the northern democratic idea of popular sovereignty in the territories was of no use to the south in view of the superior northern power in immigration, and the whole body of southern democrats soon swerved off to the extremely loose construction ground, formerly held by Calhoun. that slaves were recognized as property in the constitution, and that congress was bound to protect property in slaves in the territories, even against the wish of a majority of their people. This construction, though indorsed by the decision of the supreme court in the Dred Scott case, was evidently one which would be extremely distasteful to the northern democrats, and which, if made a party tenet, would still further reduce the northern democratic vote. The northern section of the party had acquiesced in Texas annexation in 1844, in the fugitive slave law and the abandonment of the Wilmot proviso in 1850, and in the application of popular sovereignty to all the territories in 1854; but it was not to be expected that in 1857 it should confess its own dogma of popular sovereignty in the territories to be worthless, and preach the direct opposite. Accordingly we find Douglas and a part of the already small northern democratic representation in congress in opposition to the administration on this single question. Their scission took the form of opposition to the admission of Kansas under the pro-slavery Lecompton constitution in 1858 (see KANSAS), and they were therefore known as "Anti-Lecompton democrats"; but the real line of demarcation lay further down and was to widen into a complete division in 1860. In the senate Douglas was almost the only anti-Lecompton democrat, and in this body Jefferson Davis, Feb. 2, 1860, introduced a series of seven resolutions, which were debated until May 24, and then passed. Of these the most important was the fourth, which declared that neither congress nor a territorial legislature had power, directly or indirectly, to impair the right to hold slaves in the territories. The vote on this resolution was 35 to 21; 28 of the majority from the south, and 7 northern democrats; 20 of the minority republicans, and 1 northern democrat. The introduction of these resolutions seems to have been intended as the ultimatum of the southern wing to the democratic party's national convention.
—The national convention met April 23, 1860, at Charleston, S. C., and on the next day elected Caleb Cushing president and appointed a platform committee of one from each state. It was also agreed that no ballot should be taken for candidates until the platform should be agreed upon. April 27, three platforms were reported by portions of the committee, one, which may be called the southern platform, by 17 members; another, the Douglas platform, by 13 members (representing all the free states but California, Oregon and Massachusetts); and another, the Butler platform, by one member, B. F. Butler, of Massachusetts. As finally modified in debate, the southern platform contained seven, and the Douglas platform six, resolutions. The 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Douglas resolutions were the 6th, 7th, 4th and 5th of the southern resolutions, and included promise of protection to citizens at home and abroad (see BROWN, JOHN), approval of a Pacific railroad and the acquisition of Cuba, and condemnation of any attempt to defeat the execution of the fugitive slave law. (See PERSONAL LIBERTY LAWS.) The first three southern resolutions were, in brief: 1, That slavery in a territory could not be prohibited by congress or by a territorial legislature; 2, that the federal government was bound to protect slave owners in their property in slaves in the territories; and 3, that the right of the people to decide the question of slavery could only accrue when the territory became a state: while the first two Douglas resolutions declared, 1, that the democratic doctrines of past years were "unchangeable," but 2, "that the democratic party will abide by the decisions of the supreme court of the United States on the questions of constitutional law." The issue between the northern and southern democracy could hardly be more comprehensible or more cleanly cut. The southern delegates were no longer democratic; they were pro-slavery. The northern delegates, while not yielding their popular sovereignty principle in terms, would yield to the Dred Scott decision. But this was not acceptable to southern delegates; they wished to bind the party to the Dred Scott principle for all time to come, no matter how the composition of the supreme court might be affected by any future successes of the republican party.
—The Butler proposition, to simply re-affirm the platform of 1856, was voted down, April 30, by 198 to 105. The Douglas platform was then adopted by a vote of 165 to 138. The majority was a free state vote with a few scattering votes from the border states. The minority was the slave state vote, with California, Oregon, a majority of Pennsylvania, and a minority of Massachusetts and New Jersey. The vote was followed, on this and the following day, by the formal withdrawal of the delegates from Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, and two delegates from Delaware; all these delegates united in a separate convention. The original convention then adopted the two-thirds rule, and proceeded to ballot. On the first ballot the vote stood: Douglas, 145½; R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, 42; James Guthrie, of Kentucky, 35; Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, 12; and 18 scattering. The question now lay mainly, therefore, between a northern or a border state candidate. On the 57th ballot, Douglas had 151½ votes, Guthrie, 65½, Hunter, 16, and 19 were scattering. The convention then adjourned, May 3 to meet again at Baltimore, June 18, recommending the various states to fill vacancies in the meantime. When the convention again met, June 18, its first business was to decide upon the claims of new delegates to admission. From some of the states whose delegates had withdrawn at Charleston contesting delegations were present, and the Douglas majority, by generally admitting Douglas delegations, particularly from Louisiana and Alabama, induced a further disruption of the convention, this time on the part of the border state delegates. The Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, California and Delaware delegations, with part of the Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri and Massachusetts delegations, withdrew from the convention, and its president, Cushing, resigned. There were thus left in the convention but 17 border state votes, and 15 southern votes (Alabama and Louisiana). A new president was at once elected and balloting was renewed. On the 58th ballot (57 ballots having been taken at Charleston), Douglas had 173½ votes, Guthrie 10. Breckinridge 5, and 3 scattering; on the 59th ballot, Douglas had 181½, Breckinridge 7½, and Guthrie 5½. On neither ballot did Douglas have two-thirds of the original or full vote of the convention (303 votes), but the convention now resolved that, having two-thirds of its present strength, he was nominated. Benjamin Fitzpatrick, of Alabama, was nominated for the vice-presidency by 198½ votes to 1; and, as he declined the nomination, the national committee nominated Herschel V. Johnson. The convention finally adjourned June 22.
—The seceders at Charleston had at once organized a separate convention, adopted the southern platform, and adjourned to meet in Richmond, June 11. In Richmond they continued to meet and adjourn without doing business until the 29th. In the meantime the seceders at Baltimore organized a separate convention, June 28, with Caleb Cushing, as president, and admitted the delegates whom the Douglas convention had excluded, including some of the delegates at Richmond. By unanimous votes on the first ballot in each instance, they adopted the southern platform, and nominated John C. Breckinridge for president and Joseph Lane for vice-president. Their action in every respect was ratified by the fragment of the Charleston seceders still in session at Richmond. Both bodies then adjourned, and the Charleston convention, in all its branches, was over.
—The charge has been made, and supported by considerable concurrent testimony, that the withdrawals from the convention, at Charleston, if not at Baltimore, were part of a concerted design to split the party, insure the election of a republican president, and thus gain an excuse for secession. Such a design was very possibly active in the minds of some of the extreme southern faction, but the disruption itself was most certainly the natural outcome of the party's history for 16 years. The southern leaders had found their Mexican acquisition and their fundamental party principles too heavy a load to be carried together and had therefore discarded the latter; the northern leaders who had seen their party in the north growing weaker for eight years while assisting in slavery extension by strict construction, saw that they would be committing political suicide by following in the proposed new step of loose construction, and they therefore at last, and with an obstinacy born of personal peril, held back. The sectional division between the two factions may be seen by an analysis of the democratic popular vote in 1860. In the (afterward) seceding states, including Tennessee, the vote stood—Douglas 72,084, Breckinridge, 435,392; in the other border states, Douglas 91,441, Breckinridge 134,289; in the north, Douglas 1,211,632, Breckinridge 275,092—(213,205 of this credited to the two states of Pennsylvania and California). All the electoral votes of the slave states were cast for Breckinridge, except those of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, which were given to Bell (see CONSTITUTIONAL UNION PARTY), and those of Missouri, which were given to Douglas. With the exception of three votes in New Jersey, where a fusion ticket of electors was supported by all the anti-republican factions, and three Douglas electors were successful, no northern electoral votes were given to either of the democratic candidates. It would have been, therefore, impossible for the democratic party, even without the disruption of the Charleston convention, to have carried the election of 1860, for the adoption of the southern platform could not have made the southern vote more effective, and would certainly, even if accompanied by Douglas' nomination, have still further diminished the northern vote. (See REPUBLICAN PARTY.)
—VI.: 1860-81. The situation of the democratic party, when the extra session of congress met in 1861 (see REBELLION), was peculiarly unfortunate. Founded on a strict construction of the constitution, and yet called upon to face a war in which, as it was not foreign but civil, the constitution and laws were certain to be strained to their utmost tension (see CONSTRUCTION, III.; WAR POWER), it could only be at fault in whatever direction it turned. In the midst of an enormous revolution of thought and feeling, it alone endeavored to stem the current and to apply to 1861 the precedents of 1850. In the measures which the dominant party held patriotic and necessary, the issues of paper money, the laws for the confiscation of rebel property and slaves and for drafts, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and the arbitrary arrests of suspected persons, it saw only partisan attempts to make party capital, or direct violations of law for the purpose of increasing party votes or of gratifying the spite of party leaders. The mass of the party was therefore arrayed, throughout the rebellion, against the methods by which the war was conducted; but there was a strong underlying sentiment in the party that the war itself was unnecessary, and that the troubles of the country could be most easily settled by a convention of the states. An active minority, chiefly in the border states and a few of the western states, was avowedly anxious for the success of the south; and their busy persistence, the general withdrawal of the war democrats from the party, and the repugnance of the great mass of democrats to the more violent war measures, enabled the dominant party to give the name of "copperheads" to the whole democratic party.
—In the first congress of the war the democrats had in the senate but 10 out of 50 members, and in the house but 42 out of 178; in the next congress (1863-5) they had 9 out of 50 senators, and 75 out of 186 representatives. But in both congresses there were enough border state members (7 senators and 28 representatives in the first congress, and 5 senators and 9 representatives in the second), who generally acted with the democrats, to make them a very effective opposition. The political folly of secession may be partially estimated by considering the fact that only the voluntary absence of the 22 senators and 66 representatives of the seceding states gave the republicans a majority in either house at any time until the real close of the rebellion. In state elections the democrats were very steadily defeated; throughout the last two years of the war but two northern states, New Jersey and New York, had democratic governors. But the majorities in these elections, with such exceptions as that of Ohio in 1863, were usually not large; and it would be fair to say that the two parties maintained about their proportional vote from 1860 until 1864, the continued democratic loss of voters who fell off to the republican party, through a desire for a vigorous prosecution of the war, being balanced by democratic accessions of republicans who were estranged by the gradual adoption of anti-slavery measures and attracted by the democratic opposition to them. (See ABOLITION, III.; SLAVERY.)
—The national convention had been called to meet July 4, 1864, at Chicago, but in June its meeting was postponed to Aug. 29. The selection of a western city as the meeting place, just at this time, was undoubtedly a great mistake, for the western democrats had been intensely excited in May, 1863, by the arrest and military conviction of C. L. Vallandigham, one of their leaders in Ohio, for attacking the management of the war in his public speeches. The influences which surrounded the convention from its first gathering by no means tended to calm deliberation, and their result was seen in the platform adopted, whose wording was almost equally brilliant, bitter and fatal. For the first time in 24 years the platform of 1840, the basis of the party's legitimate existence, was dropped; and the platform of 1864 makes no mention of any economic principle on which the party proposed to manage the government, if successful. It consisted of six resolutions, all but one of which, the last, attacked the management of the war. The single exception expressed the sympathy of the party for the volunteers in the field. The others, 1, stated the party's adherence to the Union under the constitution; 2, demanded a cessation of hostilities, and denounced the administration for, 3, interfering with military force in elections, 4, suspending the writ of habeas corpus in states not in insurrection, and 5, refusing to exchange prisoners. The most important, the second, is as follows, in full: "That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that, after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretense of a military necessity of a war power higher than the constitution, the constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate convention of all the states, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the federal union of the states." The platform, therefore, made every issue on which the party had ever succeeded, or could ever hope to succeed, subordinate to an issue on which it had very faint hopes of success—a mistake which has been frequently repeated since. On the second ballot Geo. B. McClellan was nominated for president by 202½ votes to 23½ for Thos. H. Seymour, of Connecticut; and for vice-president Geo. H. Pendleton was unanimously nominated on the first ballot.
—In 1863 the Ohio democracy had anticipated the error of the national convention of 1864, had nominated Vallandigham for governor on the single issue of his arrest, and been beaten by the enormous majority of 101,099 out of 476,223 votes. The result in 1864 confirmed that of 1863; the democratic candidates received the electoral votes of only three states, New Jersey Delaware and Kentucky. The popular vote, however, had grown since 1860 parallel with that of the opposing party; in spite of the defection of war democrats, the secession of half a million of its former voters, and a platform which did not gain a single vote, the party still polled 45 per cent. of the total popular vote.
—From July, 1865, until July, 1866, the democratic party passed through the darkest part of its valley of humiliation. It was beaten by increased majorities in every northern state election excepting a majority of a few hundred votes in Kentucky against an anti-slavery state constitution; and outside of the late seceding states but one state, Delaware, had a democratic governor. In the congress which met in December, 1865, the democrats had but 10 out of 52 senators, and 40 out of 185 representatives. All the excluded votes from the insurrectionary states could not now have given them more than a respectable minority in congress.
—The open breach between president Johnson and the republican majority, about March, 1866 (see RECONSTRUCTION, REPUBLICAN PARTY), was closely similar to that between president Tyler and the whig party, 25 years before, and seemed at first to promise similar advantages to the democrats. But the questions at issue were so complicated with the passions of recent armed conflict, and the democratic party had so long been dealing with questions not fundamental to it, that it was now unable to follow the course of neutrality, coupled with a constant pursuit of its own economic objects, which its leaders had so skillfully and successfully taken in 1841-2. The party's strict construction principles certainly compelled it to oppose reconstruction by congress, but every consideration of policy should have counseled it to prevent this, if possible, from becoming the controlling question of politics. On the contrary, it fought against the passage of the preliminary and comparatively inoffensive civil rights bill and freedman's bureau bill with an acrimony which only resulted in their final passage without change, in the complete maintenance of the enormous republican majority in the congressional elections of 1866, and in the passage of the act of March 2, 1867, which fairly began the process of reconstruction by congress, with the certainty of a republican majority of over threefourths in congress, to complete it during the next two years.
—The party thus renewed the mistake of 1864, and elected to fight upon ground of its adversary's choosing. During the remainder of president's Johnson's term of office (see also IMPEACHMENTS, VI.), it struggled vainly but pertinaciously against the completion of reconstruction by congress. The national convention met July 4, 1868, at New York city, and adopted a platform in eight resolutions, followed by a long arraignment of the republican party for various violations of the organic law. Most of the eight resolutions were devoted to the question of reconstruction. One of them, however, showed some signs of a return to the original political principles of the party; it demanded "a tariff for revenue upon foreign imports," though it was coupled with an ambiguous wish for "incidental protection to domestic manufactures" in arranging internal taxes. But it departed from democratic precedents in two points: 1. Since the freedmen were now legally persons and not property, the democratic principle of universal suffrage, for which the party had for 80 years contended, apparently attached at once to them also; the convention, however, declared in the strongest terms against negro suffrage. 2. The party had regularly resisted the establishment of any other currency than gold and silver by the federal government, not only as unconstitutional, but as eventually bearing most hardly upon the masses of the people, and within five years it had strenuously opposed the adoption of the legal-tender paper currency; the convention, however, seduced by the idea of forcing upon the bondholder the same currency which the people had been compelled to accept, declared in favor of the payment of the debt in legal tender paper, except those portions of it which were in terms payable in coin.
—The political course of chief justice S. P. Chase, particularly during the impeachment of president Johnson, had gained many friends for him in the democratic party, and the convention would probably have nominated him but for the determined opposition of the delegates from his own state, Ohio, who were anxious to nominate Pendleton. On the first ballot the vote stood: Pendleton 105; Andrew Johnson, 65; Hancock, 33½; Sanford E. Church, of New York, 33; and 79½ scattering. Johnson's vote immediately and rapidly decreased. Pendleton's vote rose to 156½ on the 8th ballot, and then fell until his name was withdrawn on the 18th ballot. The votes for other candidates underwent little change, except those for Hancock and T. A. Hendricks, which rose to 135½ for Hancock and 132 for Hendricks on the 21st ballot. On the next ballot the Ohio delegation insisted on nominating Horatio Seymour, and the unanimous vote of the delegates was at once cast for him. F. P. Blair was then nominated for vice-president.
—The platform had emphatically declared the reconstruction acts of congress to be "a usurpation, unconstitutional, revolutionary and void"; and this declaration was made more prominent by a previous letter of the candidate for the vice-presidency (the "Brodhead letter" of June 30, 1868), to the effect that the president elect must "declare these acts null and void, compel the army to undo its usurpations at the south, disperse the carpet-bag state governments, and allow the white people to reorganize their own governments." Until this was done it was "idle to talk of bonds, greenbacks, gold, the public faith, and the public credit." In other words, every issue was still to be subordinate to that of reconstruction. In the presidential election the democratic candidates were defeated, but their proportion of the popular vote had risen to 47½ per cent. In the north there was no sign of a change in the electoral vote; in that section democratic electors were chosen only by New Jersey, Oregon and New York, and the votes of the last named state, it was widely believed, were carried by frauds in New York city. (See NEW YORK.) In the congress which met in December, 1869, there were 15 democrats out of 72 in the senate, and 96 out of 227 in the house.
—The congressional elections of 1870 resulted in a trifling increase in democratic strength. In the senate there were now 17 democrats out of 74, and in the house 105 out of 242. The first term of president Grant rapidly developed a strong feeling in a minority of the republican party, the so-called "liberal republicans," that the national police power had been exercised beyond legal limits in the southern states since their reconstruction. This "liberal republican" minority in 1872 held a national convention at Cincinnati, adopted a platform, and nominated Horace Greeley and B. Gratz Brown, of Missouri, as presidential candidates. The democratic national convention met at Baltimore, July 9, 1872. It adopted the Cincinnati platform by a vote of 670 to 62, and nominated the Cincinnati candidates by votes of 686 to 46 for Greeley, and 713 to 19 for Brown. The platform was in reality the most thoroughly democratic which the party had adopted since 1840, with the single exception of its refusal to decide for or against protection (see LIBERAL REPUBLICAN PARTY), and, as it formally recognized the validity of the last three constitutional amendments, but demanded in return local self-government for all the states, it probably afforded to the party the fairest possible avenue of escape from the difficulties of reconstruction. As might have been foreseen, the recent bitternesses of party conflict handicapped Greeley very heavily from the beginning; the number of democrats who refused to vote far more than counterbalanced the liberal republicans who voted for him, and the democratic candidates were defeated, receiving but 43 per cent. of the popular vote. The responsibility for the result is, however, fairly chargeable to the unwise selections of the Cincinnati convention; had it seen fit to nominate C. F. Adams and an acceptable democrat, the result might easily have been different. About 30,000 democrats voted for the nominees of a "straight-out" democratic convention, held at Louisville, Sept. 3, though the nominees, Chas. O'Conor, of New York, and John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, declined the nomination. The defeat in the presidential election of course included a falling off in the congressional representation; in the following congress the democrats had but 88 out of 290 representatives, the senate being almost unchanged.
—Though the party had been so badly defeated in 1872, its prospects for national success date only from that year. By a single effort it had cast off the burden under which it had been laboring for years, had sloughed off that great mass of its voters who were democratic only on one point—the memories of the anti-slavery and reconstruction conflicts, and now stood, for the first time since before 1850, upon the ground of its economic principles, ignoring for the present the tariff question. It would be unfair to ascribe to this "new departure" alone the growth in the democratic vote for the next two years, for this was greatly assisted by many concurrent circumstances of president Grant's second term (see UNITED STATES), and particularly by the general financial distress which began to be felt in 1873; but it is at least certain that the democratic proportion of the vote of agricultural districts began generally to increase after 1872 for the first time since 1854. In 1874 the change was so marked that the elections of the year were commonly known as a "tidal wave." In the northern state elections of 1874-5, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, California, Nevada and Oregon were carried by the democrats; even Massachusetts introduced into her state government the phenomenon of a democratic governor; and in the congress which met in 1875 the democrats had 198 out of 292 members of the house, though they still had less than one-third of the senate.
—This sudden tide of success, however, in the north, was balanced by a more general but more portentous success in the south, for which a great part of the responsibility must fall up on the abandonment by the party in 1868 of its fundamental principle of broadening suffrage. Its action left no option either to southern negroes or to southern whites and taxpayers, it forced the former into the republican party, and compelled the latter, in sheer self-defense, to take the name of democrat, no matter what their political principles might be. The consequence was that, so early as 1874-5, the whole south, with the exception of South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, were nominally democratic, and a full half of the democratic vote in the house was southern, comprising in its ranks democrats, protectionists, greenbackers and internal improvement men, all agreeing firmly on but one democratic doctrine, the right of each state to self-government. The homogeneity of the party was thus injured, its action hampered and crippled, and its policy dwarfed to the care of a single section, thus checking again the national growth which had fairly begun. Had the "Chase platform" of universal suffrage (see CHASE, S P.) been adopted in 1868 and adhered to, it would probably not have affected the negro vote in that year, or perhaps in 1872, but the party in 1874, with but a fair half of the southern vote, would have been in far better position to take the crest of the wave of opportunity and develop again into a true national party. Here, as always since 1844, the party felt the want of those leaders who, until 1844, strenuously and successfully opposed the acceptance of any issue whatever which would narrow the party action to the care of a section.
—The national convention met at St. Louis, June 28, 1876. and adopted a platform which, like all modern productions of the kind, was too long for popular use and better adapted for a campaign document; but it was at least almost entirely in harmony with the party's hereditary principles. It again accepted the last three constitutional amendments; it "denounced the present tariff, levied upon nearly 4,000 articles, as a master piece of injustice, inequality and false pretense," and "demanded that all custom house taxation shall be only for revenue"; and for the first time in many years it relegated the southern question to an entirely subordinate position. On financial questions it demanded due preparation before the resumption of specie payments; and the rest of the platform was entirely an indictment of the republican party. On the first ballot for a candidate for president the vote stood: Tilden, 404½ Hendricks, 140½; Hancock, 75; Wm. Allen, of Ohio, 54; Thos. F. Bayard, of Delaware, 33; and 37 scattering. Before the second ballot was finished, Tilden's nomination was made unanimous. His leading competitor, Hendricks, was then nominated for vice-president. The result of the election was that the democratic candidates had a majority over all in the popular vote, obtained a majority of the representatives to the succeeding congress, and claimed a majority of the electoral votes, though this was finally decided against them. (See DISPUTED ELECTIONS, IV.; ELECTORAL COMMISSION.) There can be no doubt that the whole party believed that the forms of law had been foully perverted to its injury in this decision; but its peaceful submission to the result was at least a useful proof of the strength of the American form of government—The south, including even the four states which had formerly been exceptions, was now solidly democratic, though its unification was not based upon the acquiescence of a majority of its voters in fundamental democratic principles, but was still entirely a measure of self-defense against the one overshadowing danger which the improvident action of the democratic convention in 1868 had made permanent. This solidification, and the entire disappearance of the republican vote in many southern districts, were skillfully used by republican leaders, during the next four years, for the decrease of the democratic vote in the north and west; and the result was very plainly seen in the congressional elections of 1878. In the senate the democrats had 42 out of 76 members, and in the house 149 out of 293; but 30 of the senators, and 105 of the representatives, were from a single section, the south. Had this southern majority been strict constructionist, pure and simple, as in Jefferson's time, it would have injured the party very little; but in fact, outside of the wish for local self-government for the states, there was hardly an article of the democratic creed, from a revenue tariff to opposition to internal improvements, in support of which this nominally democratic representation from the south was at all unanimous. The party's prospects would have been far better in the hands of a congressional minority wholly devoted to its principles than in those of a majority on which it could not rely. During the period of its nominal control of one or both branches of congress (house, 1875-81; senate, 1879-81), it is hardly possible to specify any point of democratic policy which it even attempted to enforce, excepting the reduction of federal expenses and the freedom of state governments.
—The national convention was held at Cincinnati, June 23, 1880, and adopted a platform which, though somewhat paragraphic and disjointed, was in the main in consonance with the party's principles, though its financial paragraph can hardly be considered entirely Jeffersonian. It declared for "home rule; honest money, consisting of gold and silver and paper convertible into coin; and a tariff for revenue only." The remainder of the platform was devoted to denunciation of the "fraud of 1876." On the first ballot for presidential candidates the vote stood: Hancock, 171; Bayard, 153½; H. B. Payne, of Ohio, 81; A. G. Thurman, of Ohio, 68½ S. J. Field, of California, 65; W. R. Morrison, of Illinois, 62; Hendricks, 50½; and 185 scattering. On the second ballot Hancock was nominated by all the votes of the convention, except those of Indiana for Hendricks, and 3 scattering. W. H. English was then unanimously nominated for vice-president. In the presidential election of 1880 the democratic candidates were defeated. The defeat would seem to have been due mainly to the party's congressional majority, not so much because of its sectional character, after all, as because of its long influence in preventing the development of a national party policy. Even when, late in the canvass, the republican party elected to fight upon democratic ground, the tariff question, the party, which had had no education on the question from its own representatives, weakly endeavored to avoid it, and lost votes by its weakness. On the popular vote the democratic candidates were slightly in a minority, of the electoral votes they received all those of the southern states, and in the north those of New Jersey, Nevada, and five of California's six votes. Of the congress to meet in December, 1881, the democrats elected 136 out of 293 representatives, thus losing the majority in the house for the first time since 1875; both parties had the same number in the senate. But it is noteworthy that, for the first time in many years, nine of the southern representatives were republicans, an augury, perhaps, of the party's release from the worst impediment to its national development.
—In its history to the present time the party has had but three leaders of the first rank, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson. (See those names) Jackson's name must be included, despite his phenomenal ignorance of very many of the commonest subjects of human knowledge; his skill in reorganizing a party out of chaos, his unerring certainty and success in going to the very marrow of unexpected political difficulties and in marking out the party policy, his ability to lead his party in the path of its own principles in spite of ambitious subordinates, and the distinct stamp which he left upon the opinions of the school of politicians who succeeded him in the control of the party until 1844, all show him to have been a leader more effective, in some respects, than either of the others. The number of leaders of a lower grade has of course, been very great, and the reader must be referred, as to them, to Gillet's "Democracy in the United States," cited below. The theoretical basis of the party has always been the principles formulated by Jefferson, though these were not put by him into any connected form, except in two instances (see KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS; BANK CONTROVERSIES, II.), but must be sought for in detached letters throughout his collected works, or in his messages. His first inaugural address, in 1801, is his nearest approach to the formation of a systematic political creed. The political writings of William Leggett, editor of the "Evening Post," of New York city (1834-6), which are cited below, are a collection fully as valuable to any one who desires to study the democratic side of American politics before 1844. (See also LOCO-FOCO.) Since that year it has been the party's misfortune that it has almost always been engaged in combating some one or more of its own fundamental principles, so that it is difficult to give any general reference during this period which would not be more or less misleading. Perhaps the "Democratic Review," up to its cessation in 1859, and Spencer's "Life of T. F. Bayard," would give a fairly consistent view of the party's application of its theory to the practical questions of American politics. The Jeffersonian doctrine, in its modern form, is also given incidentally in governor Horatio Seymour's lecture on "the History and Topography of New York," at Cornell university, June 30, 1870.
—The future of the party must be largely a matter of speculation. Its destruction or disappearance is in the highest degree improbable; if there were no democratic party in existence, the first consistent policy proposed by an administration would force the evolution of one. But it seems probable that its future basis will, to some extent. be changed in the following direction.
—The Jeffersonian basis of the party, however useful in its time, is open to one great objection: it ignores the progress of the country. It attempts to lay down the rigid rule that the exercise of certain derived powers by the federal government, no matter how imperatively it may be needed, no matter how much steam, electricity and war may have changed the basis of existence of the country, is still and always a violation of the organic law. No party, not the democratic party itself, not Jefferson himself, has ever lived up to the rule in practice; nor has any one who refused to live up to it felt himself to be really a violator of law. But the continued charge that a broad construction of the constitution is unlawful, coupled with the constant exercise of broad construction by all parties in emergencies, has done much to sap the reverence of the people for the constitution itself, and to give an air of unreality to the professions of democratic leaders; it has enabled the opponents of the party to meet every profession of democratic faith with apt precedents drawn from democratic theory or practice; and it has again and again forced the party into a demoralizing acceptance of that which it had but very recently been denouncing as a violation of law.
—The change which is necessary seems to be the basing of the party upon expediency rather than upon claims of absolute law in the matter of powers which are fairly doubtful. Of course there are powers which are either flatly prohibited to the federal government, such as the power to tax exports, or are plainly ungranted, such as the power to impeach a private citizen; as to these there can be no difference of opinion in regard to the legality of their exercise by the federal government. But in regard to the great mass of doubtful powers the claim that it is inexpedient to exercise them is a far more fitting basis for a great political party than the claim that it is illegal to exercise them. The former not only gives an elasticity to party action which is wanting in the latter, but implies a consciousness of strength in argument; the latter is too often only a substitute for argument and a confession of inability to argue the question at issue. There are many symptoms of this change to a basis of expediency among thinking democrats, the last and most noteworthy being the address of Clarkson N. Potter before the American bar association in August, 1881.
—The objection to such a change would be, that it would open the way to an indefinite latitude of construction by a dominant majority in congress; the answer to the objection is, that the dreaded result has always been the practical rule of American politics, even in face of the loudest assertion of the illegality of broad construction, and that a stand upon the inexpediency of broad construction would relieve the strict construction party from the lengthening chain of the past and give it easier access to the several elements of the opposing party in the future. The particularist element in the United States will always be strong enough to act as a controlling force upon broad construction. and the more highly the political sentiment of the country is educated the less necessary becomes the ultra-Jeffersonian idea of the absolute illegality, under all circumstances, of broad construction.—[The list of authorities given below is, with a few necessary exceptions, of works written from a democratic stand-point; those of opposite views will be found under the articles referred to among the authorities For the relative strength of party representation in the successive congresses, and for the popular vote in the presidential elections, see UNITED STATES. For the electoral votes see ELECTORAL VOTES. For the party history in each state see the articles on individual states.] (See UNITED STATES, CONSTRUCTION, ADMINISTRATIONS.)—(A), In General: See Capen's History of Democracy; Gillet's Democracy in the United States; Van Buren's Origin of Political Parties in the United States; Cutts' Treatise on Party Questions; Harris' Political Conflict in America; G. Lunt's Origin of the Late War; Tucker's United States (to 1840); Wise's Seven Decades; Cluskey's Political Text Book of 1860; Tribune Almanac (1838-81); North American Review (Jan. 1876), Art., "Politics in America"; Draper's Civil War; Greeley's American Conflict; 1-3 Von Holst's United States; Young's American Statesman; Johnston's History of American Politics; Statesman's Manual; Benton's Debates of Congress (1789-1850); Congressional Globe (1850-61); Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia (1861-80). (B), In Particular Periods: (I., II.: 1789-1801). see 1 Schouler's United States; 2 Pitkin's United States; 2 Holmes' United States; 4, 5 Hildreth's United States; 1 Draper's Civil War (introd. chap.); 3, 4 Jefferson's Works (ed. 1829); 1, 2 Rives' Life of Madison; 2 Randall's Life of Jefferson; 1 Tucker's Life of Jefferson; Austin's Life of Gerry; Parton's Life of Burr; 1 Parton's Life of Jackson; Adams' Life of Gallatin; Hunt's Life of Livingston, 46-105; and authorities under ANTI-FEDERAL PARTY; FEDERAL PARTY, I.; BANK CONTROVERSIES, II.; WHISKY INSURRECTION; JAY'S TREATY; X. Y. Z. MISSION; ALIEN AND SEDITION LAWS; DISPUTED ELECTIONS, I. (III.: 1801-25), see 5, 6 Hildreth's United States; Bradford's Federal Government; 1 Hammond's Political History of New York; 3 Randall's Life of Jefferson; 2 Tucker's Life of Jefferson; 4 Jefferson's Works, (ed. 1829); T. Cooper's Consolidation; Parton's Life of Burr; 2 Davis' Life of Burr; Garland's Life of Randolph; Pinkney's Life of Pinkney; Adams' Life of Gallatin; Carey's Olive Branch and New Olive Branch; Jenkins' Life of Calhoun; Dallas' Writings of Dallas; Ingersoll's Second War with Great Britain; 4-6 Adams' Memoir of John Quincy Adams (Diary); and authorities under ANNEXATIONS, I., II.; BURR, AARON; EMBARGO; GUNBOAT SYSTEM; FEDERAL PARTY, II.; CLINTON, DE WITT; BANK CONTROVERSIES, II., III.; CONVENTION, HARTFORD; WHIG PARTY, I.; CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS; COMPROMISES, IV. (IV.: 1825-50), see Benton's Thirty Years' View; 2 Hammond's Political History of New York; 1 Draper's Civil War; 2, 3 Von Holst's United States; The Democratic Review, (1838-50); Bradford's Federal Government (to 1839); Amos Kendall's Autobiography; Sumner's History of American Currency; 3 Parton's Life of Jackson; Hunt's Life of Livingston; Hammond's Life of Silas Wright; Holland's Life of Van Buren; Scott's Life of H. L. White; Mackenzie's Life and Times of Van Buren, and Lives of Butler and Hoyt (both useless except for the letters contained in them); Jenkins' Life of Calhoun; Parton's Famous Americans; Appleton's American Cyclopœdia, Art. "Calhoun"; Chase's Administration of Polk; Hamilton's Memoir of Rantoul; and authorities under WHIG PARTY, I., II.; ALBANY REGENCY; ANTI-MASONRY; NOMINATING CONVENTIONS; CHEROKEE CASE; INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS; FOOT'S RESOLUTION; NULLIFICATION; BANK CONTROVERSIES, III., IV.; DEPOSITS, REMOVAL OF; VETO; CENSURES; LOCO-FOCO; CONSERVATIVE; SLAVERY; ABOLITION, II.; PETITION; ANNEXATIONS, III., IV.; OREGON; WILMOT PROVISO; BARNBURNERS; FREE SOIL PARTY; COMPROMISES, V.; POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY. (V.: 1850-60), see 3 Spencer's United States; Democratic Review (cont. as United States Magazine, to 1859); 3-6 Stryker's American Register; 1 A. H. Stephens' War Between the States; Schuckers' Life of S. P. Chase, 128-195; Dickinson's Life of D. S. Dickinson; Botts' Great Rebellion; Pollard's Lost Cause (cap. 1); Buchanan's Buchanan's Administration; Atlantic Monthly, 1861, and North American Review, 1866 (articles on Douglas); Chittenden's Peace Convention; and authorities under POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY; FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW; KANSAS NEBRASKA BILL; SLAVERY; AMERICAN PARTY, I.; WHIG PARTY, II., III.; REPUBLICAN PARTY; DRED SCOTT CASE; TERRITORIES; KANSAS; BROWN, JOHN; SECESSION; COMPROMISES, VI. (VI.: 1860-81), see Bartlett's Bibliography of the Rebellion; 3 Draper's Civil War; Guernsey's Rebellion; 2 A. H. Stephens' War Between the States; McClellan's Republicanism in America (to 1869); McPherson's History of the Rebellion, and History of the Reconstruction (comprising his Political Manuals); S. S. Cox's Eight Years in Congress; Delmar and Stern's Social Science Review; Ingersoll's Fears for Democracy; Barnes' History of the 39th and 40th Congresses; Spencer's Life of T. F Bayard; Moore's Speeches of Andrew Johnson; Taylor's Destruction and Reconstruction; Schuckers' Life of S. P. Chase, 514-560; The Nation, 1865-81; and authorities under REBELLION; ABOLITION, III.; SLAVERY; RECONSTRUCTION, SUFFRAGE; IMPEACHMENTS, III.; REPUBLICAN PARTY; GREENBACK-LABOR PARTY.