(CNN Student News) -- There are two major national political parties in the United States: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. But have those groups been at the forefront of American politics since the birth of the nation? This One-Sheet helps students learn about the history of political parties in America.
The Federalist Party held power in the U.S. from 1789-1801. The Federalists were responsible for organizing the national government and establishing the practice of a liberal interpretation of the Constitution. John Adams was the first Federalist to be elected president, but after he failed to win re-election, the group never held power again and was virtually defunct by 1817.
The Democratic Party traces its roots back to the late 1700s. It developed in opposition to the Federalists, and its members originally called themselves Democratic-Republicans. It wasn't until 1844 that the group officially named itself the Democratic Party. Thomas Jefferson was the first member of the party to be elected president.
The Whig Party was active in the U.S. in the mid-1800s. The group was formally organized in 1834, made up primarily of members opposed to President Andrew Jackson, but they never developed a definitive party platform. In 1836, the party ran multiple candidates for president, none of whom won. The Whigs did win the presidency and control of Congress in 1840, but the party was mostly dissolved just 20 years later.
The Republican Party was established in the 1850s when leaders from several political parties, including the Democratic and Whig parties, joined forces in their opposition to slavery. The group is also referred to as the GOP, or Grand Old Party. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the first Republican president of the United States.
The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971 and is the third largest political party in the United States. The group's political platform is based on the idea that individuals should be the only authority over their lives. Accordingly, most Libertarians would like most government-provided services replaced with private and voluntary arrangements.
The Green Party was formed in 2001 as a federation of state Green parties. The group's mission is to build itself into a viable political alternative in the United States. The Green Party has a broad issues platform and focuses on grassroots activism, working primarily at a state and local level and running candidates for local offices.
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Green Party of the United States E-mail to a friend
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