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1 Historical background of the two major parties There was no provision for political in the American Constitution President Washington was opposed to the factionalism that parties represented Political parties however are a key element in the American political system They began to foremen before Washington left office The Federalists won the first contested election 1796 They were soon defeated by the Democratic-Republicans the forerunner of the Democratic Party--the oldest political party in the world The initial political contest was between Hamilton s Federalists representing the northern elite and Jeffersons Democratic-Republicans representing agrarian and backwoods interests The Federalists soon lost out in their attempt to restrict the suffrage In the first half of the 19th century political contests were between the Whigs and the Democrats who won most of the elections At the time farming and Western interests wanted nothing more than being left along by Government Beginning with Jefferson in 1800 this is just what the Democrats provided The Republican Party was founded in 1856 out of the collapsing Whig Party and the growing northern sentiment for the abolition of slavery The election of the Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln in 1860 meant Civil War Since the Civil war the Democrats and Republicans have remained the major American political parties although there has been a startling reversal in the principles of the two parties 2 Why are Democrats represented by a donkey and Republicans by a elephant Thomas Nast a great cartoonist for the popular Harpers Weekly magazine first used the donkey and elephant as symbols in 1874 He first drew a parody illustrating the New York Herald a Democratic newspaper as a donkey and the Republicans vote as an elephant hiding in the forest Other cartoonists mimicked the idea and the animals became the symbols of the two parties The late political scientist Clinton Rosier praised the choice as highlighting the different between the two parties The difference he wrote is caught vividly in
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