Second Party System

Historians and political scientists use Second Party System to periodize the political party system operating in the United States from about 1828 to 1852, after the First Party System ended.[1] The system was characterized by rapidly rising levels of voter interest, beginning in 1828, as demonstrated by Election Day turnouts, rallies, partisan newspapers, and high degrees of personal loyalty to parties.[2][3]

Second Party System

 First 18241854 Third 

United States presidential election results between 1828 and 1852. Blue shaded states usually voted for the Democratic Party, while yellow shaded states usually voted for the National Republican/Whig Party.

Two major parties dominated the political landscape: the Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson, and the Whig Party, assembled by Henry Clay from the National Republicans and from other opponents of Jackson. Minor parties included the Anti-Masonic Party, an important innovator from 1827 to 1834; the abolitionist Liberty Party in 1840; and the anti-slavery expansion Free Soil Party in 1848 and 1852. The Second Party System reflected and shaped the political, social, economic and cultural currents of the Jacksonian Era, until succeeded by the Third Party System.[4]

Frank Towers specifies an important ideological divide was that "Democrats stood for the 'sovereignty of the people' as expressed in popular demonstrations, constitutional conventions, and majority rule as a general principle of governing, whereas Whigs advocated the rule of law, written and unchanging constitutions, and protections for minority interests against majority tyranny."[5]


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