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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The rivalry between the Whig and Democratic Parties, often called the “Second American Party System,” first emerged in Andrew Jackson’s administration (1829–1837). Democrats organized to secure Jackson’s 1828 election, then united behind his program of Indian removal, no federal funding of internal improvements, opposition to the Bank of the United States, defense of slavery, and the “spoils system” that used patronage for party building. Whigs supported Henry Clay’s pro-development American System, sympathized with evangelical reform, and reluctantly accepted Democratic techniques for popular mobilization and party organization. The mature parties competed closely in most states and briefly eased sectional conflict, before splitting in the 1850s over slavery in the territories. Whigs made no presidential nomination in 1856, and the Second Party System disintegrated. As it did, Northern Whigs and antislavery Democrats merged in the Republican Party, southern Whiggery steeply declined, and Democrats survived as the only national party.

Keywords: Second American Party System, Democratic Party, Whig Party, Andrew Jackson, Indian removal, internal improvements, Bank of the United States, Henry Clay, American system, spoils system

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