How Did Political Parties Get Their Start in American History?

Political parties have been a staple of American politics for centuries, but how did they come to be? Let’s take a look at the origins of political parties in American history.

The Early Years

In the early years of the United States, there were no political parties. Instead, politicians aligned themselves with certain factions and interest groups. However, this began to change in the late 1700s with the emergence of two major political figures: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

The Federalists

Alexander Hamilton was a strong advocate for a strong central government and believed in a loose interpretation of the Constitution. He founded the Federalist Party, which became one of America’s first political parties.

Federalists believed in a strong central government that could regulate commerce and finance, among other things. They were also pro-British and favored industry over agriculture.

The Democratic-Republicans

On the other side of the political spectrum was Thomas Jefferson. He believed in states’ rights and strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Jefferson founded what would become known as the Democratic-Republican Party. The party advocated for limited government and was pro-French. They also favored agriculture over industry.

Expansion and Change

Throughout the 1800s, political parties continued to evolve and change. The Federalist Party dissolved in 1824, leaving only one major party: The Democratic-Republicans which eventually became known as just Democrats.

The Whigs

However, another party emerged in 1834: The Whig Party. This party was formed to stand against President Andrew Jackson’s policies such as his vetoing of bills that would have rechartered the Second Bank of the United States.

The Republicans

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 as an anti-slavery party during a time when tensions between the North and South were high. The party was made up of former Whigs, Democrats, and Free-Soilers who believed in ending slavery.

The Modern Era

Today, the two major political parties in the United States are still the Democrats and Republicans. However, there are also several third-party options such as the Green Party and Libertarian Party.

The Democrats

The Democratic Party is generally considered to be more liberal than the Republican Party. They advocate for policies such as universal healthcare and a higher minimum wage.

The Republicans

The Republican Party is generally considered to be more conservative than the Democratic Party. They advocate for policies such as lower taxes and a strong military.


Political parties have been a part of American politics since its inception. From Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson to today’s Democrats and Republicans, these parties have shaped the course of American history. While there have been changes over time, political parties remain an integral part of American democracy.