The Democratic Party – A Short History

August 25, 2008

Modern Democratic Party logo

This week the Democratic Party will hold their convention in Denver. History will be made in the Mile-High city this week. The first black candidate for president will be nominated by a major party. Barack Obama will officially become the nominee of his party for President of the United States.

The Democratic Party came out of the Democratic-Republican Party which was organized by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the early 1790s. The party favored states’ rights and strict adherance to the Constitution. It also opposed a national bank and wealthy, moneyed interests. In the election of 1800 the Democratic-Republican Party ascended to power with the election of Thomas Jefferson.

In 1828 led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren the Democratic-Republican Party split and the faction supporting the old Jeffersonian principles became the Democratic Party. In 1844 the name was officially shortened to the Democratic Party.

Before and during the Civil War the party split along Northern and Southern lines, but still remained one party. Today the Democratic Party remains one of the two major political parties in the United States along with the Republican Party.

Factoids:

  • Mascot symbol commonly associated with the party is the donkey. This has never been officially adopted by the party.
  • Since election night 2000 the color blue has become the identified color of the Democratic Party. This is because all major broadcast networks used those same colors to identify the parties, blue for Democrats and red for Republicans.
  • The song “Happy Days Are Here Again” is the unofficial song of the party.

Notable Democratic Presidents:

  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Harry Truman
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Lyndon Johnson
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Bill Clinton

This week no matter what your political persuasion watching the convention is observing democracy in action.

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Election 2008: The Contenders

June 3, 2008

Someone once said, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” Well I believe it’s all over and the candidates are set for the general election in November, vice presidential running mates to be decided soon.

In the Democratic corner is Senator Barack Obama from Illinois trying to become the first African-American president.

Factoids:
Photo: Associated Press

Born August 4, 1961, Honolulu, Hawaii (age when inaugurated would be 47)
Family: Married Michelle Robinson (1992-present); Children: Natasha (2001) and Malia Ann (1999)
Religion: Christian; attends Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago
Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1983; Harvard University, J.D., 1991
1990s: Practiced civil rights law and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.
1997-2005: Illinois state senator, representing the 13th District.
July 27, 2004: Delivered keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
November 2004: Won the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois, defeating Alan Keyes.
Author: “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” (1995); “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” (2006) and “It Takes a Nation: How Strangers Became Family in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina” (2006).
2008: presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

And in the Republican corner is Senator John McCain from Arizona attempting to be the oldest president.

Factoids
Photo: Official U.S. Senate photo

Born: August 29, 1936, Panama Canal Zone (age when inaugurated would be 72)
Family: Married Cindy Hensley (May 17, 1980 – present); Carol Shepp (1965-1980, divorced); Children: Bridget, 1991 (adopted from Bangladesh, 1992); Jimmy, 1988; Jack, 1986; Meghan, 1984; Sidney, 1966; Adopted sons from Carol’s previous marriage: Andy, 1962, and Doug, 1959.
Religion: Episcopalian
Education: U.S. Naval Academy, B.S.
1967-1973: McCain held prisoner by the North Vietnamese after his plane shot down.
1977-1981: Director at the Navy Senate Liaison Office.
1981-1982: Vice president of Hensley & Company.
1983-1987: U.S. representative from Arizona’s 1st District.
1986: Won the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Barry Goldwater.
1990s: Worked with Democrats on normalizing relations and increasing trade with Vietnam.
March 9, 2000: Dropped out of the presidential race after Super Tuesday losses, and endorsed George W. Bush.
2004: Apparently Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry asked McCain to be his vice-presidential running mate, and that McCain refused.

Awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross after his release as a POW in Vietnam. McCain’s father and grandfather were both U.S. Navy admirals. They were the first father and son to achieve that rank.


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