Gary Odom: A Brief Look at the History of Third Parties in America

Gary-Odom-Publicity-Shot

Gary Odom

The following article was shared on the Constitution Party’s Facebook page today:

by Gary Odom, political activist and former National Field Director for the Constitution Party

Most Americans have been led to believe that that the United States has a two-party political system. In fact, of course, the Constitution of the United States says nothing about political parties and many of the founding fathers abhorred the very idea of political parties taking root in America.

The fact that political parties have developed over the history the United States of America is largely due to human nature–a tendency to congregate with others who have mutual ideas and interests. From almost the beginning there were two competing parties–the Federalists of Washington, Hamilton and Adams and the Democratic-Republicans of Jefferson, Madison and others. This was the beginning of the so-called “two party system.”

Despite this, new parties are not a unique experience in American politics. It wasn’t long before there was a change in the original line-up. In 1816, the Federalists were to run their last Presidential candidate and for much of the remainder of the first part of the 19th Century the Whig Party provided the primary competition for the party that came to be known as the Democrat Party. Well known Whigs included Daniel Webster, William Henry Harrison and Henry Clay.

In the 19th Century new parties continued to develop. In 1832, the Anti-Masonic Party won 8% of the vote. In 1848 the Free Soil Party, led by former President Martin Van Buren, won 10% of the vote. In 1856, the year the Republican Party was born–as a new or “3rd Party–another 3rd Party, the American Party (or Know Nothings as they came to be better known) won 22% of the popular vote with former President Millard Fillmore heading the ticket. Of course, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln of the new Republican Party was elected President. The Republican Party had been born as a “third party” in 1856, as aforementioned, largely in response to the issue of slavery.

Read the rest of the article here. 

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