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Origins of American Political Parties

Origins of American Political Parties: 1789--1803

John F. Hoadley
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Origins of American Political Parties
    Book Description:

    The first appearance of parties on the American political scene has been a subject of debate in both history and political science; most scholars have argued that parties did not develop until the nineteenth century. John F. Hoadley challenges that conclusion, arguing convincingly that substantial parties emerged within the first decade after creation of the new government. Examining patterns of roll-call voting in the early congresses, he finds that discernible coalitions existed between 1789 and 1803. These coalitions began to assume the form of parties as early as the Second Congress, and the evidence for their functioning as parties becomes overwhelming by the time of the Jay Treaty debate in 1796.

    The distinctive contribution of this study lies in its quantitative analysis of congressional voting. From this analysis emerges a picture, derived from multidimensional scaling, of the rise of voting coalitions. Thus one can clearly see evidence of party formation in Congress as well as the impact of issues and external alliances on these voting coalitions.

    Origins of American Political Partiesmakes a valuable contribution to political science and to history. Political scientists will find that insights into the emergence of the first parties in the United States shed light on the shifts in party alignments in later years and will help them to understand the forces that shaped a nation's first use of this key political institution. Historians will find here new evidence on the development of a fundamental element in America's early political history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6353-6
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    In this book I explore the fundamental question of when and why political parties first appeared in the United States. The development of parties is examined for the period between 1789, the first year of the new government under the Constitution, and 1803, the year directly following the first transition of government from one party to another. This period, traditionally considered to be the time of the first party system, is of particular interest, because a process of party development was triggered by the actions of individuals who themselves did not believe parties could be a positive force in a...

  7. 1. The Concept of Party
    (pp. 8-19)

    The concept of party is central to the goals of the present research. In order to trace the development of American political parties, it is first necessary to reach a satisfactory definition of a political party. Otherwise, the question of when parties first appeared becomes lost in a plethora of differing definitions. In this regard, it is important to distinguish carefully between the concepts of party and faction.

    In this chapter, there are several principal goals. First, I establish the meaning of party and faction at the time of the Constitution. This is important for an understanding of party development...

  8. 2. The Historical Tradition
    (pp. 20-31)

    The Anglo-American philosophical tradition provided little support for the notion of party. Yet the idea of party was not totally without historical precedent. It is possible to look for examples of partisan behavior in several different settings. Outside of Great Britain, the states of eighteenth-century Europe were all governed as absolute monarchies. The parliament of France, for example, never even met from 1614 until the Revolution in 1789 (Loewenstein, 1967, p. 54). With only minor exceptions, there are no possible examples of the emergence of a party system before 1789 in continental Europe.¹ The ancient republics of Athens, Rome, and...

  9. 3. The Development of Electoral Institutions
    (pp. 32-46)

    Historical developments do not take place in a vacuum; rather, a specific historical and political context surrounds events. The historical and philosophical environment for the new nation was discussed in earlier chapters, where we saw the absence of either historical precedent or philosophical support for the idea of party. There is, however, more to the picture; the party emergence, which provides the focus for this book, also belongs in a specific political context.

    The eighteenth-century political world bore little resemblance to the twentieth-century surroundings to which we are so accustomed. Many of the institutional settings and structures we now take...

  10. 4. Party Institutions in Congress
    (pp. 47-59)

    The empirical research presented in this book consists chiefly of an analysis of voting patterns within the Congress. On this basis, we should be able to draw certain conclusions about levels of party voting at various times. Yet, as discussed in chapter 1, the existence of party depends on more than the presence of cohesive voting blocs. It also depends on the appearance of institutions of party leadership and formal party structures. Thus, in this chapter we examine available evidence on the organizational aspects of parties in Congress. Such organizations, if they are present, either can be the product of...

  11. 5. Spatial Analysis of Party Development
    (pp. 60-85)

    In previous chapters, I have considered the political context in which the new Congress operated in 1789. It was a political world that, in many respects, was not very hospitable to the development of political parties. Yet, within a few years, highly partisan competition had appeared in national elections and in the halls of Congress. It is this latter arena that provides the principal setting for the search for party emergence. Beginning in this chapter, I look closely at the voting records of congressmen to determine when voting coalitions appeared in a form that might be labeled parties.

    The chief...

  12. 6. Factionalism in the Early Years, 1789-1793
    (pp. 86-117)

    Having demonstrated that a dramatic surge in party voting did take place from 1789 to 1803, I can now examine in depth the patterns of voting within each individual Congress, so as to highlight the process of party development. Throughout this consideration, I give close attention to several different themes: (1) the declining influence of sectionalism relative to partisanship; (2) the individual careers of congressmen whose partisan ties emerged over several years; and (3) the changing issue basis of the voting patterns.

    While sectionalism had been the dominant influence on congressional voting in the First Congress, its importance waned over...

  13. 7. Polarization and Party Politics, 1793-1797
    (pp. 118-140)

    The polarization of congressmen into two cohesive voting blocs primarily occurred during Washington’s second administration, from 1793 to 1797. Whether these blocs can be designated as parties is ambiguous, for, as discussed in chapter 1, the concept of party involves more than cohesive voting in Congress. Polarization in Congress is, however, quite clear and is illustrated by the configurations for the Third Congress (figures 27 and 28) and the Fourth Congress (figures 29 and 30). In the Second Congress, the members grouped themselves into a set of clusters, reflecting the state of transition from factional to partisan politics. By the...

  14. 8. Partisan Competition in Congress, 1797-1803
    (pp. 141-170)

    Major changes occurred in the United States from 1789 to 1797. Certainly one of the most significant developments was the polarization of members of Congress into two reasonably cohesive voting blocs. Thus, John Adams, the new president taking office in 1797, faced a very different political situation than George Washington had to deal with in his administration. In this chapter, a closer look is taken at the role of parties between 1797 and 1803, encompassing the Adams years and the beginning of the Jeffersonian era.

    Elections held in 1796 and 1797 to select a new president and Congress took place...

  15. 9. Political Parties in Eighteenth-Century America
    (pp. 171-191)

    The loose patterns of association known as factionalism were present in nearly every colonial and national assembly predating the Constitution, and these patterns continued into the early years of Congress. For the First House, evidence of such patterns existed in the regional voting blocs. At least minimal patterns of association characteristic of factionalism can be detected for every Congress, with the exception of the unstructured voting of the First Senate. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a legislative body without factions, particularly in a new nation with considerable geographic, economic, and cultural diversity.

    While it seems certain that factions would...

  16. APPENDIX A. Party Affiliation of Members of Congress
    (pp. 192-219)
  17. APPENDIX B. Representing Individual Roll Calls in Spatial Configurations
    (pp. 220-234)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 235-243)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 244-252)
  20. Index
    (pp. 253-257)