Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Democratic Party

Democratic Party, The, in U.S. history, was originally called Republican. It took the name Democratic Republican in sympathy with French revolutionary ideas, and the secession of a body of "National Republicans" in 1829-30 (who soon disappeared) caused the remainder to be called Democrats. It has always supported popular sovereignty and therefore State rights, as against centralisation; and as the Federalist policy was originally protectionist, it has on the whole favoured free trade. It was much aided by the popularity of Jefferson (q.v.), by the war of 1812-13 with England, and by the application of the "spoils system" by President Jackson in 1829 to the distribution of office. By 1852 it had become the pro-slavery party in consequence of its doctrine of State rights. This led to a threefold split [Douglas, Bell, Breckinridge], the consequent election of Lincoln (q.v.), and the War of Secession. Throughout this war the Extreme Democrats of the North and West were more or less hostile to the Government (whence their nickname "Copperheads," a species of venomous snake), and after it to the system of reconstruction adopted. Their power did not revive till 1874, but probably fraud alone prevented their success at the Presidential election in 1878. At the 1882 election they carried Cleveland (q.v.). On the whole they now tend to support free trade, or at least a "tariff for revenue only," and are perhaps less inclined to economic heresy than the present Republicans (who as a party only date from 1856). In some cities, notably New York, the Democrats have been disgraced by alliance with the worst elements of corruption. [Tammany Hall.]