The United States since the earliest days of the Republic has had a two-party system. Only during the Washington presidency were political parties largely supressed, because of Washington's abhorance of them. They did, however, develop during his presidency and the election of 1796 was contested by the Federalists and anti-Federalists. Since then American politics have resolved around the competitio of two political parties. The competing parties and issues have changed iver time, but most American elections have been dominated by two parties. Such a two-party system is relatively unusual around the world as most democratic countries are goverened through a multi-party system. The only third party to succeed in becoming a major force has been the Republican Party, primarily because the Whig Party imploded. Other political parties have failed to become permanent fixtures in Americam politics. They have however popularized a variety of issues which the major political parties subsequently adopted as their own. They have also affected the outcome of several presidential elections. The two early political parties were the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists (Democratic-Republicans). The question arrises as to how these two parties line up with our modern parties. The dshort answer is that they do not, at least very well, but the issues have become kind of mixed up. This is in part because farming and commerce-business interests were once opposed (Federalist/Democratic-Repunblican rift). Today farmers and business both generally support the Republicans.
President Washington did not approve of political parties. The Federalists and Democrtic-Republicans both coalesed during Washington's presidency. While Washington refused to commit to partisan politics, he adopted largely the Federalist policies and political outlook. Their origins lay even earlier in the debates over the new Federal Constitution. The two parties emerged in both Congres a well as Washington's cabinet. After Washington, the Federalists won the first contested election (1796). John Adams won the election, but perhaps no one following Washington could have met the public's expectations. Adam's own personal reputation and his party's standing was tarnished by the Alien and Sedetion Act. The Federalists soon lost out in their attempt to restrict the sufferage. The Federalists unsuccessfully contested presidential elections until 1816, but remained an important force in several states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware) through the mid-1820s. Many Federalists gradually drifted into the new Whig party although John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, George Cabot, Rufus King, Timothy Pickering, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Many Federalists like Hamilton and Pinckney had been strong proponents of the new Federal Constitution (1787). Yet the Federalists who promoted the Constitution were not all the ame men who forned the Federalist Party. Many Democratic-Republicans like Madison hd argued for the Constitution. One of the key issues for the Federalists was the concern over building a srong national govrnment and less concern for state interests. The Federalists had an aristocratic approach to government and elections. The Federalists distrusted democracy and attempted to limit the suferage. The party found support among the commercial intrests of the Northeast which had been damaged by the weakeness of the Articles of Confederation. The party's support was highly regional. While there as some support in the South, the Fedealists were unable to obtain the support of either plantation slave oners or yeoman farmers in the South or on the Western frontier. The presidential election of 1800 was close. It was the last strong showing by the Federalists. Jefferson proved to be a popular president. He delivered on his campaign promises to limit government, reduce taxes, protect free speech, and open Western land sales. The results were electiin disasters for the Federalists in 1802 and 1804. After 1804, the Federalists were no longer able to compete successfully in elections with the Democratic Republicans on a national basis. Even so, lifetime appointments to the Federal judicuary made the Federalists an important force well after the Democratic Republicans had swept the White House and Congress. Chief Juctice John Marshall played major role in establishing the authority of the new Federal Government. The soul of the Federalist Party was Hamilton who because he was not born in the territory of the United States could not run for the presidency. He was a brilliant political theorist. While he lost the political debate over the future of the nation, in fact America became a major world force based on the commercial and industrial interested that he championed rather than on Jeffersonian agrarianism. There are connections between the Federalists and the modern Republicans, primarily through the Whigs. The Federalists believed in a strong central government. As do the Reopublicans at least on national defense issues. Hamilton wanted the Federal Government to promote commerce. Modern Republicans do not object to this, but as the Democrats become a socialist Party, the Federal Government has more commonly througgh taxes, social enfgineering, and regulation impeded business.
The opposition to the Federalists were first called the anti-Federalists, but soon the name Democratic Republicans was adopted. The Anti-Federalists first organized to prevent the ratification of the Constitution. They failed in this effort and could not challenge Washington for president. The first cometitive electin was the the 1896 election which pitted Adams and Jefferson. Adams won, but lost the repeat contest in 1800 to Jefferson. The Federalists befinning in 1800 were largely descredited by Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, the forerunner of the Democratic Party--the oldest political party in the world. The initial political contest was between Alexander Hamilton's Federalists representing the northern elite and Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans representing 18h century liberal intelectuals, agrarian and backwoods frontiersmen joining against the Federalists. These interests wanted primarily not to be encumbered from Government regulation and taxation. The modern Democratic Part had its roots in Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans. But the modern Democratic Party differs in many important ways, namely states rights. And this gap widens as the Emocrats become increasingly a socialist party.
Andrew Jackson won a majority of the popular vote in 1834, but lost the election to John Quincy Adams in what Jackson and his allies called the "Corupt Bargain". Jackson loyalist Martin Van Buren
began building the first mass political machine in American politics--earning him the title of "the Little Magician". Van Buren worked to obtain the support for influential politicans in every state. Jackson was already enormously popular in the West. Van Buren worked to build his popularity in the East. A major effort was made to estanlish pro-Jackson newspapers in every state. Andrew Jackson's victory ushered in the Age of Jackson--the only president to have an an entire era of American history named after him. Jackson followed the Jeffersonian agrarian ideal and his fight against the National Bank was to defend debtors over creditors. In the same veion William Jennings Bryan at the turn of the 20th century wages his campaign against the gold standard, rather advocating silver and easier credit. The journey to urban liberalism was to take over 100 years. well into the 20th century, the emocrats combined their upport from immigrant voter in big cities with the South and West to win elections. This only changed with Franklin Rossevelt's New Deal. With the New Deal, the Democrats became the party most willing to use the Federal Government to regulate the economy and to address the needs of underprilidged Americans. This looks like a complete reversal in the intelectual basis of the party. There is, however, a broder consistency. Jeffersonian and Jacjsonian Democrats fought against stroing central government as they saw as it was seen as an instrument of the landed and later industrial elites that were oritented toward Britain. [Witcover] With the Depression this changed and more Americans rather than needing protectiin from the Federal Government began looking for the Federal Government to protect them from huge, sometime monopolistic corporations and economic trends. Although these efforts had been begun by Republican Theodore Roosevelt, it was the Democrats first under Woodrow Wilson, but more importantly under Franklin Rossevelt that finally embraced urban liberalism in an effort to fight the Great Depression of the 1930s. Roosevelt was able to create an unvbeatable combination of the traditional Democratic South with Mid-Western farmers and urban labor. He also began the shift of Black voters to the Democratic coalition. Harry Truman's embrace of Civil Rights (1948) meant a weakening of the Democratic hold on the South hich began to show in the Eisenhower elections (1952 and 56). With the sucess of Reagan (1980 and 84) and Congressional Republicans (1994), there is now a struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party among the anti-VietnamWar New Politics and the Clinton New Democrats. [Witcover]
The Whigs are the political ancestors of the modern Republican Party, although the ideological line has in manys ways reversed. The Party was directed by men like Henry Clay, Daniel Websrer, and John C. Calhoun. They promoted a platform of nation building and internal improvements at a time when America was just beginning to overconme distance and settle an emense frontier. Abolitionists received a more favoravle treatment in the Whig Party. Its adherents included both Westerners hungary for development and the new urban populaion. The Whigs never, however, managed to develop a meaningful following in the South. They managed to control the Congress at times, but only gained the presidency by running military heros of limited connection with the Party and both died early in office. The Party like the Democratic Party emerged during the Jacksonian Era. The image of the Party was perhaps tained from the beginning because of the emense popularity of President Jackson. A young Abraham Lincoln grew up in the Whig Party and led the formation of the Republican Party. The Whigs were not the dominant party in the first half of the 19th century. The issues the fought for, however, were the issues of America's future. The Party finally was destroyed over the issue od slavery, giving birth to Republican Party and Civil War.
The Liberty Party emerged as an one-issue abolitionist political organization centered in upstate New York (1839). Organized abolitionism developed along several different issue lines. One of the most important focused on the constitutionality of the institution of slavery. Here William Lloyd Garrison who became the major figure in the American Anti-Slavery Society, attacked the Constitution as a "covenant with death and an agreement with hell." The Liberty Party opposed this approach to opposing slavery asaolitical dead end. The Liberty Party nominated James G. Birney in 1840. Birney was a Kentucky-born lawyer and former slaveholder who converted to the abolitionist cause. Mob violence forced him to relocated to Ohio. Birney garnered only about 7,000 votes in 1840 and was not a factor in the race. The Party for the 1844 election again nominated Birney. A rising force in the Party, Salmon P. Chase, had doubts based primarily on Birney's ability to generate popular appeal. The debate over Texas appears to generated substantial support for the Liberty Party. He had no channce of election, but hoped to affect some state races. Birney in fact won more than 60,000 votes which had a major impact on the election. It was also an indication that the abolitionists were making headway. Chase as a result was convinced that abolitionists should begin to organize an anti-slavery party with more broadbased appeal. The end result would be the Republican Party. The Liberty Party continued to be a force in some local elections during 1846. It nominated John P. Hale in 1848, but then decided to withdraw his nomination and united with anti-slavery Whigs and Democrats to form the Free-Soil Party.
Throught the 19th century, slavery grew in importance as an issue in American national elections. The Free-Soil Party evolved out of the rivalry between factions in the Whig and Democratic parties. Because of the importance of the Southern slave states, neither national party wanted to come out strongly against slavery. The most important northern state was New York. Two of the most important factions in New York were the Barnburners (opposed to slavery) and the Hunkers (neutral or supportive of slavery). Former President Martin Van Buren was denied the Democratic Party (1844). Instead Southern slave interests helped manage the nomination of pro-slavery James K. Polk. The Whigs nominated Henry Clay who senseing popular opinion changed his position on Texas annexation. Even so he alienated the South. James G. Birney headed the third party Liberty ticket and managed to take enough votes from Clay, particularly in New York State-to enable Polk, who swept the South, to carry the 1844 election. Polk procecuted the Mexixan War and won huge territories in the southwest. President Van Buren, increasingly vocal about slavery, along with other anti-slavery Democrats decided to form a new party. The Free Soil Party was formed after the Mexican War (1846-48) to oppose the extension of slavery into the new territories annexed from Mexico. The Whig Party had opposed the Mexican War. Anti-slavery Whig, Democratic, along with abolitionist Liberty Party members met in Buffalo, New York to found the Free Soil Party (August 1848). Many anti-slavery northern Democrats (like the Barnburners, were attracted to the Party. The Party opposed the extension of slavery into the western territories. Slavery had been closed to most of Louisana Territory as a result of the Missouri Compromise, but the southwestern territories acquired from Mexico reopened the issue. The slogan of the party became "free soil, free speech, free labour, and free men". While slavery was the central issue, the Party also promote internal improvements, moderate tariffs, and a homestead act. Former President Martin Van Buren headed the Party ticket (1848). He received 10 per cent of the vote, taking enough Denocratic votes to ensure the election of Whig candidate General Zachary Taylor. The Party had by 1852 elected 12 congressmen. Their presidential candidate, New Hampshire abolitionist John P. Hale, however, won only 5 percent of the popular vote (1852). This could be because many Free Soilers concluded that the slavery issue had been settled by the Compromise of 1850. It soon became obvious,however, that the Compromise had not settled the issue. After the formation of the Republican Party (1854), most Free Soilers joined the Republicans.
America is known as a country of immigrants. There have also been periods of intense feeling against immigrants. One of these periods was the mid-19th century. Following the Irish Poyato Famine and the failed liberal Revolutions of 1848s, especially in Germany, wave of immigrants reached America and they were not only foreign, but many were Catholic as well. As a result, a strong “Anti-foreigner” movement developed. A political party calling themselves the “Know Nothing Party” came into prominence which terrorized the minorities and incited riots. The Party was most active during 1852-56. Many of these new immigrants had been co-opted by the Democratic political machines that were dominant in many of the big cities where the immigrants settled. Beginning in the early 1850s, a variety of secret, anti-immigrant organizations actually formed a political party. The official name of the part was the American party. It became commonly known, however, as the Know Nothing Party. Apparently some members when asked about the Party would respond "I know nothing", as a result of the secret and the exclusive, native-Protestant organization. The Party wanted to exclude Catholics and foreigners from public office and to extend naturalization period from 5 to 21 years. The sucess of the Know Nothings was in part the result of the rifts in the established Whig and Democratic Parties over slavery. The Party had some successes in local and state elections during 1854-55, but it was also splitting over slavery issue. Former Whig President Millard Fillmore refused to become a Republican. He ran on the Know Nothing ticket and won 21 percent of the popular vote. It was, however, the last notable showing as the country moved toward Civil War. Northern members joined former Whigs, expanding the newly formed Republican party.
The Republican Party was founded in 1854 out of the collapsing Whig Party and the growing northern sentiment for the abolition of slavery, especially the Free Soilers. The Party was founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin to prevent the spread of slavery. The Republicans did not advocate abolition. They understood that was not constitutionally or politically possible at the time. What they wanted was to stop the spread of slavery which had been made possible by the Compromise of 1850. This had reversed the Missouri Compromise. The Southern slave owners were determined to spread slavery to the new western territoiries obtained in the Mexican War. This was in part necessary because of the cotton economy. Intensive cotton farming quickly depleted the soil. Thus cotton culture had gradually been moving west as the soil in the eastern southern states becane depleted. In the 1850s when the nation became increasingly divided over slavery, a new Republican party formed, primarily to keep slavery quarantined off in the South, while Southern sentiment was for their right to move, with their way of life, into any new territory. Their methods of agriculture and their best cash crops tended to deplete the soil, so that Southerners were among the most aggressive Western expansionists. Opposition to the expansion of slavery grew in the North. Southerners realised that opposition to he spread of slavery would eventually turn into support for abolition. Abraham Lincoln at the time enunciated the general feeling that the new Party's goal was to place it on the "course of ultimate extinction". The first Republican presidential candidate was a war hero, John C. Freemont, who won a campaign slogan of "Free Men, Free Labor, Free Territory, Fremont". Although Fremont lost to Buchanan, the Republicans starteled the nation in 1860 when they won the presidency. The election of the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, in 1860 meant Civil War. The Republicans beginning in 1860 achieved through 2000 a considerable degree of successin presidential elections, winning 22 of 37 elections. Since the Civil war, the Dmocrats nd Republicans have remained the major American political parties, although there has been a startling reversal in the principles of the two parties. The most important Republican presidents are generally considered to be Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Reagan. The list instructive. Lincoln had helped found the party and was a committed Republican. T. Roosevelt represented the progressive wing of the Party and ultimately rejected by the Party. Dwight Eisenhower won the Republican nomination, but had little commitment to the Party. Ronald Reagan was a Party loyalist. The modern Republican Party looks to Reagan more than any other President and Party loyalists improbably often speak highly of Truman rather than former Republicans. This is in part because the modern Republican Party is so different from its roots. The Party was founded as radical reformist party, but is today America's conservative party. The party was founded as a nationalist party intent on using Federal power. The modern Republicans are committed to states rights and limiting the Federal role. The Republicans strongly supported high protective tariffs, but today are devoted to free trade. The early Republican opposition to slavery contrasts to the fact that today very few Blacks vote Republican. [Gould] The geographic base of the Party has also shifted. Initinally it was New England that voted solid Republican, nowit is the South. There are some continuities in Republicn thought. The Republicans have been what has been called the party of the nation, from the Party's early years when the Southern states succeeded. Even today Republican international efforts have a marked national ephhasis. second, the Republicans have represented themselves as the "self-made", emphasizing Lincoln's log cabin roots. Today the Republicans have a horror of private property being seen as being collective proerty to be used o promote social justice. The Republicans beginning with an opposition to slavery and polygamy, which in 1856 they referred to as the twin relics of barbarianism, have promoted moral standards. Today it has become Reagan's "family values" and Mrs. Reagan's "just sayno" campaign. Lincoln referred to "Nature and Nature's God as the source of truth. Modrn Republicans tend to reject evolving concepts of moralityand insist on fixed traditional values. [Gould] The Republican Party, while it also attracted many anti-slavery Democrats, drew off so many Whigs that they effectively killed the Whig party.
The Greenback or National Greenback Party was founded in 1876 as American was emerging from the depression resulting from the Panic of 1873. Farmers focused on the currency as a cause of the Pacnic of 1873. Thus news fiscal policies were seen by some as the sollution to the economic crisis. The Greenback Party advocated an expansion of the money supply by issuing paper money. Esssentially this was a policy of inflation as the money supply at the time was primarily a function of the gold supply. 'Greenbacks' referred to the paper currency issued by the Federal Government in 1862 to help finance the Civil War. (The bills like moder American currency had green backs.) The Party maintained that a flexible supply of paper money would benefit working people. The also charged that limiting the issuance of paper money to that which could be backed by specie (gold or silver bullion) served the interests of the wealthy. This was a position that had been argued by Edward Kellogg well before the Civil War (1841). Alexander Campbell help popularize Kellogg's views on paper money during the 1860s. It was, however, not until the Panic of 1873 that Kellogg's and Cambell's ideas received substantial popular support. There was considerable opposition to the idea, especially from the financial class as creditors stood to lose vast sums if their outstanding loans were repaid in a deflated currency. Congress passed the Specie Resumption Act (1875). This put the United States on a hard currency system with paper money backed by specie. The Greeback Party was formed to repeal The Specie Resumption Act and to increase the printing of paper money (1876). The Greenback Party polled a mere 80,000 votes in its first election (1876). Labor troubles in the wake of the Panic of 1873 year increased support for the Party. Labor unrest was especially serious in 1877 and many workers began to join farmers in viewing economic problems on the manipulation of financeers and industrialists. The result was considerable success for the Greeback Party in the next Congressional election (1878). The Party this time polled nearly 1 million votes and elected 14 Greenback Congressnen. Support for the Party, however, wained after the 1878 election. The economy had recivered from the depression following the Pacnic of 1873. With the return of economic prosperity, there was less interest in economic reform. The Greenback Party had been founded largely on one issue and that issue had become increasingly moot with propperity and the realization that the Specie Resumption Act would not be repealed. The Party did poorly in the election of 1884 and that was to prove to be its last national campaign. The Greenback Party thus failed, it was, however, to have a major inpact on the Populist Party and the Democratic Party.
Anarchism is a political movement rather than a political party. Anarchism has had little appeal in the United States. There was some interest in utopian communities. An important early advocate was Josiah Warren (1798-1874). Even the utopian communities that developed, however, had rules. Two early figures in the American anarchist movement were William Greene and Benjamin Tucker. They founded journals like The Word and Liberty where they published the work of important European anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin, Michael Bakunin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Leo Tolstoy. At this time anarchism still had an essentially pacifist ethos. In response to scts of terror, European monarchies became increasingly repressive, especially in Russia. This was just as large numbers of European immigrants began reaching America. Important anarchists in Europe, including Johann Most and Emma Goldman, joined the immigrant flow to the United States. Seeing the poor working conditions here and a government largely favoring moneyed interests, they both inisisted that as in Europe, violence was acceptable to overthrow capitalism.
Perhaps the single most important reform movement in American history and one which seriously threatened the two-party system was the reform movement of the late 19th century. The reform movement was born out of the Panic of 1873. Farmers in the Mid-West and South were greatly affected by the Panic and did not benefit from the recovery as did the Eastern financial and industrial class. Farmers focused on the currency, but the Greenback Party had little success. The Popullist Party was founded on a platform of government ownership of the railroads and free coinage of silver (1891). The Populists nominated J.B. Weaver for President with a platform of major trforms (1892). He polled over 1 million votes and represented a major threat to the establish parties, especially the Democrats. Adopting some of the Populist reforms, the Democrats led by William Jennings Bryan and his Cross of Gold speech captured much of the Populist vote (1896). The demise of Popularism in its Southern stronghold was the success of the Democraic Party in raising social issues--the race issue. They convinced Southern farmers and workers that Populist reforms meant integration and eventual Black dominance. This led to a generation of demagogic governors and legislators and the vicious racism of the early 20th century. This led to control of Southern state governments by the plantation class allied with millowners and other industrial interests. Blacks wre denied the vote and working-class whites voted to maintain the system out of fear of Blacks.
Socialists were slow to organize in America than Europe. Americans were more supportive of free markets and capitalism, presumavly because it had worked so well. The Socialist Party of America (SPA) was the most important left-wing party and one of the most important third parties in American political history. It was a democratic socialist political party committed to participating in the democratic process as oposed to more radical left-wing groups like the Communists and Anarchists. The SPA was formed by the merger of the two of several small socialist groups, the Social Democratic Party of America and disaffected elements of the Socialist Labor Party (1901). The SPA attracted the support of trade unionists, progressive social reformers, populist farmers, and the substantial immigrant communities more receptive to socialist thought than many Americans at the time. One of the lumiaries of the SPA was Eugene V. Debs. He garnered more than 0.9 million votes in the 1912 and 1920 presidential elections. The SPA only managed to elect two Congressmen, but mnaged to elect many state legislators and mayors. The SPA including Debbs opposed American entry into World War I (1917). This was applauded by many Party members and the left in general, but the SPA was adversely affected by the patriotic fervor tht swept America. Some left the SPA which suffered official repression. Debbs was arrested. The SPA was deeply divided by both the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and the Communist International (1919). The SGP endorsed Robert LaFollette's presidential campaign rather than nominating its own candidate (1924). The SPA subsequently nominated its own candidate. The Party gained adherents during the Depression era of the 1930s. Debs died (1926) and Norman Thomas became the leading face of the Party. The liberal reforms of President Roosevelt's New Deal attracted the support of many voters who might otherwise have joined the SPA. This was particularly the case because the New Deal promoted reforms like Soial Security that Debs had championed. Internal infighting within the Party further weakened it. The SPA presidential candidate Darlington Hoopes won only 3,000 votes (1956). The Party subsequently ceased running presidetial candidates.
The progressive movement was not primarily a political party as such, but the progressives influenced the Democrats and Republicans, especially during the Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson administrtions and were a major influence on the Roosevelt's New Deal. The movement in America was in part an attempt to address social problems that developed in America after the Civil war as a result of industrialization. Progressives also addressed some more long term problems such as woman's sufferage and alcoholism. America had changed considerably since the Civil War. The frontier had been settled, America had emerged as the world's greatest agricultural and industrial power, there was an experiment with imperialism, great cities had developed, and huge numbers of immigrants accepted. America bustled with wealth, optimism, and industrial expansion. Many Americans had benefitted from the rise of merica as an industrial power. Many Americans had not. Large numbers of Americans subsisted on an economic edge. Children and women toiled in sweatshops and mills for pitiful sums. Working conditions were often unsafe and there was no work place protections. There was no protection for widows and orphans and no old age protecion schemes. Prisons and state hospitals for the retarded and mentally ill were commomly horror houses. State and Federal goverments were often run on the spoils system. Legislators in many states as well as senators were not selected by direct vote.
Monoplies and trusts gained great power in the American economy. A growing movement to prohibit alcoholic beverages were a part if the progressive movement. Muckraking journalists drew these problems to the attention of the often shocked American public. Many at the turn of century believed that the Governments role was to keep expenditures low and to avoid involvement in the economy. President Cleveland made no effort to alieviate economic suffering during the Depression of 1992-93. The central issue raised by the progressives was what is the proper role of the government in social and economic affairs. While not normally a political party, progressives did organize three challanges to the major parties. The first and most important was Roosevelt's Bull Moose challenge to the Republican Party (1912). There was also the La Follette Progressives (1920s) and Wallace Progressives (late 1940s).
The Bull Moose Party was not an enduring political party. Rather it was the progressive wing of the Republican Party which defected after the Republican Party leadership virtually closed the Convention to Theodore Roosevelt. The progressuive Republicans made common cause with many members of the Progressive Oarty. The Progressive movement itself was split as the Democrats ran Governor Woodrow Wilson who supported a range of Prigressive refornms. The split in the Republican Party ensured the election of Wilson. Even so, Roosevelt no only out-polled President Taft, but won more votes than anhyb other thitd party candidate in American history.
The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) is a Marxist-Leninist political party. It was founded in Chicago after the Russian Revolution after a split in the Socialist Partyb of America (1919).
Radical socialists, unionists, intellectuals, and other individuals were inspired by the Bolshevick seizure of power in the Russian Revolution. It competed wih the Socialist Party of Ameica and other smaller left-wing parties. From the beginning it was aparty controlled by Moscow and the Comintern. Partly because of support from Moscow, the CPUS became the largest and most influential communist party in the country. The Party from an early point played a vocal role in the U.S. labor movement until after World War II when concern about the Soviet Union grew as a result of the Cold war. The CPUSA was an early voice for racial equality in America.
The CPUSA attracted members from the established Socialist Party of America, trade unionists, as well as well as more radical left-wing groups like anarchists. (Apparently many did not know that Lennin in the Soviet Union had anarchists and others with similar views arrested. Many were shot.) The CPUSA was fairly successful in attracting groups in America that were being supressed by the Bolsheviks in Russia (free trade unions, disident socialists, and anarchists).
The CPUSA began to eclispse the more moderate SPA. The Party became a target of government repression, including the Palmer Raids, the Red Scare, and similar campaigns. The Party and other left-wing groups condemned these actions. Interestingly, the CPSUA never qestioned the even more severe repression of political dissent in the Soviet Union, invluding the Chekka, the Stalinist Terror, and the Gulag. Instead it slavishly followed the dictates of Moscow, The CPUSA was active in the labor movement, especially the Congress of Industrialm Organization (CIO). The Communist Party affiliated International Workers Order and its 15 sections were organized around linguistic and ethnic lines. They provided mutual aid and cultural activities to a membership that peaked at about 0.2 million members during the difficult Depression era of the 1930s. The CPUSA supported many New Deal Reforms like unemployment insurance, the right to organize, and for Social Security, but criticized the New Deal for not taking more decisive steps to destroy capitalism. The CPUSA opposed the growth of Fascism in Europe, especially NAZIism in Germany. Party members were an important part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades which fought Franco and the Nationalists in Spain. Slavish obedience to Moscow at times caused enbarassing policy reversals, such as the about face followng the NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Psact (August 1939). The Party thus joined the isolationists and opposed American defense spending with Hitler and the Stalin proceeded to divide Europe between thenm and commit horrible attrocities. Party members suddenly found themselves advocating the sane policies as the pro-NAZI German Anmerican BUnd. The CPUSA never criticized Stalin even during the Ukranian Famine, Purges, or when reports of attrocities like the killing of Polish officers at Katyn surfaced. CPUSA policy changd over night when the NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union (June 1941). Even during the War when American Lend Lease aid helped save the Soviet Union, Party members were sactive in Soviet espionage rings. As the Cold War developed, concern over Soviet espionage led to government efforts to supress the CPUSA and other leftist groups in an effort now called McCartyism. Liberals complain about this effort, but rarely mention the Soviet espionage underway or the massuive violation of human rights underway in the Soviet Union and its Eastern European empire, including the suppression of free labor unions. And the CPUSA like other Communist countries avoid discussing the economic failure of Communist countries and the povrty-level life style of workers in Communist countries.
The Liberal Party was essentially a New York state party. It was founded in 1944 as a result of a split in the American Labor Party (ALP). The Party was dedicated to support candidates with progressive, but non-Communist viewpoints. The ALP was formed in 1936 to support the reelection of President Roosevelt and and New York Governor Herbert Lehman. The Party appealed for labor support among individuals who for various reasons did not want to join or support the Democratic Party. The ALP split on the issue of whether union leaders in New York who were pro-Communist could play a role in the ALP. The two major figures in the ALP (David Dubinsky and Sidney Hillman) disagreed. The Hillman forces prevailed in the ALP state primary (March 1944). The Dubinsky forces bolted the ALP and formed the Liberal Party. President Roosevelt was concerned about the very public split. The ALP collapsed after the failure of the Wallace Third Party run (1948). The Liberal Party was a factor in New York politics for 60 years because the state permitted a "fusion ticket". This almost always meant supporting the Democratic ticket. The one exception was Democratic Jimmy Carter (1980).
Gould, Lewis L. Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans (Random House, 2003), 597p.
Witcover, Jules. Party of the People: A History of the Democrats (Random House, 2003), 826p.
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